Poems and Stories for Overcoming Idleness: P’ahan chip by Yi Illo
- About the Book
Poems and Stories for Overcoming Idleness is the first complete translation in any Western language of P’ahan chip, the earliest Korean work of sihwa (C. shihua; “remarks on poetry”) and one of the oldest extant Korean sources. The collection was written and compiled by Yi Illo (1152–1220) during the mid-Koryǒ dynasty (918–1392). P’ahan chip features poetry composed in Literary Chinese (the scriptura franca of the premodern East Asian “Sinographic Sphere”) by the author and his friends, which included such literary greats as Im Ch’un (dates unknown) and O Sejae (1133–?). P’ahan chip also contains the work of other writers of diverse backgrounds: Chinese master poets, famous Confucian literati, eminent Buddhist masters, erudite Daoist hermits, Koryŏ kings—as well as long-forgotten lower-level officials, unemployed intellectuals, and rural scholars. The verse compositions are embedded in short narratives by Yi that provide context for the poems. In accordance with the guidelines of the sihwa-genre, these narratives focus primarily on matters relating to poetry while touching on a wide array of subjects such as Korean history and customs; the court and government institutions; official procedures and festivals; Koryǒ foreign-policy and diplomacy; books and the circulation of knowledge; calligraphy and painting; Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist thought; the role of women; and scenic spots and famous buildings.
The book opens with an extensive introduction by translator Dennis Wuerthner on Yi Illo and P’ahan chip set against the backdrop of literary and historical developments in Korea and sino-centric East Asia and vital issues relating to Koryŏ politics, society, and culture. Wuerthner’s comprehensive, thought-provoking study is followed by a copiously annotated translation of this important Korean classic.
- About the Author(s)
Dennis Wuerthner, TranslatorDennis Wuerthner is assistant professor of East Asian literature in the Department of World Languages and Literatures, Boston University.
Robert E. Buswell, Jr., Series EditorRobert E. Buswell, Jr. holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is also Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and founding director of the university’s Center for Buddhist Studies and Center for Korean Studies.