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Comparative Studies on Two Variations of ‘Seolsaeng’ Story

  • Journal of Korean Literature
  • 2018, (37), pp.281-310
  • DOI : 10.52723/JKL.37.281
  • Publisher : The Society Of Korean Literature
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature
  • Received : March 31, 2018
  • Accepted : May 10, 2018
  • Published : May 31, 2018

Solmi Chung 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to explore the genre distance between the Jeon(傳; biography) and the Yadam(野談; unofficial story) by contrasting two different stories that deal with the same material. One is ‘Seolsaeng jeon’, written by Oh-Doil(吳道一: 1645∼1703) and another is ‘A tale of Seolsaeng’ written by Shin-Donbok(辛敦複: 1692~1779). Both works share a common protagonist, Seolsaeng, a hermit, and also very similar storylines. ‘Seolsaeng jeon’ is generally consistent with the traditional format of Jeon, as it is composed of both story and comment parts. However, on close inspection, ‘Seolsaeng jeon’ can be seen to incorporate the writing styles of Yadam and also Yuki(遊記: journal of a travel), thus demonstrating some modifications and combination of genre. Of course, this genre movement is closely related to its theme of the text. As the author’s conflict between the public service and retirement(出處), or eminence and seclusion(隱顯 ), is a main theme of this work, he chooses the Jeon as a main genre to lead the narrative. Other genres are introduced in order to reflect the writer’s frustration and fear in the sensitive political situation. ‘A tale of Seolsaeng’, on the other hand, is stylistically close to the Jeon genre, even though it is an example of Yadam, since the motive for the writing is very similar to typical Jeon. However, the theme of ‘A tale of Seolsaeng’ is totally different from the main subject of ‘Seolsaeng jeon’: it focuses on the earthly desire and mysticism, not the conflict between seclusion and eminence. It deliberately erases the main theme of ‘Seolsaeng jeon’ and switches it into an unconventional theme. By analyzing theses two different works, this paper concludes that although active genre movement can be seen in the late Chosŏn dynasty, the essential function of the works have been maintained. The two different works are the representative examples which can demonstrate the Jeon and the Yadam’s typical thematic features, despite the format of the texts having been modified.

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