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

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegy ng The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth Century Korea 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 until Lady Hyegyong comp

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  • Title: The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea
  • Author: Lady Hyegyeong JaHyun Kim Haboush
  • ISBN: 9780520200555
  • Page: 390
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 comLady 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 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 Hyegyong is a unique exploration of Korean selfhood and of how the genre of autobiography fared in premodern times.

    One thought on “The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea”

    1. Chrysanthemums painted by King Jeongjo of Joseon (r. 1776-1800).This volume contains four separate writings from the decade of 1795-1805. Although the tone of these works varies wildly, they are all narratives of the Joseon royal court. Our author is only too familiar with this world, as she was forced into these labyrinths by marriage at the tender age of nine, and these writings date from her sixth decade. Such a setting is different for the average Western reader, not only from the feuds of a [...]

    2. I found this book absolutely fascinating. The first 3 sections are take 'em or leave 'em, but the 4th section where she actually describes her husband's decent into madness is incredible. Plus the cultural history that goes a long with it really makes it great. If you like historical writings and are interested in Korean court life or Confucian court life, this book would engage you.

    3. This is a properly remarkable book. It is, as the subtitle explains, ‘The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea’. Lady Hyegyŏng* was married into the royal family; she married Sado, the Crown Prince, when they were both nine years old. Sado never became king — he was executed in 1762 at the age of 27 — but their son inherited the throne as King Chŏngjo. Remarkably, Hyegyŏng outlived him as well, and three of these four ‘memoirs’ were wri [...]

    4. This is a tough book to get through. Try reading just the Introduction and the Memoir of 1805, if you're so inclined. It's a remarkable tragedy of 18th century Korean court life under the most impossible of situations written by woman's careful hand (a rare thing in pre-modern Asia). The Memoirs give "the facts" around the tragic life of Prince Sado, who appears to have suffered from an acute form of paranoia and schitzophrenia, and his wife, the Lady Hyegyong, who struggled daily to manage his [...]

    5. Lady Hyegyong was married to the infamous Prince Sado, a probable paranoid schizophrenic, who was eventually sentenced to death by his parents. Anyone interested in court intrigue and psychological character studies will find this book fascinating. Only I suggest reading it out of order, starting with the introduction and the first memoir then skipping to the fourth.

    6. When Prince Sado was born in 1725, the long-awaited sole heir to the Korean throne, no one was happier than his father, King Yeongjo. 27 years later, on a hot summer day, the King forced his only son into a rice chest in the middle of a courtyard and left him there, without food or water, until he died 8 days later. The memoirs of Prince Sado's wife, the Crown Princess Lady Hyegyong, explain why. Made up of 4 memoirs, each directed at a different group of people and written in 1795, 1801, 1802, [...]

    7. This book is a translation of a true accounting (memoirs) of a Korean court lady named Lady Hyegyong during the Choson dynasty in 1800. Lady Hyegyong recounted the harrowing events that befell her and her family for simply associating with the royal family. It is truly a sad recounting that fills your heart with rage and sorrow over what happened to her Ladyship and makes you ponder about the past in quite refreshing way. It is truly one of those books that puts in the narrators shoes and change [...]

    8. Was so excited when I got my copy. There are so many details in the book and I felt I was lost because I couldn't memorize all the names, but as everyone else said the last chapter was great and so sad. [ SPOILER] Still can't see any reason why his mom told on him and why his father chose this cruel ending to punish him. As I see in dramas royal family drink poison, but here Prince Sado faced a worse ending.

    9. Interesting to read the view of the Widow of Crown Prince/ Prince-Regent's Sado's wife, and his descent into madness, which eventually resulted in his death. A lot of Korean dramas portray the events much differently. While this is not a completely unbiased account, I think it is the closest to the truth we will ever have of this dark period in Joson (Choson) history. It also provides information about the ins and outs of the palace residence, and the King's court, with all its inherent dangers [...]

    10. This book was so interesting. It made these Korean royals from 200 years ago seem so human and so relatable.I can see why some people have said to only read the first and last memoirs. The middle two were fairly interesting, but incomparable to the last one. The Memoir of 1805 was just so fascinating, looking at the causes behind Prince Sado's illness and his slow decline. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone interested in Asian history or who just wants to read something really different [...]

    11. An elegant look into the life of a Korean princess in the 18th century. This is an autobiographical account of a lady who suffered great misfortune for most of her life. Her insight into court life, marriage based on confusionism, tragic loss of her beloved son, her brothers, and numerous members of her immediate family is very heartbreaking. It is an excellent book if you would like to get an insider’s view of royal life of an eighteenth century Korean princess!

    12. Astonishing account of one of the most turbulent and shocking periods in Korean history. Excellent scholarship. Essential.

    13. A great book to read in conjunction with The Memoirs of Lady Nijo and the Letters of the Nun Eshinni. A wonderful exploration of pre-modern East Asian court women's lives.

    14. In this edition, the memoirs have been separated into the 4 sets of writings as they were originally written. Haboush makes clear the different purposes for which each set of histories were intended, and does well in clarifying the political or cultural situations that may be assumed or not made clear by Lady Hyegyong. As someone interested in Korean culture, I found the texts fascinating, though there is plenty there to recommend itself even for one without any particular interest in the countr [...]

    15. This was an interesting read with a lot of historical value, and I learned about Korean court intrigue and politics (and also the history and culture of the Joseon dynasty in the 18th century). It is also one of the rare autobiographies written by a woman in the patriarchal Korean environment (or in the bigger Asian context, for that matter).Through the narration of Crown Princess Hyegyong, the widow of Crown Prince Sado, we are brought to gain a better understanding of the circumstances surroun [...]

    16. The memoirs had the potential to be a fascinating book. The essential story of her husband Prince Sado's fate is one of jaw-dropping barbarity. I was very interested in the description of the King's neglect of and cruelty towards the prince- to the extent of blaming natural disasters on him- and how this may have caused his descent into madness.The story is lamed by the narrator's intense Confucianism. Lady Hyegyong refuses to condemn any of her elders or relatives and worse, the reader is force [...]

    17. A fascinating book about a culture of which I know nothing. These are the memoirs of Lady Hong, the daughter of a high-ranking 18th century Korean courtier/politician, who was plucked from the obscurity and innocence of her childhood home and groomed to be the future Queen of Korea. All that came to an end, though, when her husband, the Crown Prince, went mad, and was suffocated by being locked in a grain cabinet. I really got the sense of this woman's pragmatism, and how she seemed to deal with [...]

    18. Since the first time I heard the story of Prince Sado and the existence of this book I wanted to read it. What an experience! Lady Hyegyong opens her heart in this memoir as much as she is allowed by the world she lives in and by her own pain and memories. Even though at first my reason to read the book was Prince Sado's crazy story, I became interested in all the details she had to tell. Given, the first and last memoirs are the more cant-stop-reading-it's-so-good ones but the whole book is wor [...]

    19. I am in awe. The Memoir of 1805 left me in tears. *****I do not want to even risk mentioning a spoiler here about Crown Prince Sado's life, but to me, who knows a lot about Korean history, especially the Joseon Dynasty, his story is one-of-a-kind. I will always be intrigued by it and by the reasons behind it and the consequences that followed. What made this book interesting is the fact that it was written by his wife, Crown Princess Hyegyong.All I can say is that she is one tough woman, and I h [...]

    20. A very interesting look at 18th century Korea from the view point of a former Crown Princess and the mother of a king. The translation is really readable, but the four memoirs do cover a lot of the same ground so reading all in one go can feel repetitive. The last memoir (1802) is the most interesting, as it deals exclusively with Prince Sado's escalating derangement and eventual execution. The first section is a good over view, and the middle two section go into more detail about her family's f [...]

    21. Surprisingly easy to read--not sure if I should credit the translator, the original writer (who wrote in a vernacular Korean when others were still using a formal Chinese for "important" writing) or a combination. The events of the Lady Hyegyong's life certainly lend credence to the claim that truth is stranger than fiction. There are four memoirs, all dealing with slightly different themes. I recommend reading all four but it is the final memoir that gives the story of her life with her husband [...]

    22. I'll admit that there were parts of this book that I struggled reading a bit. There were bits that seemed repetitive and things that I'm sure were just cultural that I had a hard time wrapping my head around. But the final writing, when she explains what happened to lead up to her husband's eventual execution, is one of the more heartbreaking and fascinating things I've ever read. What an remarkable woman to have endured so much and have been brave enough to write about it in ways that were very [...]

    23. Fascinating look inside the Korean court of the eighteenth century. The first three memoirs are full of details about life in the royal palaces, intrigues and plots, as well as Lady Hyegyong's personal and family tragedies. The fourth memoir is the most powerful, however, as Lady Hyegyong describes what has only been alluded to in the previous writings. In addition, this translation has none of the stiffness of some translated works. It reads as if it was originally in English, without feeling a [...]

    24. There were four memoirs, but I only read the first and last. The other stuff was little boring for me since I don't know a lot about the people and the history of that time. The introduction said it's a very well-known book in Korea. She was married to a prince who became mentally ill and was put to death in the late 1700s. I learned a new, cool word. Affine means related to you by family. There was lot about filial piety in this book, very Confucian.

    25. The story of the unfortunate wife of infamous crown prince Sado and the mother of Prince Yi San -King Jeongjo- (22nd ruler) of Joseon dynasty Korea. Lady Hyegyeong witnessed her husband's execution which was ordered by her father-in-law King Yeongjo of Joseon and later wrote the The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong detailing her life as the ill-fated Crown Princess, her husband's descent into madness and the deeds for which he was eventually put to death.

    26. Very important work of translation, offering a rare glimpse into 18th century court life in Korea from a female point of view. Haboush has done a great job in providing a translation accessible for a laymen, with illuminating footnotes and more in-depth end-notes, catering for more knowledgeable reader. A great book both for those interested in Korean culture and history and those interested in a compelling human drama.

    27. A very intriguing look at Korea and at Lady Hyegyong in particular. Her memoirs are important historical evidence but they are also an inside view of her psyche and how she interacted within her world. The introduction by the translator was also very informative and helped fill in some of the context that the author assumed you knew.

    28. Unbelievably depressing. This poor woman went through things I could not even have conceived of happening. The introduction is really long but very insightful and helps shed light on Korean customs and traditions. I learned a lot about Korea through this book. It was a really interesting and instructive read.

    29. This is a gut wrenching true story of mental illness with a tragic outcome. The Queen wrote this to clear up lies and misconceptions regarding the tragic death of her husband, who was the crown prince at the time. It is a terifying story of his descent into madness exacerbated by his Father, the King's own neurosis.

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