Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Is this thing on??!!

Hey ladies...
I think it's about time I post something on our bookclub blog. I haven't been ignoring it; I just haven't had the time to say anything, or anything interesting to say at all... If you take a peep at my own blog you'll see that I haven't posted anything in AGES!!! Anyhoo... Here's a little something on what I'm reading at the moment: The Red Queen (Margaret Drabble). It's one of Maria's contributions, and I'm really enjoying it. For NOW...
Here's the story:
There really WAS a Red Queen called Lady Hyenyong who lived in the second half of the 18th century and was married to a seriously controversial prince. This Margaret Drabble chicky has taken this existing story, re-written it for the first part of the book and, then for the second half, gone on a bit of a creative wank writing how the ghost of the Red Queen chooses some chick from the present-day UK to retell her story... Or something like that. Here are some reviews of the first English version of the actual Lady Hyenyong memoirs:

"Undoubtedly, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, known as Hanjungnok (Records Written in Silence), are one of the most important and moving pieces of traditional Korean literature. Written as carefully crafted autobiographical records, the work is a rare historical document that vividly depicts the daily life at the Korean royal court in the second half of the eighteenth century. As such, it is a unique and historically invaluable insider's account. . . . Haboush must be congratulated for an exemplary annotated translation that preserves the tone and color of the original texts. In an excellent introduction, she informs the reader about the author, the period background, the literary genre of autobiography, and the textual history of manuscript. . . . Lady Hyegyong's extraordinary autobiographical accounts are an important literary and historical monument."–Korean Studies

"This authoritative edition . . . elucidates the intricate world of Korean court–its morass of age-old strictures, interfamilial rivalries, and just plain ill will–through which Lady Hyegyong had to navigate, both in her life and writing. . . . Part of what makes these memoirs so gripping is the threat of erasure, present from the start."–Voice Literary Supplement

"Lady Hyegyong writes of a life that none of us could have lived, yet her words and feelings are the same as those expressed and experienced by women in many time periods and many civilizations. However, many of things she writes about are not to be found in the contemporary world, and it is the juxtaposition of the familiar and the unfamiliar that makes her memoirs fascinating to the modern reader. . . . The translation by JaHyun Kim Haboush is fluid, and her wonderfully analytical introduction gives the reader useful background material, as well as insightful interpretation."–New Asian Pacific Review

Something tells me that reading the English translation of the original memoirs would be better. I'm enjoying this first half. I really hope ol' Drabble doesn't piss me off in the second half... Eish.


Kate said...

I also renjoyed the first half of the book and found it quite fascinating from a cultural historical perspective, although it was a bit of a challenge to keep going as there are NO chapter breaks, and I could never find a convenient place to put it down while I went on a coffee break.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to conquer the second half - started it, but was under pressure trying to review other books to bring in that month, and was worried it was going to turn into a self-indulgent, intellectual wank, as you so elloquently put it Carmen:)

So let me know what you thought of it, who knows maybe I'll take it out again in the future and do it the dignity of at least finishing it!

Carmen Gabriel said...

ag... what can i say?
i'm hanging in there, but the writing isn't great in the second half.
i'm just really determined to finish this one... so watch this space.