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The Aphorisms of Yi Deok-mu: Musings of a Grateful Reader

Translated by: ,
Publisher: , 2018
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

This volume brings together excerpts from Seongyuldang nongso [蟬橘堂濃笑: The Inexorable Glee of Master Seongyuldang] and Imokgusimseo [耳目口心書: First-hand Observations] by the 18th-century scholar Yi Deok-mu. Seongyuldang nongso is a collection of Yi’s observations about life. In Imokgusimseo, Yi writes about what he heard, saw, said, and felt in the day-to-day.

Of the voluminous original work, this book gathers pieces likely to resonate with the modern reader. Yi’s musings showcase an imperturbable perspective, a capacious intellect and learning informed by voracious reading, and an aura of unparalleled integrity. The thoughtful discourse presented here is sure to offer considerable comfort and joy to readers of an age sadly dominated by a dog-eat-dog mentality.

Yi’s writings are in the same vein as the qingyan (淸言) genre, which was in vogue at the turn of the Ming–Qing dynasties, and as such offer a rare window into the psyche of 18th-century Korean intellectuals.

Yi Deok-mu (1741–1793) distinguished himself at a young age through his wide-ranging reading. His prose vividly depicts his straitened circumstances, which never managed to defeat his spirit.

Jung Min is a Professor of Korean Literature at Hanyang University, South Korea. He has translated numerous works by 18th-century scholars, including Park Jiwon and Jeong Yak-yong. His publications include Hansi mihak sanchaek [The Aesthetics of Sino-Korean Poetry] (1996), Michyeoya michinda [It Takes Madness to Make It] (2004), and Dasan-ui jaebalgyeon [Rediscovering Dasan Jeong Yak-yong] (2011).

Ji-yung Kim holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and has worked as a freelance translator since 2008. Her publications include Astronomical, Meteorological, and Seismological Observations from Ancient Korea (2013) and Retracing the Ancient Korean Sky and Its Myths (2016).

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