Friday, September 19, 2008
Encounter, by Moo-Sook Hahn
A must-read tour-de-force for anyone with interest in Korean history or literature. Tasan was a highly regarded Confucian scholar, who chose a life of poverty for scholarship, and to find out more about Catholicism, which had just entered Korea via the Jesuits in China (a Bible was brought from Beijing during one of Korea's regular tributary visits to its suzerain leader). Less than a Xian testament, this exceptional narrative reveals a precise picture of 18th and 19th century Korean life, politics, class, an deeply thoughtful and informed internal struggle, and how Confucian and Xian ideals, when realized, are compatible.