Showing posts from August, 2023

August Reading: Sprint to the End of Summer, part I

I've got some good reading going on!  Here are the two latest, including my WIT title. Summerbook #15: The Story of Hong Gildong :  This is a Korean classic of literature, and the author is unknown.  For a long time, Koreans were taught that this was the first story written in Hangul, the Korean script, and that it dated from the 17th century, but our translator argues that modern Korean scholarship has found that it dates from the late 19th century.  Anyway, Hong Gildong occupies approximately the same spot in Korean literature that Robin Hood does in English, that of a delightfully tricky noble robber who steals from rich and advocates for the poor, but Gildong has another dimension -- he rebels and argues against Korean laws that, back then, discriminated against illegitimate children.  Hong Gildong's father had a beautiful prophetic vision of having a brilliant son, but this son is born to a lowly concubine, and so despite his intelligence, prowess, and mastery of magic, he

CC Spin #34: First Love and Other Stories

 First Love and Other Stories, by Ivan Turgenev Wow, Turgenev sure could write.  Here we have short stories written over 20 years of his writing career.  Most of them illuminate a short episode and its meaning for a whole life, or a zeitgeist. "The Diary of a Superfluous Man" is the final diary of a dying man -- though he is only about 30, he has just days to live, and decides to set down the one significant thing that has ever happened to him, and in which he was utterly futile, as he believes his whole life to have been.  He got to know a local family, and fell in love with the daughter (age 17), but Liza never noticed him at all.  She fell instead for a visiting nobleman, and at the end of a romantic summer, he of course left without proposing.  Our narrator wanted to warn her, to help her, to marry her afterwards, but she never wanted any of his warnings or help and married another man. "Mumu" concerns a well-to-do widow living in St. Petersburg -- really, the h