Child’s Bone

20th Century Korean Literature

Book 14
Literature Translation Institute of Korea

“Child’s Bone” (1937), which is written in the stream of consciousness narrative style, skillfully depicts the love and affection between a woman named “Yim” and the two men in her life—Yun and the narrator. In order to rescue this common subject from its conventional treatment, he uses various techniques. The story is composed of six natural scenes, like that from a play, from which the narrator’s inner thoughts and feelings flow out. Thus, Yi Sang shows the reader the true condition of the psychological novel.

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About the author

 Yi Sang (1910-1937) was one of Korea’s most innovative writers of modern literature, enough to deem him Korea’s finest modernist. He died at the early age of 27, but despite his short literary career, he produced surreal and highly experimental pieces that were avant-garde and far ahead of their time. He showed brilliant literary prowess not only in poetry and fiction, but also in essays, exploring the confusion and anxiety of those living under Japanese colonial rule, the psychology and despair of uprooted urban dwellers, and the alienation, disquiet, and terror experienced by intellectuals, more than perhaps any other writer in Korean history. He did not shy away from presenting decadent subject matter, and experimented ceaselessly with form, created self-deprecating characters with excessive self-consciousness, portrayed the delirium of sensation, and employed wit, paradox, montage, and other various techniques all to brilliant, enigmatic effect, to the extent that his works resist easy comprehension even to this day. These are the reasons why he was heralded as a “modern boy,” who sprung onto the literary scene during Korea’s dark colonial period.

Yi Sang’s fiction is largely autobiographical. From his sole novel December 12 all the way to his short story “Dying Words,” Yi Sang has used his own life as material. However through his unique method of processing those experiences, in other words, through his unique artistic method of handling language, his work continues to be cutting-edge even today.

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4 total

Additional Information

Literature Translation Institute of Korea
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Published on
Dec 11, 2013
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Fiction / General
Literary Collections / Asian / General
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