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Yi Mun yol is perhaps my favourite of the Korean authors from the post war generation of Korean authors, based on his classic My Twisted Hero and his first novel, The Son of Man, which was one of my favourite reads of 2016.The Poet tells the story of the 19th Century Korean itinerant poet Kim Pyeong yeon , better known by his nickname Kim Sakkat or Kim of the Bamboo Rain Hat Foron the poetry, see the English edition of his colle Yi Mun yol is perhaps my favourite of the Korean authors from the post war generation of Korean authors, based on his classic My Twisted Hero and his first novel, The Son of Man, which was one of my favourite reads of 2016.The Poet tells the story of the 19th Century Korean itinerant poet Kim Pyeong yeon , better known by his nickname Kim Sakkat or Kim of the Bamboo Rain Hat Foron the poetry, see the English edition of his collected works my review was born to a pivotal moment in Korea s development He was born and grew up in an age when new ideas, especially the Practical Learning and Catholicism, were being introduced from China There was no challenge to the monarchy or the system of government as such, but questions were beginning to arise in structural terms about such issues as the possession and distribution of wealth and the nature of human relationships.As a child, grew up in a noble family, but his grandfather, governor of a Northern region, was convicted of treason when he first surrender to a rebellion, then was believed to have actually joined his sympathies to the rebel The grandfather was hung and quartered and the death sentence would normally have applied to his descendants to the 2nd generation, so the young was taken to live with a family retainer as his son Even when clemency of a sort was granted to the family, the stench of treachery still lingered The entire retaliatory system against treason was tenacious and thorough, even when it deigned to show a degree of leniency They royal court might have decided against carrying out the penalty directly, but that by no means meant that the system as such had abandoned its malice towards them The ideology of the system, long incubated through various pedagogical methods, together with the examples of fearful punishment frequently meted out on traitors, had raised people s responses to an almost instinctive level Not only the classes who shared in the structures and advantages of society, but even those who were the victims of those structures, had been conditioned to shudder instinctively at the very word traitor and to consider treason as some kind of deadly disease that could be caught merely by being in the proximity of the descendants of such a persons novel is ostensibly a historic retelling of s life, but the author writes it as a commentary on the traditional accounts of his life, attempting to fill in the gaps and provide his owncoherent, albeit partially fiction, version As an example, the traditional accounts start with the teenager winning a poetry competition with a polemic against the treacherous governor, not realising the family connection, only to find out afterwards that his target was his own grandfather Here the author questions the likelihood of this could the poet really have grown up fleeing for his life and moving from prosperity to poverty, shunned by society, without realising why and suggests what might have happened by giving his own, unsourced account of his life up to the competition Ultimately, the novel equates poetry will rebellion, having little sympathy forabstract and academic approaches Not all non conformists are poets But all poets are non conformists Some poets have absolutely none of the usual characteristics of a non conformist They are faithful to the normal order of life, laughing at its joys, weeping at its sorrows Yet they too are non conformists For if a person is a poet at all, he is bound to deviate from the norm at least in the use of language Language can rise to the heavenly realms of high poetry only when it transcends the muddy ground of practicality After becoming a father and seeming to settle down, makes the radical decision to leave his wife and children and become an itinerant poet, donning the trademark hat that would give him the name by which he became known It was now, as he prepared to set out, that he put on for the first time the large bamboo hat destined in later times to give him the nickname which replaced his true name completely He wore it to conceal himself from Heaven s gaze, to which he felt that he could no longer expose himself with a clear conscience, on account of the sin of disloyalty to the throne he had inherited with his blood from their grandfather, and the sin against family piety of which he himself had been guilty towards his grandfather, to which had to be added a further sin against piety since he had been unable to fulfil his mother s lifelong hopes.Perhaps there was yet another feeling of guilt he hoped to hide under that all covering bamboo shield, that arising from the pity inspired by his wife as she saw him off, trembling with a nameless dread yet never once asking him not to go, with Hak kyun out playing childish games and little Ik kyun nothingthan a new born babythe Korean caption reads, where shall I go today is almost as famous for his colourful life as for his, clever but cutting and often scatological, poetry but s focus is on how his poetry developed and the influences from his life that led to his poetic development As for the other incidents that happened in the Diamond Mountains, the reporting of them can be left to the colourful legends about him The main concern here is his life as a poet, not as a buffoon, a philanderer, a beggar, or a sharp tongue There is just one episode that needs to be told in detail, that involving his encounter with the Old Drunkard For it was that meeting that finally led him to take the turning that made a poet of him This fateful meeting took place in the Diamond Mountains now known as or Mount Kumkang and in North Korea , an area to which the poet returned frequently and which inspired much of his poetry The drunkard in question turned out to be a poet and questioned s own aesthetic approach, basedon his burning sense of guilt and resentment than any real poetic sensibility He had set out Away from home and kindred, from the past and its wounded, shattered ambitions But he was still only someone deviating from the norm, not yet fully a poet Needless to say, he frequently wrote poems, but only as one necessary accomplishment of a scholar or a pastime suitable for a gentleman, their dominant emotion was not essentially poetic, but the sentiment of resentment and idleness which now replaced the ambition that had previously burned in him.But the Old Drunkard tells himTrue poetry stands solely by its own worth It doesn t have to grovel before the powerful, it has no need to be cowed in the presence of learning It doesn t have to keep one eye on the feelings of the rich, it has no need to fear the hatred of the deprived It is not to be measured with the yardstick of what is right, or weighed only on the scales of what is true It is self contained and self sufficientalso has another purpose in mind than a simple if worthwhile historical novel s novels often touch on religion and the poet s guilt has clear echoes of original sin The shadow of a complicity that ultimately came to seem like a sense of original sin, on account of the way guilt with crime was considered to be inherited with public sentiment for the preservation of the systemlike an obsession than simple obedience and the lust for revenge always being revived by the inertia of the lower administration, he eventually came to consider the state and its laws as nothing but latent violenceAnd equally pertinently the stain on his record equally echoes that of those whose families end up caught on opposite sides of the Korean War, both in the war itself and the subsequent decades of anti Communist anti capitalist persecution in the South and North respectively, a situation that applies to the author himself a topic explored further in the novella Meeting With My Brother, next on my reading list The novel contains a clever nod to this towards the end when the poet finds himself caught up in a popular rebellion The poetry included at this point in the novel, unlike the other poems featured which are historic originals, is actually of the author s own invention, as the translator explains The revolutionary poems in this chapter, unlike the poems quoted previously, are not part of the works traditionally ascribed to the poet They are composed by Yi Mun yol in conscious imitation of radical workers poems written in recent years in South Korea or of the militant songs of the North Korean regime The novel ends, movingly, with the historically documented and unsuccessful attempt of the poet s son to make his father come back to the family home In the novel, his son realises the attempt is ultimately futile Would he be able to make clouds move and flowers bloom, once back in his own shabby room with its thatched roof Would he still be able to live lofty and indifferent like some old pine tree or a moss covered rock, once supported by the labours of Ik kyun, his wife, and mother, and doing his own share of trivial housekeeping chores Would his father still be able to be a poet, in the midst of cold stares directed at an old failure come home to prepare for death, or surrounded by a throng of third rate poets drawn like moths around a light to the faded name of someone who in youth had been famous Would he still be able to be a poet The man moving away in the glimmering darkness was not his father He was a poet, and nothing else A poet tied down by nothing in the whole world His father moved beyond the brushwood gate of the inn and stepped on to the grassy forest trail at that very moment he vanished completely Has he turned into a tree Or a rock Or a white brier rose Or the early morning mist now beginning to thickenAs those thoughts came to him, Ik kyun quickly changed his still unspoken words of protest into a blessing Farewell May you ever find peace and plenty in your poetry Ultimately a fascinating character study of a poet s life and vocation, albeit one where the prose is very far from lyrical The English reader also struggles a little with the poetry, which relies rather heavily on Chinese and Korea world play see review of the Collected Works linked above and has to take the traditional accounts, on which the author comments, on trust The translation is by Brother Anthony of Taize, a truly wonderful ambassador for Anglo Korean relations and for Korean literature, working here with Chong wa Chung, and who also provided a very helpful introduction as well as notes on these topics where needed.Useful reviews and articles The complete text of the book Anthony of Taize on translating Korean literature articles in the excellent Korean Literature in Translation website s Reading List, the other go to place for K lit reviews The Complete Review review the go to site for pretty much all translated literature [[ READ EPUB ]] ⇬ The Poet ⇰ When the King s governor, after falling into rebel hands and changing sides, is recaptured by the royal troops, not only is he executed but his son and grandsons are, by family tie, condemned to death as traitors The little grandsons are quickly sent away in disguise to save their lives While the elder boy grows up to be a street vendor living by his wits and reconciled to the loss of status, it is on the younger son that their mother pins her hopes of recovering the family s social position In The Poet, Yi Mun yol tells the story of this younger son, the wandering poet who lived in the strictly hierarchical Korea of thanyears ago a man driven to the margins of society even as he strove for recognition as an outstanding poet a man constantly tempted to make compromises, even to the point of betraying his family, in order to fulfil his mother s ambition and yet survive as a free spirit This delicately told story of a lonely fight for self respect, of a quest to reconcile duty and privilege in an oppressive society, is a luminous parable for our times Balancing the Load after falling into rebel hands and changing sides Most Likely To... is recaptured by the royal troops Blind (Lorelei Bluffs Book 3) not only is he executed but his son and grandsons are The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat (Beatrice Young Cat Mystery by family tie Gordo & the Gringo condemned to death as traitors The little grandsons are quickly sent away in disguise to save their lives While the elder boy grows up to be a street vendor living by his wits and reconciled to the loss of status Selendang Pelangi it is on the younger son that their mother pins her hopes of recovering the family s social position In The Poet Dünyanın Üç Yüzü Yi Mun yol tells the story of this younger son Maniilaq the wandering poet who lived in the strictly hierarchical Korea of thanyears ago a man driven to the margins of society even as he strove for recognition as an outstanding poet a man constantly tempted to make compromises Secret Admirer even to the point of betraying his family The Penguin Pool Murder (Hildegarde Withers in order to fulfil his mother s ambition and yet survive as a free spirit This delicately told story of a lonely fight for self respect Confessions Of A Not-So-Dead Libido of a quest to reconcile duty and privilege in an oppressive society Ash to Embers (Courting Shadows, is a luminous parable for our times Shiin The Poet 1992 is a piece of historical fiction written by one of Korea s leading contemporary novelists, Yi Mun yol b 1948 , which resurrects the life and times of the poet Kim Pyong yon 1807 1863 It appears that Yi chose to write about Kim because they had a fundamental commonality Kim was the grandson of a traitor and Yi s father defected to North Korea on ideological grounds during the Korean War and left his family behind The consequences for both Kim and Yi went we Shiin The Poet 1992 is a piece of historical fiction written by one of Korea s leading contemporary novelists, Yi Mun yol b 1948 , which resurrects the life and times of the poet Kim Pyong yon 1807 1863 It appears that Yi chose to write about Kim because they had a fundamental commonality Kim was the grandson of a traitor and Yi s father defected to North Korea on ideological grounds during the Korean War and left his family behind The consequences for both Kim and Yi went well beyond schoolyard hazing.But Kim Pyong yon was also a very colorful figure who still has a presence in modern Korean popular culture, where he is known as Kim Sakkat after the reed or bamboo hat worn by the Korean working classes at the time When his grandfather, the magistrate of a major city, collaborated with rebels against the central government who had overrun the provincial capital and who were swept away again by the government s army, the former governor and three generations of his family were all condemned to death not unusual in East Asia Kim and one of his brothers were hidden in the home of a former servant and escaped execution But Kim could not escape the consequent life on the margins of society He made a kind of living as an itinerant poet, coining clever poems for a meal or a room, sometimes winning one of the innumerable poetry contests common throughout East Asia in the 19th century and before in order to cash in the prize In the legend which has built up around him he was a womanizer and a fervent fan of the byproducts of rice fermentation So, clearly there is much for Yi to work with here, and work with it he does Out of the welter of legends and facts about Kim he constructs a plausible life story that holds one s interest closely This Kim is certainly not admirable, but he is convincingly real His hopes of regaining high status as a scholar dashed, full of resentment, bitterness and self absorption, he abandons his wife and two small sons to fend for themselves and wanders the country making a living as mentioned He often uses his poems as weapons to hurt or embarrass his opponents One of the legends is how he had a poetry contest with a proud monk, for which the ground rules were that if one of the combatants were unable to continue the poem according to the complex rules they had established, he would have to pull one of his own teeth out In the legend the monk ends up toothless This is held to be a mark of the excellence of Kim s poetic capabilities I want to know what kind of son of a bitch would even agree to such a competition The man was bitter, bitter, bitter.Fortunately, Kim has a chance meeting with the Old Drunkard, who planted the seed of the realization that poetry is not rules and cleverness, but character and insight The old man defends an attitude similar to that of the original Taoist masters Chuang tzu and Lao tzu The Old Drunkard equated poet with sage Though it was only a seed, and the story of Kim s new life as itinerant poet was just beginning, the seed was to germinate and sprout After various adventures and internal development, Yi s Kim eventually realizes that the true poet s poem is his life, that the true poet is a sage Worldly ambition and the bitterness and resentment that come with unfulfilled ambition are unutterably irrelevant The book ends with Kim s apotheosis as witnessed by his eldest sonIn the process of telling this story of Kim, Yi also provides a picture of life in Korea at the end of the Choson era, when the social fabric was tearing under the strains of poor harvests and the total corruption of all the institutions in the country, when governments officials at all levels were interested solely in enriching themselves and maintaining their advantages, when the military would steal everything they could carry as they moved about the country beating down rebellions, and when the Confucian meritocracy was only a shadow of itself.Western readers should be forewarned that Yi does not observe the conventions of historical fiction they are familiar with neither does Shiba Ryotaro, though Shiba s and Yi s works vary from our expectations in different ways In much of the text it appears that Yi intends to write a critical biography of Kim he pulls back from the story, analyzes the evidence and proposes hypotheses and arguments Elsewhere he empathetically projects himself directly into Kim s mind and gives us his thoughts and actions along the lines of historical fiction in the modern West This inconsistency in tone and authorial stance may disturb some readers, but theI read outside of the 19th and 20th century Western fictional canon, the less I care about such matters The crux is whether the author communicates something interesting, beautiful, moving and or profound No The image above is that of a monument to Kim Pyong yon According to this sourcehttp www.ktlit.com kim sakkat korea among others, Kim Sakkat was also influential in the Korean rap scene and was mentioned by name in the first Korean rap Though the grandfather was drawn and quartered , most of the family survived by scattering throughout the country until they were pardoned a few years later Their lives were spared, but their property remained confiscated Isn t it the case that some postmodernists reject these kinds of consistency in favor of other kinds Conventions do help to ease communication, but they also quickly become restrictive and limiting, not only on expression but even on the ability to perceive Rating Diziden kitaba uyarlama olan Gizli Bah e yi saymazsak Kore edebiyat ndan okudu um ilk kitap oluyor air Yazar burada efsaneden do an ilgin bir halk hikayesini me hur air Kim Sakkat n biyografisini kaleme alm As l ismi Byungyeon olan air, tarihi Kore dizilerinde s k a g rd m z Joseon hanedan zaman nda ya am Hikaye 1811 y l nda air 5 ya ndayken ba l yor Dedesi Kim ksun soylu biri olmas na ra men devlete ihanet ediyor ve soy kurutma cezas na arpt l yor Yani bu durumda Byungyeon Diziden kitaba uyarlama olan Gizli Bah e yi saymazsak Kore edebiyat ndan okudu um ilk kitap oluyor air Yazar burada efsaneden do an ilgin bir halk hikayesini me hur air Kim Sakkat n biyografisini kaleme alm As l ismi Byungyeon olan air, tarihi Kore dizilerinde s k a g rd m z Joseon hanedan zaman nda ya am Hikaye 1811 y l nda air 5 ya ndayken ba l yor Dedesi Kim ksun soylu biri olmas na ra men devlete ihanet ediyor ve soy kurutma cezas na arpt l yor Yani bu durumda Byungyeon, babas , abisi, karde i hep birlikte l m cezas na arpt r lm oluyor Byungyeon un babas onlar korumak i in k lesinin yan na evlatl k olarak veriyor Kendisi de ka p saklan yor Abi karde soylu birer beyzade iken 2 sene boyunca bir k lenin ocu uymu gibi s k nt i inde ya amak zorunda kal yorlar Daha sonra devlet, Kim ailesinden soy kurutma cezas n kald rsa da m r boyu hainin torunlar olarak an lmaya, hor g r lmeye devam ediyorlar Byungyeon da ailesine eski itibar n kazand rmak i in gen li inden itibaren kendisini okumaya, yazmaya, iire veriyor Yazar Byungyeon un hayat hikayesini anlat rken bu ya ad olaylar n iirine olan etkisini de tahlil ediyor A k as kitapta hayat n n anlat ld yerler daha ilgi ekici ve s r kleyiciyken tahlil yap lan k s mlar s k c yd Yani ger ekten air Kim Sakkat n hayat n merak ediyor olsam zevkle okuyabilirdim Ama tan mam etmem Pek bilinen bir eser de de il, nereden kt bunu okumak derseniz birka sene nce Yitik lke yay nlar ndan hediye olarak gelen kitaplar n i indeydi Ge enlerde elime ge ince bakt m koreceden eviriymi ba lad m 1800l y llar n Koresini, d nce tarz n anlamak a s ndan g zeldi Hatta ba lar dizi gibiydi diyebilirim Ama zellikle sonlara do ru s k ld m 24 ya ndan sonra ailesini olu unu ocu unu b rak p avare avare gezdi i, gisenglerle g n n g n etti i k s mlar ocukken ekti i s k nt lar sebebiyle aire kar olu an merhamet hislerimi silip s p rd Velhas l tavsiye edemiyorum ama merakl s severek okuyacakt r Yi Mun Yol s The Poet opens with a scene of startling power a mother from a noble Korean house keens as her four and six year old sons are sent away with a freed serf to hide them from the royal edict of execution against the entire family The boys destination is another serf emancipated so that he will hide them he scolds them in public to keep up the appearance of being the true father only to apologize to them afterwards The family s sin is to descend from a grandfather who has not onl Yi Mun Yol s The Poet opens with a scene of startling power a mother from a noble Korean house keens as her four and six year old sons are sent away with a freed serf to hide them from the royal edict of execution against the entire family The boys destination is another serf emancipated so that he will hide them he scolds them in public to keep up the appearance of being the true father only to apologize to them afterwards The family s sin is to descend from a grandfather who has not only surrendered his fortress to rebels but joined them Yi s novel is a fictional version of Kim Pyong yon, who in the nineteenth century spent his adult life wandering across the peninsula composing poetry Yi has a personal interest in this story of how someone creative responds to a family member who turns against the regime, since his own father, a Communist, defected to the North In Yi s version, rendered in unfussy prose at least in translation Kim abandons his own wife and children his wanderings take him to situations that force him to reassess the story of his grandfather that cost his family so much, the poetry that sustains him both physically and spiritually, his early, hedonism and his later solidarity with the working classes, even the nature of existence itself And yet neither Yi nor Kim in Yi s book addresses the glaring abandonment of his own family by someone who knows how devastating that can be A novel about the life of the early nineteenth century poet Kim Pyong yon, told as the speculations of a present day narrator The poet was the grandson of a traitor , Kim Ik s0n, who was executed for his support of a rebellion against the dynasty, and as a result was ostracized and excluded from the scholarly career he might have expected He ultimately rejected the conventions of society and became a wandering poet The novel is based on the facts of his life and his poetry, but at the same t A novel about the life of the early nineteenth century poet Kim Pyong yon, told as the speculations of a present day narrator The poet was the grandson of a traitor , Kim Ik s0n, who was executed for his support of a rebellion against the dynasty, and as a result was ostracized and excluded from the scholarly career he might have expected He ultimately rejected the conventions of society and became a wandering poet The novel is based on the facts of his life and his poetry, but at the same time it has a symbolic dimension, given the similar ostracism of many South Koreans including Yi Mun yol himself whose relatives supported the North Koreans in the Korean War While the novel was interesting with the discussion of the functions of poetry, the fact that I don t know Korean and have never read any of Kim Pyong yon s work meant that much of it was not really meaningful to me I was particularly disappointed in the ending when it veers into mysticism I really wanted to like the poet but I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted Slow to start, it never got very exciting for me I did not like their interpretation of the meaning of poetry as I found it rather convoluted and pretentious The character of the poet did not appeal to me and I was not able to sympathise with him. A book about this man s life I amimpressed by the man as a poet after reading the article than after reading the book It is odd that the book didn t include all of these linguistic games he was able to do it touches upon them, but just barely Anyway, taken together with that article, the book is quite interesting Half biography, half historical novel A book about this man s life I amimpressed by the man as a poet after reading the article than after reading the book It is odd that the book didn t include all of these linguistic games he was able to do it touches upon them, but just barely Anyway, taken together with that article, the book is quite interesting Half biography, half historical novel Ehh Interesting concept, and lots here about heritage and identity, but this writing style didn t do it for me, and the main character himself managed to always remain unsympathetic It also seemed like the author just assumed the audience would be interested in him and his story I can t even remember his name, it s only mentioned a handful of times which further contributes to this false sense of connection we re expected to have with the character Took me a while to finish because it put Ehh Interesting concept, and lots here about heritage and identity, but this writing style didn t do it for me, and the main character himself managed to always remain unsympathetic It also seemed like the author just assumed the audience would be interested in him and his story I can t even remember his name, it s only mentioned a handful of times which further contributes to this false sense of connection we re expected to have with the character Took me a while to finish because it put me to sleep every time I tried to read it lol Two stars because it became substantiallyinteresting towards the end, but never got around to any kind of compelling theme and I think it somehow managed to strip poetry of its meaning and power by making it solely the personal tool of a confused and selfish main character rather than any kind of meaningful construct How often it is in life that something looked forward to and hoped for turns out to be disappointing, and those things sprung upon us, or that we stumble across despite ourselves, are great experiences So it is with The Poet My wife, who has an artistic temperament, bought this book second hand because she liked the cover art Tiger by Song am and, through a mis communication I thought she had purchased it for me owing to its subject matter I never would have purchased or read the book if le How often it is in life that something looked forward to and hoped for turns out to be disappointing, and those things sprung upon us, or that we stumble across despite ourselves, are great experiences So it is with The Poet My wife, who has an artistic temperament, bought this book second hand because she liked the cover art Tiger by Song am and, through a mis communication I thought she had purchased it for me owing to its subject matter I never would have purchased or read the book if left to my own devices, and that would have been my loss The Poet is a fictional re telling of the life of Kim Sakkat, a wandering poet of the early nineteenth century in Korea Written in a dry, almost academic style, Yi Mun yol describes how Kim s grandfather aligns himself with a rebel force, and when he is captured and executed by the King, the rest of the family fall into exile and disgrace Kim Sakkat is unable to enter the civil service and, burdened by shame and bitterness at his fate, becomes a wandering poet Yi uses the bare bones of this story to write about betrayal, loyalty, fame, honour, wealth, truth and of course, poetry He does this by describing the development of Kim s poetry during his journey through life.Early on, before Kim realises that his attempts to re integrate into the upper classes are fruitless, he composes a prize winning poem condemning his grandfather s treachery Disgusted with himself for betraying his family, he begins his life as a wanderer It is at this stage that he has what turns out to be a pivotal meeting, with an old poet in the mountains Although Kim doesn t realise it at the time, the old poet explains to him the true meaning of poetry to be at one with the World, not to try and change it Kim thinks the old man a dreamer, and goes on his way.Yi describes the stages of Kim s poetry as stages in his life his earlier works written to try and impress the upper class milieu into which he would have liked to be accepted were technically perfect and traditional in structure and theme supporting the status quo Once he realises the pathway up the social classes is barred to him, Kim consciously sides with the lower classes, and begins to write works that are revolutionary in form incorporating Korean language with traditional Chinese characters for the first time and proletarian in content writing of work, drink and sex, with muchhumour than in his previous works.The final stage in his poetic journey begins after he meets the old poet again and realises that the old man was right after all Kim s final years and poems almost call nature into being as he recites they are poems of what is, rather than what could be, or what he d like to be It seems, after a life of bitterness, anger and regret that Kim will die happy.Like all good fiction, The Poet consists of many layers As the reader discovers in the prefatory material, Yi s father, a communist, defected from South Korea to the DPRK during the Korean War The Poet shows Yi not only working with themes that impact on him personally, but also looking at how society as a whole deals with betrayal and traitors As the book develops, Kim s knowledge of his grandfather s actions grows As a child, all he knew was that his grandfather was a traitor to the King, siding with a rebel force Later, during his travels, he meets an ex rebel, who describes how Kim s grandfather was trying to bring about change and a better world for those under rebel control Later still he meets someone else who questions that version of events Yi shows us that one needs to be careful in what one believes, as nothing is black and white, and no one person s motives are entirely pure.There is a strange section towards the end of the book where Kim becomes the poet for a band of revolutionary vagabonds, writing to instil bravery into the men, and revolutionary spirit into the locals His work becomes widely popular, but fails utterly to help the revolution words don t replace deeds in this case This seems to be the final step in the progression for Kim in realising that poetry and words do not get you things in the real world except maybe a meal or a drink here and there and it is best to write the poetry that resonates within oneself.The language in the book is spare, bald and matter of fact Yi, in dealing with a real life, has twisted the story to make it his own by writing in a pseudo academic style, correcting mistakes in the generally accepted life of Kim The short chapters each deal with a specific event, yet while we know some of Kim s deepest thoughts, he is still an elusive character when he finally walks out of the frame of the story in the last pages Yi s style, at least in this translation, reminds me of David Malouf s Ransom.Highly Recommended.Check out my other reviews at