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The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea 60200th Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520200555
ISBN-10: 0520200551
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Korean --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

“Undoubtedly, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, known as Hanjungnok (Records written in silence), is one of the most important and moving pieces of traditional Korean literature. . . . Haboush must be congratulated for an exemplary annotated translation that preserves the tone and color of the original texts.”
Korean Studies

“This authoritative edition. . . elucidates the intricate world of Korean court—its morass of age-old strictures, interfamilial rivalries, and just plain ill will—through which Lady Hyegyong had to navigate, both in her life and writing. . . Part of what makes these memoirs so gripping is the threat of erasure, present from the start.”
Voice Literary Supplement

“Lady Hyegyong writes of a life that none of us could have lived, yet her words and feelings are the same as those expressed and experienced by women in many time periods and many civilizations. . . . The translation by JaHyun Kim Haboush is fluid, and her wonderfully analytical introduction gives the reader useful background material, as well as insightful interpretation.”
New Asian Pacific Review
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 329 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 60200th edition (April 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520200551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520200555
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on January 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong" is actually four different works written by one woman, a circumspect, scrupulous, unfortunate 18th Century Korean aristocrat. The memoirs are, successively, a family injunction, a memorial, a biography, and a historiography. At the center of the collection sits Hong Hyegyong and her husband, Crown Prince Sado. "The Memoirs" span the reigns of Yongjo, Chongjo, and Sunjo, and the careers of Lady Hyegyong's father, Hong Ponghan, and her older brothers.
Lady Hong Hyegyong was the wife of Crown Prince Sado, who in 1762, was ordered by his father, King Yongjo, to step into a rice chest, which was susequently bound and covered in sod. Crown Prince Sado had been punished by his father for a series of heinous murders caused by Sado's mental illness. Lady Hyegyong and her family, including her son, the future King Chongjo, then became the focal point of factional quarrels at court, each side using the execution of the Crown Prince, to its own political advantage.
Lady Hyegyong, in the first three memoirs, strives to defend her father and brothers against chages of treason and complicity in Sado's execution. The last memoir is a defense of her husband. All four are addressed to her grandson, King Sunjo, to restore the honor of her family.
Although Lady Hyegyong nor Haboush could ascertain the specific cause of Crown Prince Sado's illness, and Lady Hyegyong's anecdotal evidence is hardly scientific, I would like to offer ''hwabyong'', or, in Korean, ''fire disease'' or ''anger disease''. ''Hwabyong'', as offered by Alford in "Think No Evil: Korean Values In The Age Of Globalization" (see review), is ''...a unique Korean folk syndrome...'' characterized by ''...anxiety, panic,...and the suppression of anger...'' (p. 77).
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Format: Paperback
THE KOREA TIMES 971016 CULTURE 1044WORDS
> By Yang Sung-jin
Staff Reporter
Darkness seals the closed space. In a wooden rice chest, he protests desperately, but to no avail. After nine days of unimaginable pain and despair, he dies alone.
It would be a sheer nightmare to see a person imprisoned in such an unlikely place and die from asphyxiation. To Lady Hyegyong, the widow of this man, it was much worse. For her husband is Prince Sado and the person who ordered him to die is no other than his own father, King Yongjo (1694-1776).
"The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong" (University of California Press; 327 pages) reveals the darkest chapter of Korean history. It was translated in 1996 by Kim Ja-hyun, professor of East Asian History and Culture at University of Illinois.
For the brilliant translation and the original book's literary value, Kim received the 3rd Korean Literature Translation Award, a biann ual ceremony organized by the Korean Culture & Arts Foundation in order to promote Korean literature overseas.
"Professor Kim's translation is brilliant in every sense. For its unparalleled accuracy in translation as well as the literary value of the original text, we had no difficulty choosing her work as the best one," announced jury chief Lee Young-kul at the award ceremony Tu esday.
"There were a lot of difficulties and problems, of course. Starting from choosing the most authoritative text available to making footnotes and endnotes, I had to spend much time solving the problems one by one. And yet I think I have been with Lady Hyegyong's voice all those years," said Kim in a press conference.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First off I am no scholar. Second I don't read or speak ancient Chinese or Korean. But this translation beats subtitles hands down. The Lady wrote these memoirs for her descendants. She takes you into her heart, in profound neo- Confucian style. The insight into Prince Sado's madness is totally modern. Her understanding of why the King(Sado's father) punished him in such a horrible way transcends anything Shakespeare or the ancient Greeks could come up with. Her story is easy to get into. .A child engaged to a Crown Prince is delivered, literally, to the Imperial Court to be raised properly and married. The Crown Prince turns out to be a good looking sweetie at first, but in not too many years he becomes murderous. Her line "and then the killings began" is chilling and profoundly startling.We of European Descent have our awful historic Royals and Popes, but as near as I know, no memoirs have come down from any educated upper class lady who was in the thick of chaos, trying to look out for her son and future king, preserve her family's honor, watch and unwillingly survive the executions and exiles of of family members, This is the genuine article. I hope people are not scared off by thinking it is only for academics.

One thing that has always struck me is our need as Americans to really understand and accept the neo-confucian traditions of Korea. Where are these people coming from? we wonder, especially when we ponder the North . This ancient manuscript might help us clean up our preconceptions, especially the artificial judgement that all the North has to do is overthrow its "Stalinist" president and everything will be hunky dory. These attitudes run deep and are very old.
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