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Dictee Paperback – September 28, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0520231122 ISBN-10: 0520231120 Edition: 1st Calif. pbk. ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Calif. pbk. ed edition (September 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520231120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520231122
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's work of poetry Dictee has received due critical attention (most recently from poet Juliana Spahr), her artist's books and other art works are less well known. Dictee will be re-released this October, along with The Dream of the Audience, a book documenting a travelling exhibition dedicated to the Korean-American Cha (1951-1982). In addition to excellent reproductions of Cha's handbound texts and images from her performances, the book includes essays by Berkeley Art museum curator Constance Lewallen, Whitney Museum of American Art curator Lawrence Rinder and critic and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Reads like a secret dossier, stuffed with epistles and pictures, religion and dreams." -- Village Voice Literary Supplement

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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And like a woman, it takes work to truly understand its essence.
Scribbling Ibis
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes to read something not following a cliched formula.
AshleyC
Looking back through sections, it really does add up somehow, in a way beyond words (which is quite fitting).
towercity

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book baffles me but I can't help coming back to it time and again. It makes my brain turn flip-flops and, in doing so, realize faculties of thought, imagination and empathy that I never knew existed. Cha's work is amazing, original, extremely insightful and interesting, bleak, defiant. As college reading lists "discover" the works of Asian American women writers (many of whom, like Amy Tan, are immensely popular but regularly problematized by scholars in Asian American studies), Theresa Cha must not be overlooked or forgotten.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ken on May 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
The poet Charles Simic says, "Long drawn-out works conflict with the fragmentariness of our consciousness. What is recorded in a notebook is the sense of the unique and unrepeatable experience of the rare moments of clarity."
Dictee is this kind of book, a collection in nine parts of mixed writing styles including short passages in French and English, jounal entries, stories and dreams, even a handwritten letter. And more. Theresa Hak Cha's book, which has been callled both fiction and autobiography, also contains photographs, film stills, diagrams, and other black and white images. "Electic" only begins to describe the structure and style of Dictee.
Cha's writing doesn't come without risk--Dictee seems thematically and structurally difficult. But it's with this style, actually a process-of-writing style, that Cha shows us how her mind works. It's in her "fragmentariness" that elements of profound meaning rise to the surface, what Simic meant by "rare moments of clarity." Cha's imagination on the page, her explorations into language and poetic lyricism--with connections to nationalist and feminist themes--help us feel her genuine struggle with Korea as a victim of the Cold War. This message is her legacy; it's a kind of Presence in her writing. And we sense her triumph.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Linda L. Branch on December 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
The autobiographical work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, "Dictee," is both a challenging and unique experience to read. Her provocative blend of prose, poetry, narrative and historical pieces, among other genres, reveal a voice that purposely avoids a "typical" patriarchial discourse that is refreshing although disarming. Her words, contextually somewhat difficult for the (this) reader not previously aware of the complexities and truths of Korean history (both in Korea and America), are at once powerful and insightful...poetic, yet raw. Cha is able to use her gift to offer a glimpse into one woman's history and journey; one that ended much too soon on this planet for this talented artist.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee is well crafted, yet difficult. It examines life experience from the perspective of Korean women.Poetry, narrative and other text structures are employed. Language is used forcefully and in thought provoking ways to build the unique form of this book. Dictee poses questions and provides a lens from which to view the Korean immigrant experience, as well as, the history of political struggle in Korea. Reading Dictee is a wothwhile experience that will expand a reader's vision.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "slee23" on October 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book can be hard to follow at times; Cha uses mixed media to convey the very intracacies of her feelings on postcolonialism, postmodernism, language, and identity. There are French exercises, images of Joan of Arc (Dreyer's film version), an acupuncture chart, photocopied pages of letters--all interspersed throughout Cha's actual prose. This is an abstract piece, and I recommend "Writing Self, Writing Nation," the companion book with essays written by Asian American studies scholars to help guide you through it. "DICTEE" is an important work in Korean American literature, as it ascends from the normal prose and attempts to mediate the Korean American identity with text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By vishmael on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
In total ignorance, just happened upon "Dictee" at a local garage sale. Incredible blessed find! Beyond others' benedictions, only to note that the prose-poem aspects of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's writing offer IMHO a useful and liberating meditation on language and thought and the ever-shimmering hallucinogenic bond and border between them. A marvelous work.

If you're reading "Dictee" as an obligatory Asian lit assignment, you might pass through it in dismissive haste, like speeding through Mecca en route to a shopping spree in Abu Dhabi. Allow yourself time with Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Virginia on October 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
Of course the elephant in the room here is that Dictee is considered important for reasons that have too little to do with the book itself. Outside academic circles and among other folks "in the know," with PhDs in Art Theory and Post-Colonial-Feminist-Classicist-Whozeewhatsit, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find any real reader who'll tell you this book deepened their appreciation or understanding of life or the medium of words, which is what literature is supposed to do. If it's not doing that, it's spinning its wheels.

There's no question that this young author was a tremendous talent and a great intellect, and sadly her early death foreclosed on her maturing into an important literary artist with any command of form, utility of formal tradition, unifying vision, etc. Dictee doesn't evince the "difficulty" of Henry James' The Golden Bowl so much as the chaos of Ezra Pound's unreadable Cantos.

Or contrast the randomness of Dictee to the beautifully managed wildness of Keats's Ode on a Nightingale. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying she should have been Keats. We can't realistically ask that of anybody. But we do and should have our models.

As a painter friend of mine likes to say, "If you need a degree in art theory to appreciate a painting, it must not be a very good painting."
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