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Three Generations Paperback – Deckle Edge, December 13, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago (December 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097785762X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977857623
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,421,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A classic work of Korean fiction following the tense dynamics of the Jo family in 1930s Japanese-occupied Seoul. Skillfully describing traditional Korean family structure, and vividly portraying the effects of Japanese rule, Three Generations presents a fierce battle between modern and traditional elements, as well as a chilling portrayal of the ruthlessness with which a colonial power imposed its will upon those under its control. Midwest Book Review One of the most important masterpieces of Korean fiction. —Kyoto Journal

Vividly capturing the cultural, moral, and political complexities of the Japanese colonial period through the urban microcosms of bars, stores, noodle shops, streets crowded with trolleys and rickshaws, and centuries-old mansions. —Bookforum

The novel, filled with gossip and family intrigue as scandalous as any contemporary soap opera, reads deliciously like a Dostoevsky novel or Les Liaisons Dangereuses meets Korea’s traditional middle class. —KoreAm

With its complex plot and huge cast of characters, Three Generations evokes not only Korean culture at a critical juncture in its history, but the strength and pleasures of its literature. —Moorish Girl

While valuable to its originating nation as a document of the political and social times, the real meat of this novel is the timeless conflict and confluence among strong personalities born into differing social strata. When rendered with understanding and humor, as this is, it makes for a ripping read. —Bookslut

About the Author

Yom Sang-seop was born in 1897 in Seoul. In 1919, he participated in an independence movement against the Japanese,for which he was jailed. He published his first stories, Hakjigwang and Samgwang in the same year. In 1953, he received the Seoul Culture Award. He was also awarded the Asia Freedom Literature Award in 1956, as well as the National Academy ofArts’ Contribution Award in 1957. In 1962, he received the March 1st Culture Award and the Korean President’s Medal. He died in 1963.

Yu Young-nan’s translations include Pak Wan-so’s The Naked Tree (Cornell East Asia Series, 1995), Yi In-hwa’s Everlasting Empire (EastBridge, 2001), Yi Mu-young’s Farmers (Homa & Sekey, 2002), and HanSung-won’s Father and Son, co-translated by Julie Pickering (Homa & Sekey, 2002). She was awarded the prestigious Daesan Literature Award in 2002 for Everlasting Empire, and Father and Sonwas named a Kiriyama Pacific Rim Notable Book. Kim Chie-sou is a literary critic and a professor of French and Korean literature at Ewha Womans University. He received a doctorate from Université de Provence. His works include Space of Korean Fiction and Truth of Fiction.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Originally published in 1931 as a serial in "Chosun Ilbo", and fluently translated from the original Korean, Three Generations is a classic work of Korean fiction following the tense dynamics of the Jo family in 1930s Japanese-occupied Seoul. Skillfully describing traditional Korean family structure, and vividly portraying the effects of Japanese rule, Three Generations presents a fierce battle between modern and traditional elements, as well as a chilling portrayal of the ruthlessness with which a colonial power imposed its will upon those under its control. Author Yom Sang-seop was one of the few Korean writers of the era who remained true to his ideals and did not write in Japanese or write pro-Japanese articles. A highly recommended and welcome contribution to modern Asian literature shelves.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
(A star rating is not appropriate for this novel.) Described as a "masterpiece of Korean fiction of the twentieth century" and as "one of the outstanding literary achievements during Korea's colonial era," Three Generations, written in 1931, has recently been translated into English for the first time. Published in Seoul as a newspaper serial from January through August of that year, author Yom Sang-seop appeals to his Korean audience with his vibrant characters and his depiction of real life, especially as lived by traditional, middle-class Koreans. For western readers, Three Generations is a bit daunting, at first, and readers are urged to read the Afterword before starting the novel. The novel's unexplained references to the Japanese in Seoul at the beginning of the story, the fact that Deok-gi, the main character, has been studying at Kyoto Prep School and at a Tokyo college, the tensions between some young Koreans and Japanese at a bar, references to "the Third Empire," and the mysterious political activities of characters referred to as "young Marxists" become more understandable when seen in the context which the Afterword provides.

The novel traces three generations of one family--the Jo family--consisting of a grandfather who is the family patriarch, his middle-aged son Sang-hun (and his wife), and Sang-hun's 23-year-old son Deok-gi (and his wife and baby), the character around whom most of the action revolves. The family lives in Seoul in a large traditional house with inner and outer quarters, separate living areas for the several families, and spaces for the family's servants.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J-whi on July 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A classic of Korean Literature the story sets the stage for the Korean war. The characters form a wider representation of who the Communist North and Anti-Communist South Korea would attract, and where the battle lines in Korean society would be drawn. From the waning of traditional values to the pull of the future, this lengthy story gives insight into pre-war Korean culture.
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