First, an article from the always interesting (and sometimes provocative) Brother Anthony (Son-jae). Called Culture in Translation it is a semi-interview which begins with a brief interlude about tea, but quickly moves to literature. About translation in general, Brother Anthony makes three points, the second one I hadn’t fully considered. First he notes that Korean literature is often so intensely Korean that it is difficulty to understand in translation:
A lot of Korean fiction is written for a Korean readership, and Korean writers of fiction tend to assume a kind of shared culture, psychology. So when you translate it, and it’s read in another culture, people are mystified because the things that need to be explained are not explained _ they’re assumed.
Brother Anthony’s second point is that the narrative style is flat and often solely from one character’s POV. He tosses in, for what reason I’m not certain, that narrators are often female. But it is the first part of his point that is interesting, because this is reminscent of much older Western fiction. Add to this that narrators are rarely intellectually curious, and tend to lack agency (some of which I covered previously here) and you have a substantial narrative problem.
The last point has to do with sentimentality, and you can read the entire brief article here.
a special issue of LTI Korea’s excellent LIST Magazine was just published (Alas, another rotted LTI link), focusing on the 10-year anniversary of the institution. The section “Key Themes in Literature” is particularly interesting as its components (particularly when you delve into the articles) demonstrate the centrifugal stresses under which the literature currently operates:
The titles hint at it, but reading the articles it is clear there is still substantial discussion of the relationship between national/modern literature and international/postmodern literature. That section alone makes the magazine worthwhile.
The second section concerns Children’s Literature, which I don’t know much about, or honestly care that much about. ^^
The next two sections are interviews with five adult authors: Kim Won-il (Evening Glow and The Wind and the River); Yi In-seong; Park Sangwoo; Kim Yeon-su and Kim Ae-ran. One writer and two illustrators of children’s literature are also interviewed.
Finally, there are sections from translators and what I would loosely call ‘readers/authors’ (This is titled LTI Korea and I). The translators include Choi Mikyung and Jean-Noël Juttet, who translate into French and whom I mention because I have met them and they are charming.^^ The ‘readers’ are various, including Jo Kyung-ran (Tongue) and most of the articles are short and uniformly laudatory – this not being an occasion for any kind of criticism.
It’s worth looking at online, and easy to browse.
With that, I should add my congratulations to LTI Korea for 10 successful years, and my New Year’s wish for many more!
새해 복 많이 받으세요!