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Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions

From the publisher’s website:

Preeminent scholar and translator David R. McCann presents an anthology of his own translations of works ranging across the major genres and authors of Korean writing—stories, legends, poems, historical vignettes, and other works—and a set of critical essays on major themes.

A brief history of traditional Korean literature orients the reader to the historical context of the writings, thus bringing into focus this rich literary tradition. The anthology of translations begins with the Samguk sagi, or History of the Three Kingdoms, written in 1145, and ends with “The Story of Master Hô,” written in the late 1700s. Three exploratory essays of particular subtlety and lucidity raise interpretive and comparative issues that provide a creative, sophisticated framework for approaching the selections.

About the author

David R. McCann is Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His publications include Selected Poems of Sô Chôngju and Form and Freedom in Korean Poetry.


A Brief History of Korean Literature to the Nineteenth Century

Part 1: An Anthology of Korean Literature

The Samguk sagi (1145)

Song of the Oriole

The Samguk yusa (1285)

Book 1: Tan’gun (Ancient Chosŏn)
Book 2: The Story of Lady Suro
Book 2: Ch’ŏyong and Manghae Temple
Book 2: King Mu

Koryŏ Songs

Would You Go?
Song of Green Mountains

History as Literature: The Political and Cultural Transition from Koryŏ to Chosŏn

The Sijo Exchange Between Yi Pang-wŏn and Chŏng Mong-ju
The Koryŏsa: The History of Koryŏ
Book 2: The Ten Injunctions and the Death of Wang Kŏn
Book 117: Biographies: Chŏng Mong-ju
Song of the Dragons Flying to Heaven

Early Chosŏn (1392–1598)


Sijo Songs
Song of the Five Friends by Yun Sŏn-do
Sijo by Chŏng Ch’ŏl
Sijo Ascribed to Kisaeng


Song to Spring by Chŏng Kŭg-in
Song of Longing by Chŏng Ch’ŏl
Song of a Humble Life by Pak Il-lo
Married Sorrow by Hŏ Nansŏrhŏn

Hanmun: Poems and Prose in Chinese

Hansi by Yi Kyu-bo and Others
Hansi by Hŏ Nansŏrhŏn
Hansi by Lady Chŏng and Other Women
The Story of Master Hŏ by Pak Chi-wŏn

Part 2: Negotiations in Korean Literary Culture

The Story of Ch’ŏyong: A Parable of Literary Negotiation
Song of the Dragons Flying to Heaven: Negotiating History
Performance and Korean Sijo Verse: Negotiating Difference

Entry on here.

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