*Selected as a Best Book of the Year by NPR and The Washington Post *
The Story of Hong Gildong is arguably the single most important work of classic Korean fiction. Read more...
*Selected as a Best Book of the Year by NPR and The Washington Post*
The Story of Hong Gildong is arguably the single most important work of classic Korean fiction. A fantastic story of adventure, it has been adapted into countless movies, television shows, novels, and comics in Korea. Until now, the earliest and fullest text of this incredible fable has been inaccessible to English readers.
Hong Gildong, the brilliant but illegitimate son of a noble government minister, cannot advance in society due to his second-class status, so he leaves home and becomes the leader of a band of outlaws. On the way to building his own empire and gaining acceptance from his family, Hong Gildong vanquishes assassins, battles monsters, and conquers kingdoms. Minsoo Kang s expressive and lively new translation finally makes the authoritative text of this premodern tale available in English, reintroducing a noble and righteous outlaw and sharing a beloved hallmark of Korean culture.
"Hong Gildong is an iconic figure in the Korean literary canon...He's the mythic center of a sometimes-delightful, sometimes-unsettling tale, and it's time the Western world gets to know him." NPR
" A] marvel-filled swashbuckler...Besides being half fairy tale, half social protest novel, The Story of Hong Gildongpossesses a profound resonance for modern Koreans." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
In this old Korean tale, the illegitimate son of a government minister, barred from civil and military service, becomes the leader of a group of righteous bandits and later king of his own lands. The fast-paced, sometimes fantastical story of the underdog who becomes a hero—which has been adapted into books, films, television shows, video games, and comics—is “arguably the single most important work of classic (i.e., premodern) prose fiction in Korea,” according to translator Kang, associate professor of European history at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. In his helpful introduction, Kang (Sublime Dreams of Living Machines) challenges modern understandings of the story’s origins and intent, asserting that the work most likely comes from the 19th century—traditional scholarship places the work in the 17th century. Kang also explains the social context of Hong Gildong’s dilemma during the Joseon dynasty of the 16th century and discusses the story’s significance to modern Koreans. Kang has translated the longest and perhaps oldest version of the tale (a shorter manuscript was published in English in 1968 and reprinted in a 1981 anthology). Detailed endnotes provide further information for curious readers. This engaging, essential tale will interest not only students of classic East Asian literature but enthusiasts of Korean modern culture. (Mar.)