The Roots of Culture

Kim Suyŏng’s Take Translation of Boris Pasternak

In: Journal of World Literature
Jung A Choi Kyung Hee University Republic of Korea Seoul

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Han Sung Kim Sookmyung Women’s University Republic of Korea Seoul

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Kim Suyŏng (1921–1968) is a Korean modernist poet whose works have been widely studied from the perspective of comparative and world literature. Yet, there is hardly any research on how his work is related to Russian literature. Given that he had little to no command of the Russian language, he used English translations to translate into Korean or comment on the Russian works selected for publication. His translations of Russian literature exhibit a consciousness of the characteristics of Russian literature, blended with Cold War English literature and post-colonial Korean literature. Referring to Pasternak’s poem “The Caucasus,” Kim noted that Pasternak’s journey in search of Russian roots was comparable to his pursuit of the “gigantic root” in post-colonial Korea. These two poets shared common ground in that both delved deep into tradition during the Cold War, when tradition was rejected as being reactionary.

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