[KS] Early French publications of Korean texts

Brother Anthony ansonjae at sogang.ac.kr
Tue Dec 2 21:30:21 EST 2014

Thanks to Frank for his good comments. The Gallica site is indeed remarkable and my texts of "Le Bois Sec Refleuri" and the text by Regamey from T'oung Pao are both from there (credit for the source is given at the top of each page).

Frank mentions Maurice Courant but I see no link between him and Hong. "Printemps Parfume" was published in 1892 as being "by" J.-H. Rosny and in my email to this List on November 5 2013 I confused this name with that of Louis Léon Prunol de Rosny. In actual fact J.-H. Rosny is the pseudonym of 2 brothers from Belgium, Joseph Henri Honoré Boex (1856–1940) and Séraphin Justin François Boex (1859–1948), who are in themselves of great interest to scholars of science-fiction and fantasy literature. They have their own specialized web site at http://jhrosny.overblog.com/  I am not clear how they met up with Hong, but there is an article from 1894 where J.-H. Rosny writes about "Hong-Tjyong-Ou, le traducteur – en collaboration avec nous – de Printemps parfumé." 

As Frank notes, it is amazing that the Musee Guiment should have published "Le Bois Sec Refleuri" in 1895 after Hong had not only left France but had become notorious as an "assassin" and also that they stress that the text is entirely his work: L'auteur de cette traduction, M. Hong-Tjyong-Ou, (...) s'est appliqué à en rendre scrupuleusement, presque mot à mot, le style et la naïveté, et les éditeurs n'ont eu garde de corriger son oeuvre afin de lui laisser toute sa saveur exotique et primitive. (The author of this translation has taken great care to reproduce scrupulously, almost word-for-word, the style and the naivety, and the editors have avoided correcting his work in order to leave it all its exotic, primitive savor). I fail to understand how Hong could have mastered such a refined French literary style so quickly!

Then the Museum also published in 1897 the astrological handbook Guide pour rendre propice l'étoile, adding the name of "Henri Chevalier" to that of Hong and I cannot but I wonder who he was, and how in 1899 he came to publish an article about Korean hats based on the collections in the Musee Guimet. https://archive.org/stream/internationalesa12inte#page/n259/mode/2up a year after publishing on Chinese hats.

Most important, like Frank I hope that someone widely read in late Joseon fiction can indicate possible sources for the two literary textsthat Hong translated.

Brother Anthony

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