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This article examines the remarkable success of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s last novel, Resurrection (1899), in early colonial Korea of the 1910s. In answering the main question of the significance of Resurrection in Korea’s colonial modernity, I argue that it is necessary to consider the interplay of the elite and popular receptions of Tolstoy’s novel, as well as to place the various Korean versions of Resurrection within the broader context of early colonial rule, the development of modern colonial media and mass culture, the specificities of the cultural terrain of the 1910s, and intellectuals’ search for a modern national literature. Resurrection was introduced in Korea at a critical early period when various narrative forms and cultural media coexisted and vied with each other for influence, and when—prior to the appearance of Yi Kwangsu’s Mujŏng—literature was far from enjoying a privileged place in modern Korean culture. As such, an examination of its reception can provide important insights into the dynamics governing the emergence of the modern novel at the dawn of the colonial period in its interaction with popular culture and modern media.
Journal of Korean Studies – Duke University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2019
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