Korean American Books

Summaries and reviews of fiction and nonfiction books by Korean American authors,
books about Korean Americans and Korea, and Korean literature in English translation,
including some academic works and a sampling on the Korean War

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Corea: The Hermit Nation by Wm. Elliot Griffis

Originally published in 1882 (my copy, fifth printing, 1907), this early history of Korea in English by Japanese historian William Elliot Griffis became the dominant text on Korea during a critical period of history when Western interests began to converge on the peninsula. While Griffis has a distinctively pro-Japan pont of view, and much of his research is based on Japanese texts, his bibliography also includes a few Chinese sources, and all the extant English, French, Dutch and missionary-written reports of investigations, both failed and successful, into the kingdom. The "contemporary" history is important for its insight into Japan's politics toward infiltrating and its ultimate takeover of Korea.
The dedication reads: 
To all Corean Patriots: who seek by the aid of science, truth, and pure religion, to enlighten themselves and their fellow-countrymen, to rid their land of superstition, bigotry, despotism, and priestcraft—both native and foreigh—and to preserve the integrity, independence, and honor, of their country; this unworthy sketch of their past history and present condition is dedicated.

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