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The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea

Translated with an Introduction and Annotations by JaHyun Kim Haboush
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 329
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  • Book Info
    The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong
    Book Description:

    Lady Hyegyong's memoirs, which recount the chilling murder of her husband by his father, is one of the best known and most popular classics of Korean literature. From 1795 until 1805 Lady Hyegyong composed this masterpiece, which depicts a court life whose drama and pathos is of Shakespearean proportions. Presented in its social, cultural, and historical contexts, this first complete English translation opens a door into a world teeming with conflicting passions, political intrigue, and the daily preoccupations of a deeply intelligent and articulate woman. JaHyun Kim Haboush's accurate, fluid translation captures the intimate and expressive voice of this consummate storyteller.The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyongis a unique exploration of Korean selfhood and of how the genre of autobiography fared in premodern times.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91628-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. [Illustration]
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-36)

    The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏngconsists of four autobiographical narratives written by Lady Hyegyŏng, an eighteenthcentury Korean noblewoman. She was born in 1735, a daughter of Hong Ponghan (1713–1778) of the illustrious P’ungsan Hong family. As a consequence of Korean custom of the period, her personal name remains unknown.¹ In 1744, she married Crown Prince Sado (1735–1762). They were both nine years old at the time, and consummation did not take place until five years later. On the day of consummation, Prince Sado was appointed prince-regent and assumed an official role in governing. However, his father, King Yŏngjo...

  6. Translator’s Note
    (pp. 37-38)
  7. Principal Persons
    (pp. 39-46)

    • The Memoir of 1795
      (pp. 49-136)

      From the time I came to the palace as a child,* each morning and evening I exchanged letters of greeting with my parents, and many of those letters should have remained with my family. However, upon my departure, my father† cautioned me, “It is not right that letters from the outside should be scattered about the palace. Nor would it be proper for you to write of anything at length aside from simple words of greeting. It would be best if, after reading the news from home, you wrote us on the same sheet of paper.” As he instructed, I...

    • The Memoir of 1801
      (pp. 137-196)

      Princess Hwap’yŏng was Lady Sŏnhŭi’s first daughter and His Majesty loved her above all his other children. Of a mild and kindly disposition, the Princess showed not the slightest trace of arrogance. Uncomfortable and distressed that she alone was showered with paternal affection while her brother, the Crown Prince, was not, the Princess pleaded ceaselessly with her father, “Please do not be like that.” Whenever the Prince was in dire straits, she could not rest, as if nothing else mattered to her until things improved for him. There were many occasions on which His Majesty’s anger was appeased through the...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • The Memoir of 1802
      (pp. 197-240)

      It has been almost sixty years since I came to the palace as a child. During that period, my life has been extremely turbulent; I have encountered countless adversities. In addition to that incomparably painful event, I have suffered such an endless succession of devastating trials and tribulations that it is not logical that I should have lived. I sustained my life because, given the fact that the late King served me with utmost filial devotion, I could not bear to end my life. Heaven detested me more as time passed, however, and I suffered that mly unbearable loss. It...

    • The Memoir of 1805
      (pp. 241-336)

      The tragedy of theimoyear (1762) is unparalleled. Early inpyŏngsin(1776) the late King [Chŏngjo], who was then still Crown Prince, sent a memorial to his grandfather, His Late Majesty King Yŏngjo, requesting the destruction of those portions of theRecords of the Royal Secretariat[pertaining to that incident]. Once royal permission was obtained, those sections were washed away. The late King did this in filial affection; he was mortified that just anyone could read descriptions of the event in an atmosphere quite devoid of respect or solemnity.

      Much time has elapsed. Those who know the details of...

  9. Appendix I: Genealogical Table of the Yi Royal House
    (pp. 338-339)
  10. Appendix 2: Genealogical Table of the Hong Family
    (pp. 340-341)
  11. Appendix 3: Genealogical Table of the Kyŏngju Kim Family
    (pp. 342-342)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 343-354)
  13. Glossary
    (pp. 355-362)
  14. Index
    (pp. 363-372)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 373-373)