Yi Yuk-sa was a poet of resistance who aimed to overcome the colonial reality of the Joseon Dynasty with his indomitable willpower. This paper examines the flow of self-awareness revealed in Yi Yuk-sa’s essay based on the viewpoint provided by Paul Ricoeur’s narrative identity(triple mimesis theory).
The main point stressed by Ricoeur's poetics is that narrative identity is constructed through the relationships with others and also the interchange with texts like traditions, history, and education. Based on the fact that essay is a form of writing about the writer's life story, there is a point of contact with the understanding about text-mediated narrative identity.
Firstly, the main world of preunderstanding(mimesisⅠ/prefiguration) for Yi Yuk-sa is a ‘Confucian discourse in an intimidating scale’, including traditions, a code of conduct, and an awareness system. Under the Confucian nature which points out the importance of rules of ethics, he embodied basic Confucian refinement, including the principles of life and personal duties required to live as a member of community.
Moreover, he acquired a strategic directivity towards the anti-Japanese movement by new learning that he gained through Japan and China as well as new ideologies. The autonomous historical consciousness that shaped under this influence served as the basis for Yi Yuk-sa’s own existence. The act of embodying(mimesisⅡ) narratives before it shaped into narratives through languages, symbols and signs established a foundation for internalizing the patriotic resistance awareness even further. With this, we have reached a point where we recognize that Yi Yuk-sa’s writings symbolize a time of self- reflection as an anti-Japanese patriot and also a literary response that he chose as a detour of resistance.
Likewise, the text internalized(re-figuration/mimesisⅢ) by Yi Yuk-sa ‘applied’ as practical acts. Despite the Japanese oppression, he sustained his identity as an anti-Japanese patriot by fulfilling his self-promise to stay determined about his anti-Japanese spirit.
In conclusion, the self-awareness revealed in Yi Yuk-sa’s essay was classified into three mimesis phases of narrative identity and the findings revealed that the text world formed and transformed into a new world of acts and each phase of mimesis mutually functions as a foundation for the other stages. Namely, Yi Yuk-sa’s patriotic spirit of resistance internalized based on the historical consciousness constructed under the Confucian discourse was embodied as the literature of ‘acts’, an existence method of sustained self-examination, and it was identified that this developed into ethical practical awareness of the 'self' acting based on his own spontaneity.