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A Novel of Nineteenth-Century Korea

Moo-sook Hahn

Publication Year: 1992

This historical novel, Encounter (Mannam), by Hahn Moo-Sook, one of Asia's most honored writers, is a story of the resilience in the Korean spirit. It is told through the experiences of Tasan, a high-ranking official and foremost Neo-Confucian scholar at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Because of Tasan's fascination with Western learning, then synonymous with Catholicism, he is exiled to a remote province for 18 years. In banishment he meets people from various social and religious backgrounds—Buddhist monks, peasants, shamans—whom he would not otherwise have met. The events of Tasan's life are effectively used to depict the confluence of Buddhist, Neo-Confucian, Taoist, and shamanistic beliefs in traditional Korea.

A subplot involves three young sisters, the daughters of a prominent Catholic aristocrat, and affords the reader vivid glimpses into Yi-dynasty women's lives, particularly those of palace ladies, scholars' wives, tavern keepers, shamans, and slaves. In contrast to the long-held Confucian stereotype of female subservience, this story illustrates the richness of women's contribution to Korean culture and tradition.

Encounter's detailed narrative provides a broad and informed view of nineteenth-century Korea, making it a highly useful book for courses on Korean literature and society. It will also be an engaging read for lovers of historical fiction.

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Voices from Asia


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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Foreword: Saints, Sages, and the Novelist's Art

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pp. vii-xx

Hahn Moo-Sook is a writer with a formidable reputation. She made her debut as an author in 1942 with the prize-winning novel Tŭngbul tŭnŭn yŏin (A Woman with a Lantern) and has been a prominent presence in Korean literary circles ever since. ...

Principal Characters in Encounter

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pp. xxi-xxiv

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1. "Admonition on the Transitory"

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pp. 1-52

Ha-sang arrived six days after Monk Hyejang had been cremated. Although Tasan was not unaware of this Buddhist practice, actually to witness the ritual for his friend Hyejang from the beginning to the end—first the placing of the body in the coffin, then the incineration, and finally the scattering of the ashes—was unbearably painful. ...

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2. Betrayal

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pp. 53-80

Using the excuse of a sprained ankle, Francesco Kim had spent three days in a corner room of an inn, waiting anxiously for the Kwon household servant's arrival from Ŭnjin. Apprehension had parched his lips and sunk his eyes deep into their sockets, making him appear to be suffering from more than a mere sprained ankle. ...

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3. Partings

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pp. 81-104

The mineral-water spring was some forty paces away from the thatched cottage where Tasan lectured. A narrow mountain path led farther down to his residence, the eastern apartment. An early riser, each morning he slowly climbed to the spring. With a small gourd he scooped the water from the spring and drank the cold and delicious water, ...

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4. Shaman's Daughter

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pp. 105-126

The squalid, weather-beaten inn was packed with travelers who filled the grimy tavern-room, the community guest room, and the kitchen; even the storage shed was occupied. But the commotion did not rise among the travelers who had come in from the downpour. ...

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5. True Principles of Catholicism

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pp. 127-154

As Ha-sang sat apart in a corner of the room and watched the elders respectfully hovering over the epistles, reading them with the deepest emotion, he found himself feeling ashamed and forsaken. Even while he was carrying the letters, he was unable to comprehend a single word of them; then as now, his ignorance pained him. ...

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6. Sowing

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pp. 155-176

"Please, have mercy. You can't take that, too. Without it, the children can't survive the winter." Old Sin's entreaty was mixed with sobs. ...

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7. Pondering

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pp. 177-210

As the nutmeg forest on the slope of the mountains began to come into sight, Tasan could hear the tumultuous music of folk instruments. Even from this distance, he could already feel the village air thick with an eerie intoxication. Although he was still too far away to distinguish the incantation, he knew a shaman rite must be in progress. ...

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8. The Winter Solstice Mission: Journey to Peking

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pp. 211-248

More than a month after they had left Seoul on October 24, the day of the river crossing finally arrived. The mission had been staying in Ŭiju for about ten days, busying themselves with many necessary details before they began the journey for entering Peking. They carefully examined the royal tribute to the Chinese court, ...

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9. Embrace

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pp. 249-282

Teresa Kwŏn was the youngest daughter of Kwŏn Il-sin, Francesco Xavier, who was one of the first Catholics in Korea. Her mother had died when she was only six years old. A renowned Sirhak scholar and a devout Christian, her father had been banished to Cheju Island in 1791. However, Francesco was a filial son. ...

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10. Encounter

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pp. 283-325

Two ritual tables for the household gods stood in the main hall of the house, the smaller one set with a white porcelain wine cup filled with unrefined wine and a couple of dried whitings as the only offerings, the larger one still bare. On a straw mat in front of the table, the shaman Man-nyŏn sat with Butterfly, luminous in her white costume. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780520911086
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520073814

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: Voices from Asia
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OCLC Number: 44954430
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Encounter

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Subject Headings

  • Chŏng, Yag-yong, 1762-1836 -- Fiction.
  • Chŏng, Ha-sang, 1795-1839 -- Fiction.
  • Korea -- Fiction.
  • Historical fiction. -- gsafd.
  • Biographicalfiction. -- gsafd.
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