My premise is that the literary value of a text is not located only in the text but also decided and changed according to the context in which the reception of that text occurs. We need to imagine that the literary value of Dante Alighieri’s
We might suppose, then, that Dante appealed to Korean readers more strongly or uniquely than other Western writers. If they read Shakespeare, for example, they might have developed a stronger and more obvious cultural infatuation with the West, in that they would be more conscious of learning about and adopting modern Western civilization. By contrast, Dante’s most prevailing influence on them was to encourage them to indulge in literary pleasure while also raising a desire to learn about Western modernity.
I suggest that, unlike the reception of other Western writers, that of Dante in modern Korea was pursued through a reciprocal, horizontal and conversational relationship with the receiver. What made Dante’s literature universal was its power to endlessly alter its own language, rather than succumbing to the hegemony imposed by an imperialist language.2 Although we cannot deny that Dante’s writings were regarded as a symbol of Western enlightenment, and, as such, as a key factor in Korea’s process of modernization, his literature can also be understood as a creative counter-force, an object of powerful resistance to the homogenizing influence of modernity and the modern nation-state system (see Park, Sangjin 2007).
It is for this reason that I turn to the modern Korean writer Sin Ch’ae-ho, who strove to discover literature’s potential for resistance to the totalitarian social and political system established by Japanese imperialist rule, and further to overcome the homogeneity promoted by the nationalist tendencies in East Asia at that time. It is possible to say that Sin Ch’ae-ho wrote his novel
What the term alteration implies goes beyond a certain kind of adaptation of the
At a time when the style of the modern novel was coming to fulfillment in Korea,
It is difficult to verify whether Sin Ch’ae-ho possessed comparative literature’s concept of alteration; however, we can find the
Many papers on the history of modern Korean literature have tended to classify the works of Sin Ch’ae-ho as historical or biographical novels and to define their aims as patriotism and enlightenment. But this vision looks too simple, at least if we note that his texts are too solid and evocative to be defined as such. It is true that his allegories indicate such forms of national consciousness as the national spirit, national striving, historical consciousness and resistance, but, on the other hand, in order to evaluate his text properly, we need to scrutinize the universalizability of the meanings that these allegories may produce. In other words, the concept of marginal alteration leads us to understand the ideas of nation and history, which Sin Ch’ae-ho might have shown in his text, more universally.
1Eliot observes that in the Comedy we can find the “logic of sensibility”; both “logic” and “sensibility” here indicate human abilities that have decidedly allowed Dante the position of a writer and us that of ‘writerly’ readers (Eliot, 32–35). 2On Dante’s linguistic experiment to establish a de-centering language, see his usage of vernacular Italian in the Divine Comedy and his discussion of it in De Vulgari Eloquentia. 3Series of Tanjae Sin Ch’ae-ho. ed. by The Club of Commemoration for Tanjae Sin Ch’ae-ho. (Seoul: Hyungseol. 1995. vol. 2), 174–224. Hereafter cited as Series. 4In relation to this point, Choi Su-Jung’s statement is worth citing: “The characteristics of the structure and phantasmagoria in Sin Ch’ae-ho’s literature shows his individual recognition of reality and his power of material imagination that were all possible from his features of literary man and fighter at his time. As we see from his moderated representations, his literature is the result of both ideological attitude and radical imagination.”(Choi Su-Jung. p. 197). On the other hand we can refer to the argument that his novels contributed to the development of modern Korean literature by virtue of their heterogeneous peculiarity in comparison with other novels at that time. The literary writing of Sin Ch’ae-ho leads us to question what modern Korean literature is. His recognition and practice of literature differs from the concept and writings that the mainstream of modern Korean literature had hitherto produced. We need to consider that his particularity has the possibility of overthrowing the mainstream. On this kind of discourse, see Lee Dong-Jae. 5According to Min Chan, this is actually an original modern style of writing because it is traditional. “It is noteworthy that Sin Ch’ae-ho’s traditional form and methodology succeeded as a kind of post-modern literature. At his time when the fact that the traditional literature and modern literature were divided was approved tacitly, he developed his own way of writing though it was to some extent closer to the traditional literature, which can be regarded as an important example with which to explore the universal role of literature.” (Min Chan, 90).
In 1907, as Korea was coming under Japanese imperialist rule, Sin Ch’ae-ho translated the
Sin Ch’ae-ho’s interest in Dante is evident in his novel
In general this approach is related to the canonization of a text insofar as it allows us to re-highlight its literary values from diverse aspects; yet in the case of
Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, there is no direct evidence that Sin Ch’ae-ho had direct contact with Dante’s
Sin Ch’ae-ho, as the writer of
It has been taken for granted that Sin Ch’ae-ho accepted the survival of the fittest, as supported by the theory of social evolution, which was no more than the basic logic of imperialism. (Park, No-Ja 2005a, 244) This was a sort of intellectual surrender. (Park, No-Ja 2005a, 243). In the same way, the evaluation that the anarchist revolutionary Sin Ch’ae-ho was overwhelmed by the nationalist Sin Ch’ae-ho, who was injured by imperialism, might be more appropriate for him as the author of
However, it is worthwhile to re-highlight the symptoms of trans-nationalism in
At the beginning of the 1900s, Sin Ch’ae-ho strived to understand ‘nation’ on the basis of territorial homogeneity and historical continuity, but independently of nationalism as an ideology.11 Henry Em attempts to read Sin Ch’ae-ho’s literature as showing that his freer concept of nation led him to form his (literary) identity as a Korean under Japanese rule in such a way as not necessarily to be homogenized into a nation. (Em 1999a)12 In fact Sin Ch’ae-ho argued that the subject of revolution is no longer a nation but the proletariat, and that only this group would be able to eradicate the institutions that made it possible; here there exists a political program beyond nationalism and historical consciousness outside nationalist discourse.13
Sin Ch’ae-ho’s trans-nationalism should be more actively interpreted in terms of the complex logic of resistance and de-homogenization. This is strictly linked to the issue of ethics; his trans-nationalism makes ethics softer and more context-bound, which is what I describe as responding to the demands of the time. It was
Here Weisstein’s statement on the
Sin Ch’ae-ho was also one of those “few poets,” because his work bestowed a particular significance on Korean literature and its readers by rewriting Dante in the colonial period. He pursued a creative betrayal. The term betrayal may suggest that
Interestingly, the seven sins that Dante postulates in the
The hell described in
Dante’s paradise guarantees eternal happiness but Sin Ch’ae-ho’s paradise differs; it was once a peaceful place where the cultural properties of Korea were gathered and where those who had dedicated themselves to the independence of the nation lived, but now it is covered with dust. This ruined paradise symbolizes the reality of Korea under the rule of foreign countries. Sin Ch’ae-ho never allows himself to describe his paradise as a place separated from reality, but can only describe the figure of the ‘new man’ who incessantly fights for the national spirit even in this hopeless paradise.
In sum, Sin Ch’ae-ho’s
The hero of
The basic framework of
Therefore, by declaring that Hannom is the being in whom “sleep and dream are united with each other,” Sin Ch’ae-ho shows his own desire for independence in a very simple, direct and succinct way that justifies adopting Hannom as a guide. This reminds us of the
However, regardless of such an authorial intention, we need to consider its
Sin Ch’ae-ho and Dante use the same narrative technique in that they appeal to the readers directly; this is because they aim for the practical (or political) literature that can be achieved by the writer who maintains a clear consciousness of his reality.20 As in the
He was not alone from the beginning; his seven alter-egos form a oneness with the writer by being called “we” (191).24 The writer separates himself from the Hannom composed of seven entities and simultaneously unites himself in them; this is the landscape in which, through his separation and synthesis at the same place, the writer reflects himself by making them console, encourage and reprove each other. All of them are in fact a single body (this is what “Hannom” means actually) which is precisely Sin Ch’ae-ho himself and the community of the Korean nation. Therefore we can say that the scene where all of them are disunited and isolated allegorizes the collapse of community.
As the pilgrim Dante maintains his will to ascend throughout the
As mentioned above, the diverse identities which compose Hannom connote the situation of his split identity. Now there remain Tannom and Tunom; Tannom decides to live with a disengaged attitude and Tunom to surrender to the enemy. Hannom’s final decision in this situation is that as each has its own load each needs to go separately (200), yet in fact he hesitates about his decision because for him there remains the desire to unify his own alter-egos and internal troubles, and set them in order. Nonetheless he remains alone, which means that he bears the load by himself. 26 The six Hannoms who were reproduced in the same figure of Hannom were put in the text to show the problems that can take place when the nationalist who must be “Tae-a (大我)” cannot but be ardently attached to the desires of “So-a(小我)” that he encounters in the real situation: desperation due to hardship, temptation to live in splendor, jealousy of colleagues and, as a result, loss of nationalist patriotism so as not to build up “Tae-a.”27
Ultimately, Hannom has to travel in the transcendental world by himself; he desires the country of “Nim (esteemed person)” yet is lonely, tough and sad indefinitely (201). He desires a guide who can carry sympathy and an object of the sympathy, yet realizes that he will be unable to encounter the guide with his alter-egos or his contemporary community because the destination of that guidance is precisely his own future aim; in other words, the aim itself is the guide for Hannom. Thus Hannom’s travel is always guided by its prospect, and therefore Hannom is obliged to change incessantly yet remain the same; he is endlessly extended, continued and radiated, yet in this process of metamorphosis he cannot escape from the struggle (184), which, as discussed above, guarantees the endless continuity of Hannom’s identity of non-affiliation and context-boundness. Only through struggle do the metamorphosis and identity of Hannom co-exist (I will return to the issue of struggle in chapter 4).
At this point, it is interesting to observe that
In fact, he declared in the preface of
Sin Ch’ae-ho’s world appears succinct but if we look into its strata we can find there innumerable folds, which leads us to consider two points.
First, he designs the spiritual world as an eternally repeating world (182), in which the same scenes, including the errors of the earthly life, appear over and over again (199). It reminds us that in the
Second, the writer asks readers to consider as allegory what Buddhism and Christianity say about hell and paradise. This means abolishing the unrealistic view that this world is the middle and thus passive stage wherein one’s destiny, whether to go to hell or paradise, is decided. Problems that one faces, such as those of community, salvation and justice, are to be solved here in the earthly life, and the division between hell and paradise is made according to how hard one tries to solve such problems.
In Sin Ch’ae-ho’s world, everything is concluded according to the message from the sky (Nim), in line with which, more concretely, the victor goes to paradise while the defeated goes to hell. However, this principle differs from the logic of the survival of the fittest that we find in Social Darwinism. For Dante as well as for Sin Ch’ae-ho, to win in the struggle for justice is important;31 but what is more important is to ask what the struggle for justice should be and how one has to work for it. This ambiguous and fluid definition of justice and struggle is indispensable for understanding Dante as well as Sin Ch’ae-ho; the ways to solve this problem are what we have to consider in both writers.
After all, it is the struggle that sustains the fundamental world view of
The other companion of Hannom is history. For instance, Nim gave him a sword that Chŏng Ki-ryong, the general of loyal troops in 1592 when Japan invaded Korea, used. The writer makes the sword speak;
This is precisely to make history speak so as to highlight the judgment of history and the sword’s will to punish commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi. However, at the instant when Toyotomi Hideyoshi is transformed into “the greatest beautiful woman of the age,” Hannom drops the sword which becomes one of the reasons why Hannom falls into hell rather than justly ascending to paradise (211). Hannom, along with other people who do not understand what crime led them to hell, meets Kang Kam-ch’an, who was a distinguished general in Korean history and is now the messenger of hell, and he explains all. Now Hannom realizes that hell belongs to this world32 and asks a notable question:
The answer is:
The big crimes that Kang Kam-ch’an enumerates are five, but he sends to hell only the souls who committed the first unfaithfulness to their nation, which is exactly the crime of not responding to the demands of the time. Here hell becomes an ethical space. The nature of this crime is clarified in great detail by comparison with the rest of
Kang Kam-ch’an also emphasizes love; there are many kinds of love but the love that he emphasizes is directed only toward the nation. He takes love for a woman as an example of the other kinds of love and says that the two cannot be compatible at all (211). His concept of love includes the physical aspect and ideology. Concerning this, Kang Kam-ch’an says:
What the physical aspect signifies here is that ideology must be sustained by practice, which is comparable with the non-physical aspect in paradise. That is, while the love in paradise is not physical, the love in the situation which Hannom-Sin Ch’ae-ho faces must be physical. Kang Kam-ch’an’s moralizing lecture (212) concentrates in this way on the originality and uniqueness of patriotism.
What is interesting in
If one thinks that the Country of Nim (paradise) is in the sky and hell is under the earth, and thus the distance between them must be a thousand or ten thousand miles, this is merely so in human thought. The reality differs; the earth is the same and the time is the same; likewise, if you bring it down it becomes the country of Nim and if you turn it upside it becomes hell; if you run vertically you can go to the country of Nim and if you run horizontally you can go to hell; if you fly you will be in the country of Nim and if you crawl you will be in hell; if you catch it you will be in the country of Nim and if you lose it you will be in hell. In all, the distance between country of Nim and hell is merely this (213).
Hannom moves from hell to paradise in the same place. Just as in the
Saying “My body was not intrinsically bound to hell, so there is nothing to unbind,” Hannom shakes himself free, and thereupon without chain and jail only the body of Hannom rises aloft (212).
The identity of unbounded-ness, the liquid and fluid identity of Hannom makes the interleaving (existing in the same place) of hell and paradise possible, which means that Hannom’s subjective practice is what realizes the place of paradise; hell and paradise co-exist flexibly. They exist as non-place-ness, and change according to the ways of existence of the souls who cope with them or reside there. The souls in paradise are historical figures who pursued the subjective practice in diverse fields. Their work is to make brooms and sweep the sky because “today our sky is more dusty than our earth”(261), and the dust continues to accumulate so that there is no more “blue sky” and instead “white sky covers our head”(217). Hannom’s question on this is scrupulous and striking;
Although we can hardly find the answer to this question in the text, we can realize that there is not always a blue sky; there may be a
It is not possible to know how many died badly under this misty sky; thus if they repent of their past errors in this world and sweep the dust out of the sky altogether even from now on, it would not be difficult to maintain this sky, this sun and this moon as they are (219).
The salvation of Chosŏn is also the salvation of paradise and vice versa, which is the particular and universal mission for all mankind. This for Sin Ch’ae-ho is linked to opening up the horizon of a nation beyond the modern nation-system for which power and struggle function indispensably.
The writer sets the historical background of
In the introductory part of the text, the writer “sits on the blossom which is as large as a big room, laid on the innumerable miles of branch of the huge Rose of Sharon.”(176) Suddenly the sky parts and reddish rays stream out, and a government official, who wears a hat of soft cloud and a Turumagi (a traditional Korean man’s outer coat) which is more red than those rays, appears and shouts like thunder:
This proclamation is placed at the beginning of
The Rose of Sharon teaches the meaning of the struggle with her “sweet voice”:
What draws our attention here is the fact that the metamorphosis of Hannom leads the Rose of Sharon to suggest the meaning of struggle. His metamorphosis is linked to that of all things and nature, and appears as the figure of struggle. Although the metamorphosis takes place in his body, Hannom stands back in the position of an observer. However, even in that position Hannom is unable to understand the meaning of struggle, and the Rose of Sharon comes to teach it.
Here the flower undoubtedly indicates the abstract reality of the Han (Korean) nation (한민족). It is abstract because it does not indicate the immediate reality represented by Paektu Mountain and Chosŏn, but reality as the historical potential that is connoted in the flower’s statement:
Interestingly “Han (한)” may mean both Han (韓) and oneness (一), and “nom” (놈) means a real human existence and Sin Ch’ae-ho himself. Sin Ch’ae-ho identifies himself with Korea and thinks that struggling for the independence of Korea is his destiny and way of life. Ultimately, “Hannom” means the Korean nation as oneness and its realization, and further Sin Ch’ae-ho’s endeavor for it. The Han nation reproves and guides Hannom-the writer Sin Ch’ae-ho, and conversely Hannom-Sin Ch’ae-ho begins to realize fully his moral responsibility to respond to the demands of the time. The historical potential of the Han(Korean) nation is linked to the emergence of “Toryŏnggun (도령군)” at the end of the text (221). Here “Toryŏnggun” indicates directly the Hwarang of Shilla yet it encompasses the whole history and spirit of the Han nation, enlarging its origin and scope by referring to such historical texts as
The general Ŭlchimundŏk plays the same role. Hannom meets Ŭlchimundŏk, who lived about 2000 years ago. To Hannom, who hesitates over how to address him because of the distance in time, Ŭlchimundŏk explains the historical continuity of Korea ranging from Tan’gun to Koguryŏ and the historical identity of the Han nation.36 In response to his kindness Hannom makes a low bow in the Koguryŏ way (181–182), which shows the unification of the two identities by verifying their common historical roots. Here Ŭlchimundŏk’s definition of struggle is noteworthy in relation to power and salvation:
It follows that Ŭlchimundŏk, in response to Hannom’s mention of the
This principle is a universal one which can be applied to both this world and that world even in the country of Nim. Justice is not a clearly defined concept and thus practice (struggle) is required to maintain justice; justice can be justice only through struggle, which means that justice is always a process of practice. To think of this process-like nature is to maintain justice.
Here we need to scrutinize further the implications of the statement above that the writer Sin Ch’ae-ho and the protagonist Hannom are united. The Rose of Sharon asks Hannom to become conscious of the demands of the time; Hannom asks how to distinguish his own identity and the object of struggle:
The flower gives this acute explanation:
Sin Ch’ae-ho’s world view, in which the metamorphosing subject includes the universe, could be understood as cosmopolitanism. But the meaning of metamorphosis is neither complete nor sufficient in itself. In order for the metamorphosing subject to obtain self-sufficiency and perfection, it must be able to pursue struggle within itself. The metamorphosis consists of struggle. This is the way our world exists and operates. We do not know whether it is universal or not; all that we can tell is that for the writer Sin Ch’ae-ho these were the demands of the time, to which he had to respond as a practical intellectual.
Allegory deserves to be highlighted as the literary technique for sustaining concepts that are useful for understanding
What is the signified that we have to grasp and constitute in the allegories that Sin Ch’ae-ho created in
The most urgent literary task in the time of Sin Ch’ae-ho was to establish the perfectly new form and content through which the writer could configure the rapidly changing world situation. His approach was unique; its uniqueness derived from his attempts to embrace and express very actively his duty as an intellectual-writer on the ideological and aesthetic bases of Korea, in terms of both form and content. It is precisely in this respect that we need to pay special attention to the allegory. Probably Sin Ch’ae-ho had no chance of acquainting himself with allegory, insofar as it has been a technique formed in the long history of Western literature. Nevertheless we can recognize that the abundant allegories in
Allegory should be explored because it links the problems of the here-and-now to the universal. The allegories that Sin Ch’ae-ho used were general and traditional rather than particular and individual, so that readers are able to understand the connotations in the text through them without difficulty. In this respect
Sin Ch’ae-ho used allegory to fulfill his responsibility as an intellectual to the contemporary times and society. What we can find in the allegorical representation in
Yi Do-Yeon holds that in
6Series. (Annex). pp. 184–187. Sin Ch’ae-ho states that “In Italy there were great poets like Dante and great idealists like Mazzini; after they expressed the national spirit, the country gained order.” (ibid. 187) Also it is worth noticing that in his writings “Hero and World” (ibid. 111–3) in 1908 and “Heroes of the Twentieth Century New Oriental World” (Series. Vol. 2. pp. 111–6) in 1909, Sin Ch’ae-ho focuses on the possibility of re-highlighting the heroes’ lives in terms of the present. 7Many literary manuscripts by Sin Ch’ae-ho were not published. He was held in prison from 1928 and died in 1936. Afterwards they were forgotten. Though some tried to publish them, it was to no avail because of the censorship under Japanese imperialism. In the 1960s they began to be published in such North Korean magazines as Chosŏn munhak and Munhak sinmun between 1964 and 1965. Dream Sky was first introduced in Munhak sinmun on October 20, 1964 with Ju Ryong-Gul’s commentary. According to Kim Byung-Min, his manuscripts were arranged in the National Central Library of North Korea from 1966 onwards (Kim, Byung-Min, 2–3). In South Korea, the Committee for Editing the Series of Sin Ch’ae-ho was established in 1970 and the first Series were published in 1972 at Hyungsul Press (Series of Tanjae Sin Ch’ae-ho. ed. by The Club of Commemoration for Tanjae Sin Ch’ae-ho. Seoul: Hyungseol. 1995). So Dream Sky was not shown to the public until 1964. 8On the reception of Dante in modern Korean literature, see Park, Sangjin 2007. 9Here we need to refer to his feature as the so-called ‘inclusive transcendental’ in his “Chosŏn hyŏngmyung sŏnŏn (Proclamation of Chosŏn Revolution).” On the other hand, this point relates to his unique recognition of modernity. See Kim, In-Hwan. Chai Jin-Hong. Park Jung-Sim. 10Sin Ch’ae-ho. Dream Sky. p. 175. Hereafter, only the page number will be cited with parenthesis. 11This proposition is the basis of the whole position of the book: Gi-Wook Sin and Michael Robinson. 12Henry Em. “Nationalism, Post-Nationalism, and Sin Ch’ae-ho,” Korea Journal, Summer 1999, pp. 283–317. 13Henry Em maintains that Sin Ch’ae-ho’s concept of the people (minjung) led him to overcome the narrow category of nation and to move his historiography toward a transnational dimension. (Henry Em 1999b). 14Sin Ch’ae-ho’s novels have long been evaluated as examples of the traditional and pre-modern style. See Han Keum-Yun, Ryu Yang-Sun, Kim Sung-Kuk, Yun Myung-Ku, Yu Jong-Kuk, Sin Ch’ae-ho Jae-Hong, and Cho Dong-Il. 15Yang Eon-Suk defines it as a “traditional mongyu (몽유) novel.” (Yang Eon-Suk, 1). 16See Han Keum-Yun (1998). 17I agree with Lee Chang-Min’s argument that Dream Sky can be more properly understood when we approach it through the theory of representation which differs from the theory of imitation; it tends to stimulate imagination so as to harmonize phantasmagoria and reality. (Lee Chang-Min, 67). I think his argument sustains the assumption that Sin Ch’ae-ho utilized Dante in order to create his representation rather than imitate him. Interestingly Yi Do-Yeon grasps this point from a romanticist perspective; that is, Sin Ch’ae-ho’s imagination starts from yearning and proceeds within yearning so that it does not reach completion and remains in the process of eternal generation. (Yi Do-Yeon, 224–225). In my view, eternal generation is something that Dream Sky appeals for over and over again: for instance, in the future potential for an independent nation. 18See Park, Sangjin, 2011 (particularly chapter 2). 19Yi Chang-Min. p. 68. We can define Dream Sky as one of the mongyu novels lacking the stage of entering the dream(immong/입몽), if we follow Sin Ch’ae-ho Jae-Hong’s classification according to which the typical narrative structure consists of entering the dream, guiding, sitting, discussing, the banquet, the performance and exiting from the dream (Sin Ch’ae-ho Jae-Hong, 275). 20On this proposition, see George Orwell (p. 5). According to him, all writings are political. 21The writer calls Hannom “I”, which indicates the writer himself (185). According to the Chronological Record of Sin Ch’ae-ho, he used Hannom for one of his pen names (Chronological Record. In Series. Vol. 2. p. 495). In all, Dream Sky was an autobiographical novel (see Chronological Record. P. 500). 22In national literary trends of the 1970s, Sin Ch’ae-ho was mainly highlighted as a historian and thinker, and there was discussion of how such aspects were projected in his figure of the literary writer. (Han Keum-Yun, 137–138). 23This corresponds to the way that Dante takes the Roman poet Virgil as his guide and considers Rome as the ideal community. In addition, they dream the ‘utopia’ which is the community that is now absent but to be achieved in the near future; for them the community is represented as the process of achieving itself rather than that achieved already. I have explained this with the term “utopia in-process.” (Park, Sangjin 2010, 27–47). 24Dante uses the pronoun ‘our’ in the first part of Inferno to show that his book was written for all mankind. 25This term refers to the rule of the elite youth in the Silla Dynasty who excelled in beauty, bravery and military arts. 26This solution sounds similar to that in the Comedy. See Purgatorio 6. 133–135 and Paradiso 5. 55–57. 27Han Geum-Yun. 145. Here ‘Tae-a’ can be written as ‘the Big I’ while ‘So-a’ is ‘the Small I’. The relationship between the Big I and the Small I is the main basis of his ambitious construction of Korean history Chosŏn sanggosa, in which he strives to seek the origin of Korea. 28See Hong Myung-Hee’s statement; “Sin Ch’ae-ho wrote many novels but he didn’t have any intention to present them. He did it in order to express the outcry of Chosŏn, the fidelity of Chosŏn, broken out from the bottom of his unbearable heart.” (Hong Myung-Hee). See also the concept of “acceptability” suggested by Jung Gin-Won (108–111) in relation to the aesthetic evaluation of Dream Sky. 29Yi Seon-Young defines it as “poetic prose style.” (See Yi Seon-Young). 30See Cho Dong-Il’s comments in his Hankuk munhak t’ongsa. Vol. 4. p. 330. 31The problem of justice was one of Dante’s main concerns for building up a human community, as we can see in his Comedy and De monarchia. There are many articles about it, and I discussed it in my paper (Park, Sangjin 2010). 32The recognition that hell belongs to this world has long been expressed by Italian writers such as Dante, Calvino, Pasolini and Primo Levi. 33Interestingly, the punishment in Dream Sky is based on the principle of contrapasso as in the Comedy. 34Here the East and the West directly indicate Koguryŏ and Sui (隋) (182) and indirectly indicate Chosŏn and Japan or the Western powers. 35This reminds us of Dante’s pride in his own description of metamorphosis, which he considers much better than that of Ovid. See Inferno 25. 92–103. Sin Ch’ae-ho’s description of the metamorphosis of Hannom (184–185) is very dynamic and vivid. 36Virgil does the same thing to the pilgrim Dante. 37“What is history? History is the record of the psychological activities of the struggle between the I and the non-I in human society, which has enlarged and developed in time and space. . . what is the I and what is the non-I? . . . the I is one who is in the subjective position and the rest is the non-I. . . Therefore history is the record of struggle between the I and the non-I.” Sin Ch’ae-ho. Chosŏn sanggosa. In Series. Vol. 1. p. 33. This fundamental view of history was repeatedly submitted, along with the terms “indigenous Chosŏn,” “free people,” “popular economy” and “popular culture,” in Sin Ch’ae-ho’s papers “Chosŏn hyŏngmyŏng sŏnŏn” and “Nanggaek ŭi sinnyŏn manp’il.” According to Yi Do-Yeon, we can hardly find such an acute recognition of the contemporary situation and the nature of empire in other papers of that time. (Yi Do-Yeon, 228–229). 38The Comedy tells that in Limbo there are many souls who were lazy in their commitment to struggle or duty in earthly life: for instance, Pontius Pilatus, who avoided judging Jesus, and Lucifer, who rejected God’s grace. They were faithful only to themselves, without pursuing the struggle for justice. See Inferno-Canto 3. The metamorphosis of Hannom shows that justice can be justified only in and toward struggle. 39In this sense I agree with Kim Chang-Hyun’s explanation that the past research into fabular literature has not sufficiently considered the historical consciousness and the aesthetic form in Dream Sky, and therefore the concept of allegory needs to be used for more profound research. (Kim Chang-Hyun, 365–366). 40Sin Ch’ae-ho. “The Big I and the Small I.” In Series. Vol. 2. pp. 81–83. 41In this respect, Sin Ch’ae-ho criticized the fact that the non-I is included in the I in his article “Proclamation of Chosŏn Revolution.”(in Series. Vol. 2. pp. 38–40).
David Damrosch holds that works of world literature are best read with an awareness of the work’s original cultural context, but they typically wear this context rather lightly. When we read the
How many contexts are required to evaluate a text properly depends on the text itself and the aims with which the text is read. Therefore we can say that the universality of a text derives from its power to overcome any specific space-time, which means that the text should be read differently according to the different space-times and at the same time maintain its consistency. This is what I have described as alteration. A high level of diverse alteration, which requires the text to sustain its consistency along with its altered features, guarantees its universalizability. The original context of the
Dante has his own particular world and all the notes of the
We can never neglect both the original context of the
The consciousness of marginal alteration helps us question whether universality can be maintained in the Others’ contexts and vice versa. To sum up, the ultimate concern of what I have called marginal alteration is to maintain both universal and local contexts; we need to try to maintain a consciousness of the Others’ contexts which enables us to have a more just vision. In the case that concerns us, the original Dante, which consists in his own poetic form, characters and events, mostly disappeared in
42Damrosch refers to Dimock, Wai Chee. “Literature for the Planet.” PMLA. 116.1. 2001. 173–188.