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"The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng"

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message 1: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3620 comments The introductory material describes the four-part Korean memoir set in the eighteenth century. The female author Crown Princess Lady Hyegyŏng lived in the late Chosŏn (1392-1910). She composed these memoirs in the Korean vernacular han'gŭl rather than in literary Chinese. They portray the aftermath of a filicide between her father-in-law and his son and her spouse Prince Sado.

Her method diverges from the traditional memorial, which limited itself to the public service of the character. She incorporates 'emotional and personal' details. Her approach makes a truer historical document in exposing to public view the flawed actions and personalities among the royal family. She also introduces 'self-narration' to justify her choices after the tragedy. A quote states, "she searched for [...] some understanding that would explain the vagaries of human fate and the waywardness of the moral order."


message 2: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3620 comments These four memoirs of court life across a decade in eighteenth-century Korea by Lady Hyegyong has an introduction, which explains her reasons for writing them and for whom and other topics. Presumably, she's trying to restore a moral order after regularities seemed broken. She breaks the "silence" about politics and personal interactions to explore the actors' situations and to curtail gossip with eye-witness to the extent that she knows details. She also humbly asserts, however, that some things such as inside a human mind she cannot verify. By telling the truth as she observed, she sets out to restore the "honor" of her relatives in the Hong family and of her choice to live after her spouse's death. Simultaneously, she doesn't want to judge anyone.


message 3: by James (new)

James F | 124 comments My review:

An early Korean classic, this book actually consists of four separate memoirs. At the beginning of last month, I read another classic work, Queen Inhyun, about a conflict in the Korean Chosun dynasty; these memoirs deal with the next three generations, the reigns of King Yŏngjo, who killed his son Crown Prince Sado, of Sado's son, King Chŏnjo, and the early years of Chŏnjo's son, King Sunjo. The author of the memoirs, Lady Hyegyŏng, was the widow of Prince Sado and the mother of King Chŏnjo. The collective impression of the four memoirs is that the family conflicts of this absolute monarchy were similar to those of the Ptolemies in ancient Egypt or some of the Roman emperors; they make the British monarchy of Richard III or Henry VIII look modern by comparison. The theme of all four is that Lady Hyegyŏng's father and brothers were upright, virtuous servants of the monarchy who were undone by the constant plotting of a variety of other royal families (the list of villains changes in each of the four books, which are hardly consistent among themselves); I suspect that in fact they were probably up to their necks in conspiracies as well. Underlying the family disputes is a factional political struggle between the Norons and Sorons which is never really explained, but which a modern historian would probably see as the key to the events.


message 4: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3620 comments Review dated today, March 11, 2019, from the website dramasROK includes some film titles for the historical characters and identifies the four parts of this memoir.


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