Author: Yoon-kyung SHIM
326 pages | 223*152mm
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|>>>This book is written in Korean.|
About This Book
"I am Yi Jin, a woman who records spirits."
The novel begins with Yi Jin’s narration. As she says, she "records spirits" and that is what she lives for. She believes it to be her destiny to record the spirits of not dead but living people, the ordinary people around her. Asking her why is pointless. She has been seeing spirits since so long ago in her childhood that she herself cannot remember when it was, and begun to write down their stories as naturally as she breathes.
Just as enigmatic as what Yi Jin does is the woman herself. Absolutely indifferent and mindless in anything other than recording spirits and totally incapable in the real world, she possesses a mysterious beauty and royal lineage. She looks like someone who has just emerged from a huge glacier. Then comes a man who falls in love with her.
"My name is Yi Hyun, a man who was in love with a woman recording spirits."
He is a promising elite public official, working for the Finance Ministry. In Yi Jin, he sees his childhood love, who shattered his young soul. And he falls in love with Yi Jin, as if it were his fate. What he offers to Yi Jin, totally preoccupied with recording spirits and mindless of his feelings for her, is a three-year contract marriage under the condition that he will not disturb her work. He finally succeeds in marrying her, despite curses and warnings from her father, Yi Se.
However, his goal of winning her love is unattainable. During his marriage to Yi Jin, who sees no meaning in her daily life or in his love for her, Yi Hyun has to endure much humiliation and the endless questions that emerge, but still pours devotion that will never be rewarded. But one day, he discovers Yi Jin’s record of the Finance Minister that involves himself, and the relationship between Yi Hyun and Yi Jin is brought to an unavoidable downward spiral, toward a tragic end.
The Fatal Tragedy: Love
By vividly portraying Yi Hyun’s fatal love for Yi Jin, the writer attempts to present us with a heartfelt look at a man who strides towards a tragic end, knowing his fate all too well. Yi Hyun devotes himself to a frustrating, impossible love and accepts its result as it is. He resembles Sang-nyong in Moon Altar who fearlessly pursues his love and bravely meets its tragic end.
Sim Yun-gyeong once declared in her book, Moon Altar, that she would defend the "unrecoiled passions of the past" against the recent trend of Korean literary works, many of them light and upbeat. She undeniably, and successfully, kept her words in her former work, and in her latest work, Romance of Yi Hyun, she created a more traditional love story with its solid story line, in a modern setting. One of her strengths as a writer, the ability to revive traditional virtues in a modern style, effectively reveals itself in this novel.
Yi Jin's records are independent and separate short stories, interwoven with the plot at large, the love story of Yi Hyun and Yi Jin. Among them, two works, Totoro's Home and La Campanella, were published in literary journals in 2005 and the rests, Genesis and A Man Wearing a Monocle, appear for the first time in the novel. Inserted in the main plot as Yi Jin's records of living spirits, these stories help enhance the book’s mysterious mood.
"In her new novel, Sim Yun-gyeong reveals her resolute views on mankind and literature. In a time when sincerity, passion, and the search for truth are considered things of the past, she presents us a model, a tragic hero, implicitly criticizing the lightness of the modern world. In her clear and elegant prose, she endearingly portrays an ill-fated but courageous man who never attempts to avert conflicts or hind disgrace, readily compromising himself. He is a tragic hero, determined to embrace pain even when he knows all too well it would be to no avail. The significance of this novel lies in that it focuses not on the pain and the misery, but on the tragedy, which unavoidably is accompanied by pain and misery. By doing so, she audaciously stands on the stage of this hypocritical, gruesome post-capitalism era that fundamentally hampers or makes it impossible to live life as a tragic hero." -- Jeong Hye-gyeong, literary critic
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