Occidental literature on korea



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OCCIDENTAL LITERATURE ON KOREA
H. H. Underwood, Ph. D.

Almost two years ago at a meeting of the Council of this Society, our President, Bishop Trollope, suggested that I undertake the preparation of a bibliography of occidental works on Korea.

I strongly suspect that he knew what he was proposing but I can assure you that I did not In this state of blissful ignorance I light-heartedly began a task which has occupied a large share of my leisure time ever since. It is now finished (I cannot say completed) and the society has asked me to present in less tiring form some of the results of the work. I am inclined to fear that there is at once too little and too much material for such a popular presentation. However in obedience to the orders of the Council I have brought together such material as seemed might be of interest to you.

It would probably not be amiss to state, by way of intro-duction and apology, some of the difficulties encountered, with a few words as to the method followed. The chief difficulties naturally lay in the lack of any previous work of this type and in the lack of the materials for such a study which would be available in other countries. No “Poole’s Index,” “Reader’s Guide,” or other classification of periodical literature is available in Korea nor are there any number of bibliographies and catalogues on allied subjects which may be consulted. This last statement must be qualified to a certain extent but is none the less only too true. Last, but not least, was the fact that I had had no experience in such work and had to go through a process of trial and error learning with the errors strongly in the majority.



As to method, it finally came down to a rather laborious though sometimes interesting first hand inspection of all available material. My own collection of Koreana, the Landis Library and the Library of this Society were thus inspected [page 2] not only volume by volume but often page by page . To give an illustration, Dallet’s “L’Eglise de Coree” has no bibliography but I found that titles of books are often given in foot notes. I therefore proceeded to go through the two volumes page by page and harvested four or five titles for my pains. Again, Wenckstern’s Bibliography of Japan does not give a separate classification for Korea and it was therefore necessary to inspect almost every page of the two volumes line by line. After several page s of scientific articles having no reference to Korea it is very easy to miss “Umbiliferai Koreae Uchiyamane” when it suddenly appears ; or, for instance, you pass the title “Contributions to the flora of Japan” as not concerning Korea and then you may or may not notice in still finer print on the next line the words “contains a list of carex specurum collected in Japan and Korea.” I found, as proof readers have found, that it was safer to read backwards but this does not add to speed of the work. Still again, it was often necessary to do the same thing with certain periodicals or proceedings due to their lack of proper indices, or faulty arrangement. The same was true of book catalogues of which I inspected a large number. While one was fairly certain not to find titles dealing with Korea under “Egypt” there yet remained a large number of headings under any one of which material on Korea might lurk concealed. Thus “Central Asia,” “Tibet,” “Art,” “Anthropology,” “Oriental Literature” and other headings all contributed to our list, but only after search. In addition to such search I wrote to a number of individuals asking for lists of books on special subjects and received in the main very kind co-operation. Among those to whom I am thus indebted were M. Hefftler who furnished me with a list of Russian Books, Rev. A. A. Pieters who kindly translated another list of Russian titles from Nachod’s Bibliography, Mgr. Byrne of the American Catholic Mission who gave me a list of Roman Catholic works on Korea, Mr. Tigges German Consul General who gave me the beginning of my list of German works, Dr. Ludlow who furnished me with a complete list of all the Severance Research Papers [page 3] and Mrs. R. K. Smith of Chairyung who sent me the largest list of books and periodical literature which I received. A number of others also sent me titles or otherwise assisted. While I am dealing with the way in which the work was done I would like to acknowledge especially the great assistance given me by Miss Lillian Arnold in the typing. She spent many hours at this work, which was peculiarly annoying and difficult, on account of the varying languages, handwriting and other details. I also asked my friend Dr. S. J. Chey then in New York to make a study of the different guides to periodical literature and send me what he found on Korea. The result was the addition of several hundred titles to the list Each title was copied on to a card and then classified by subjects and arranged in chronological order for later typing. I unfortunately did not come to the card system till I had wasted a good deal of time and labor in typing and re-typing lists.

I mention these difficulties, not to magnify the task, but by way of apology and with the hope that you may be lenient in your criticisms if you find (as you almost certainly will) omissions which might otherwise seem inexcusable.

Leaving these troubles behind us, let us turn to the Bibli-ography and let me state its aims and something of its plan and scope. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Bibliography as “the art of examination and description of books, and their enumeration and classification in lists for purposes of information.” It is obvious that the type, form and plan of any bibliography will depend chiefly, 1st, upon the kind of information it is desired to impart and, 2nd, on the fullness and detail in which it is desirable or necessary to give this information. The second is of course largely determined by the first. From the book collectors point of view one should provide “a standard description of a perfect copy of every book as it is first issued and of all variant issues and editions.” I will say at once that I did not have the ability, facilities or the desire to deal with details of title page , colophon, odd issues, misprints and such like technical differences.

As I understood the desires of this Society, its object was [page 4] to provide in accesible form a list, as nearly complete as possible of the books and articles on Korea. The chief uses of such a list being three : 1. To show the development and present status of Occidental literature on Korea. 2. To thereby show what might be the chief omissions and shortcom-ings in this literature, and 3rd, through some convenient form of classification to make it easily accesible to those who might wish to use it. It should be remembered in this connection that the above objects, with the exception of the third, differ widely from that of a subject index. Valuable as such an index for Korea would be, the present work is distinctly a bibliography and not an index. Having in view the aims just stated the chronolgical system of arrangement was adopted. This was modified to the extent that the list is divided into fourteen main heads and twenty-seven subdivisions.

While the alphabetical arrangement makes it easier to find the author or subject with which you are already acquainted it is of little or no help in the discovery of materials available or in demonstrating the completeness with which the field has been covered. The chronological arrangement also in most cases assists in the search for the desired material and to a certain extent evaluates and describes the titles so listed. Thus an article entitled the “Present Crisis in Korea” is at once explained by its date whether that date be 1895, 1900 or 1919. Similarly of scientific articles, the student who finds that nothing has been written on his subject during the past decade is already in possession of a large part of the information for which he is seeking.

The skeleton at the feast, the nigger in the wood pile, call it what you will, is of course the way in which the classification under subjects is done. Our points of view and ways of approach are so different that it is not too much to say that there is no satisfactory method of classification. Thus with Mr. Koons’ valuable article on “Korean Beacons’—shall it be listed under history which it undoubtedly is? under Monuments which they are? Ethnology, as in some bibliographies or under some other heading? I have placed it under Monu- [page 5] ments. Doubtless some of you are saying at this moment “How ridiculous, anyone can see that that is History and nothing else.” This is a problem even when the bibliographer is fully acquainted with the contents but unless you had read it, where would you list Mrs. Tisdale’s “Jumping Chicken on the Yalu?” In this Zoology, Athletics, or Geography? “Journeys in Korea” by Koto is not Travel and Description as you and I might easily suppose but Geology! Is an early article on the “Mine fields of Korea” geological or commercial? I do not yet know. Again I plead for leniency if my classification is not “what it ought to be.”

A word as to the scope of the work. So far as possible I have included all published works on Korea in Occidental languages from the earliest down to today. That there are many omissions due to the circumstances of the work I am sure, but such omissions are due to lack of information, not to discrimination. I have included no titles where I did not have what appeared to be trustworthy information as to their connection with Korea. Thus a large number of articles on the Russo-Japan war have been omitted for lack of such information though I was “morally certain” that they must at least touch on Korea. Of course my information may not have always been correct but I think you will not find many such errors.

It may be claimed that I have cumbered the work with unessential material in an attempt at an impossible ideal of completeness. But I know no criteria of discrimination which I would dare to apply. Do you suggest quantity or volume? The three or four brief references to Korea in Piggott’s “Music and Musical Instruments of the Japanese” are of more value than a whole volume of misinformation from some globe-trotting tourist Do you suggest the elimation of periodical literature? But a great deal of the best work on Korea has appeared only in this form? Ephemeral pamphlets certainly might be omitted, you say? Yet Mr. Ohlinger’s List of Residents in Korea in 1895 with their Chinese names” s of both interest and value. I have therefore included [page 6] everything that came to my hand. Practically, I have seldom included the brief notices of the daily press, nor have I made any effort to find and list books having less than a chapter or at least a number of page s devoted to Korea. I am aware that my nationality, my occupation and my religion tend to throw certain titles in my way and to hide others from my view. But I saw no reason for omitting all Russian literature merely because I knew I could not include all, or for neglecting such periodical literature as I had because I knew there to be a large amount which I did not have. To aid those who may wish to consult these works I have attempted to indicate by the letters L. U. and RAS. whether the book is to be found in the Landis, Underwood or R. A. S. Library. So much then for the plan and scope.

Let us now look for a few minutes at the list as it now stands. It comprises in all a little over 2,800 titles. I do not wish to trouble you with a lengthy numerical statement, with percentages and tables and the like but the number of titles under each heading of the bibliography will give you a relatively good idea of the material in the different fields. To aid in this I have arranged the list in the order of frequency, not the order of bibliography, with the exception of the first division where I consider that age gives priority. This section called “Early works up to 1880” includes 152 titles.

I may say before reading the list that my experience thus far leads me to believe that while in each case it is probable that many more titles might be added I doubt if the proportion between them would be greatly affected by further increases. The headings and number of titles under each are then as follows:


Early Works to 1880 152

1. Protestant Missions, General ............................. 375

2. Political Questions 342

3. Travel and Description 289

4. History 202

5. Commerce and Industries 201

6. Social Conditions and Customs .......................... 175 [page 7]

7. Literature (Translations and Articles on Lit).................. 127

8. Protestant Medical Missions ......................................... 124

9. Medical Studies ............................................................. 121

10. Protestant Educational Work ....................................... 81

11. Korean Religions and Superstitions ............................. 70

12. Treaties, Laws, International Law, etc. ......................... 70

13. Etymology, Philology, etc. ............................................ 62

14. Roman Catholic Missions ........................................... 55

15. Missions and Politics .................................................. 54

16. Botany ........................................................................ 50

17. Biography, Catholic and Protestant ........................... 43

18. Monuments and Antiquities .......................................... 37

19. Fiction and Poetry ........................................................ 35

20. Art, General and Pictorial ............................................. 35

21. Word Lists and Dictionaries ..................................... 25

22. Geology...................................................................... 23

23. Zoology ....... 23

24. Grammars and Language Helps ................................... 18

25. Ceramics ....................................................................... 17

26. Coins, and Amulets ....................................................... 12

27. Bibliographies ............................................................... 7

28. Music ......................................................................... 7

29. Art, Miscellaneous...................................................... 6

Total ...... 2,842
Analysed from a Language point of view we find works in English, French, German, Russian, Latin, Italian, Dutch and Swedish in that order of frequency. The numbers in each of these languages is as follows :

1. English 2,325

2. French 205

3. German 186

4. Russian 56

5. Latin 38

6. Italian 15

7. Dutch 9

8. Swedish 8

Total 2,842

[page 8]

Here again the number of titles may easily be greatly increased by study under more fortunate circumstances. The actual numbers given will probably be slightly changed before. publication as I still have a few to add here or there.

I would not have you think that the preparation of a bibliography is unrelieved monotony and labor. It is comparable to working in an old library. In this case Bishop Trollope graciously gave me the privilege of doing just this in Landis Library and it was a treat and a privilege to go through that fine collection of Korean a. Even where only the titles are available there is an interest in coming unexpectedly on some valuable book or literary oddity as you browse through the lists. Book after book dry-as-dust is taken from its kindred dust listed and restored, so shelf after shelf, or page after page and then suddenly you come across a “find” a treasure. Work stops while you peer into its page s and wonder about the long-gone writer and his sources. You must indeed be a cold blooded sort of individual if the titles do not stir your imagination. Thus with the first three numbers on our list Letters they are, from Father Pierre Gomez in Japan to Claude Acquavira, General of the Company of Jesus. The first is dated March of 1593 and the next mail was in 1594 ! They were published in Milan in 1597. (Incidentally Mr. Whittemore tells me that he has the offer of a copy of this for 9 2,500 if any of you are interested in acquiring it!) Doubtless these letters contain extracts or copies of letters from Gregory Cespedes who came to Korea as chaplain of the Japanese Christian soldiers under the Christian General Konishi in 1592. But what did Cespedes see and say? Why were his reports so buried that 70 years later Hamel’s account was hailed as the first? Are these letters the basis of an article recently published in French on the “Priority due to the Spanish in the Discovery of Korea” ? Possibly, but I always supposed that Cespedes was a Portuguese and if so to whom does this article refer ?

Nos. 4 and 5 bring us round to that great lover of stories Haklyut, and through him to Sir Francis Drake and an [page 9] account added to his own, of the “Mighty Kingdom of Coray lately invaded by Quabacondono,” etc., etc.

Then comes an old friend, Hendrich Hamel van Gorcum, late of Amsterdam and later of New Amsterdam. His famous “travelogue” was made available to us all through the reprint issued by this Society. But no one has yet solved its problems. What happened to Wettervree whom Hamel found and left in Korea? Where are the descendants of those who did not escape, and where are they themselves buried? What is the Korean side of the story or were they beneath Korean notice?

In the same volume of our Transactions in which Hamel’s account was published our President has already referred to No. 9 with its pretty story of the little Korean slaves bought by the kind-hearted Italian ; two of them he released in Goa. You may remember that the third begged to stay with him, and returned with him to Rome where he lived under the name of Antonio Corea. Did he marry and are his descendants loyal black-shirts, or what is the end of the story. As the children say “And then what ?

Soon after this book came Du Halde’s two books on China with their stories of Korea gathered from Father Regis in Peking.

And so it goes : La Perouse, the famous French navigator, touched the coast of Korea in 1796 ; Broughton in H. M. Sloop “Providence” stayed long enough to name a bay and take away a short vocabulary of Korean words. Then Capt. Basil Hall with whom most of us are familiar, probably the first white man to visit the bay whose shores are now visited each summer by those who go to Sorai Beach.

A little further down the list here is Le Chevalier Sar- landiers, doctor of medicine with a medical treatise on the curative methods of China, Japan and Corea in 1825! One cannot help but wonder how much the Learned Doctor really knew about Korea. In the next ten or fifteen years come a number of names, Klaproth, von Siebold and Gutzlaff. Inci-dentally, Gutzlaff, the first Protestant missionary to visit Korea, [page 10] was the uncle and teacher of a young boy who came out in the China service and later as Sir Harry Parkes negotiated Gt. Britain’s treaty with Korea. In 1842 the Baron de Chaudoir published in St. Petersburg a “Study of the money of China, Japan and Korea” setting an example followed later by Mr. Ichibara’s paper on the Coinage of Corea, Vol IV, Pt. II. of this Society’s Transactions, a field which is by no means exhausted even yet.

From the middle of the century the titles come thick and fast, Leon de Rosny contributes a number of articles on the language, history and ethnography of Korea. Then here’s E. S. Cheval, another doctor with what seems first like another tall story. (I begin to suspect these medical men!) This is “Medical account of travels in Japan, China and Corea.” But maybe, he was a surgeon on one of the ships of the French expedition and it is true enough. Here (No. 107) is a Russian-Korean Dictionary published in 1874. Now we begin to hear familiar names, Griffis, Aston, Satow and Dallet. Korea even inspired a story “A Summer Dream of (No. 126) published in Shanghai in 1878. I would like to look up the files of the magazine and see what the anonymous writer dreamed about Korea! A year later we have another dream though not so entitled―McLeod’s “Korea and the Lost Ten Tribes!” Now the Koreans are really discovered! A little further and we get still more familiar names, Hulbert, Ohlinger, Jones, Appenzeller and others. With these I will not trouble you though I sometimes wonder if these and other “well-known “ writers are as well known as they deserve to be.

In 1894 comes Courant’s monumental “Bibliographic Coreenne” which you all ought to know. It is in many ways the greatest single work on any phase of Korean life yet made by an Occidental. In the next year, 1895, we have Hong-Tjong-Ou’s “Le Bois Sec Refleuri.” So far as I can ascertain this is the first Korean work done into a foreign language by a Korean. Those of you who do not read French will be glad to know that this story was “borrowed” by an [page 11] American and done into English under the title “Winning Buddha’s Smile”. The ethics of the borrowing are not for us to question.

A few more titles and references of interest and I am done. In the history section for 1882 you will find that the Haklyut Society published the Diary of Richard Cox who came to Korea early in the 17th century to try and establish a trading station. Later in the same section you will find an American, Admiral Schley for America, and an Englishman, Sir Harry Parkes, for Gt Britain contributing interesting side lights on Korea.

Under the heading of “Treaties” I have a title which puzzles me. “Recommendation re a Treaty with Korea” Congressional Globe Vol. XIV pp. 294—1845. Who was the far-sighted individual who made such a recommendation in 1845, and what is or was the Congressional Globe?

When we come to the section of “Political Questions” we find every traveller who has viewed the coasts from a steamer, a self constituted authority on the rights and wrongs of the political problems and the underlying ethnic characteristics of the people. An American “painless dentist” is one of these “authorities.” Others are Kennan, Poulteney Bigelow, and a band whose name is “Legion.” It may be that the scriptural story of the headlong dash of the swine into the sea is intended to show the way in which some people rush into print. There is certainly strong evidence in favor of the theory. One of the first such authorities was the grave robber, Oppert, whose book was translated into several languages. Most recent of all I understand that Mr. Drake has sufficiently recovered from his last days in Seoul to take a two handed (may I say!) “wallop”, at both Japanese and Koreans. I am told that he has discovered that the Koreans are too low in the human scale to be raised at all and the Japanese are arrant fools for a number of reasons, among them being their idiotic attempt to do anything for Korea. These and similar statements, of course, will do great good! Travel books are almost as amusing as the judgments of [page 12] the above authorities but have the advantage of being entirely comic instead of having a background of hate and ill feeling. Many are the writers who have told the world that Koreans subsist entirely or chiefly on decayed fish, while even our good friend Roy Chapman Andrews states that the Korean national dish, kimchi, consists of fish which are piled on the beach till decayed and then eaten! A well known semi-scientific magazine once published a picture of a Han river boat (which could not live an hour in any sea) as a Japanese junk on the Inland Sea! One edition of a certain encyclopedia gave half a page to an account of “Fusan the capital of Korea!” When written to, they promised to investigate the matter and make the necessary correction if the facts warranted it. Perhaps the quaintest is appropriately entitled “Quaint Korea.” Here you may read of Korean alligators, crocodiles and elephants. You may learn of the ancestral fire in every Korean house which is never allowed to go out. The writer tells us that Korean paper is made from cotton, that Koreans only undress when they eat, that they eat no meat and that they gorge themselves on meat, that Koreans love and feed all snakes, that Korean tiles are brown and turn blue with age, that—well I will leave you to discover the rest. Almost every page has some surprise for the oldest resident I might go on much longer with oddities, queries and interesting or valuable titles on Korea but even your patience could hardly hold out much further and before I close I want to take you back for just a moment to the Bibliography and what it tells us. I will leave the analysis of the situation to you but wish to call your attention to some of the more startling gaps in the literature on Korea.

There is no title in the whole list dealing with Korean drama. I am quite aware that Korean drama never reached a very high stage of development but there was something of formal drama, a well-developed form of masque or popular drama very popular puppet shows as well. As this goes to press, Keijo University is bringing out a book in Japanese on Korean Drama. [page 13]

Allied to the drama is the dance and here again I find no study as yet produced. Travellers have given superficial descriptions of certain dances but that is all in a field which has taken a large share of literature and research in other lands.

Sister to both of these arts is Music. Even if this Society has the privilege of printing Father Eckardt’s paper on Korean music it will still be premature to write “finis” to the study of ancient Korean music.

There are only 114 titles in all the branches of art The recent spelndid book by Father Eckardt on Korean art is again rich in suggestions as to unexplored territory.

Turning from art you find commerce and industries, with 201 titles, quite high on the list which I read, but if you will inspect these titles you will find that on the subject of old Korean handicrafts and industries there is practically nothing. Korean matting, Korean paper, Korean silver, gold and brass work, Korean enamel, Korean inlay work, wood-carving and the rest have hardly a line.

Turning from industries to science we find things relatively better. Medical papers total 121, Botany 50, Geology and Zoology trail with 23 each. With the modern specialization of science it would seem to a layman like myself that there must be vast untouched regions where most valuable contributions could be made.

Lastly, we have no history of Korea. This is not intended to be a criticism of either Hulbert or Gale but the one is out of print and the other has never appeared in book form. Nor, valuable as these histories are in many ways, do either of them fully meet our needs.

The gaps which I have indicated are themselves indicative not only of the fields in which further study is needed but of the form of literature most needed. We have, if not enough, at least a sufficiency of popular generalized works on Korea. The careful scientific study of special and narrowly determined fields is our chief need at present. This holds true of mission [page 14] work as in other spheres. Of course, for well written popular presentations of needs and work there is always a place in mission literature, but I still maintain that the other is a greater need. You can almost count on the fingers of one hand the books on mission problems which could be reckoned as specialized scientific studies. I am aware that in general scientific lines a good deal has been published in Japanese but that does not supply the need for Occidental literature. Even translations of Japanese works would be very valuable. amid the entire lack of Occidental works. Despite the present interest in agricultural problems, what data do we have on Korean agricultural products, tobacco, cotton, potatoes, rice or anything else? Valuable papers have been read by our President and by Father Hunt on Korean Literature and Korean Painters but these gentlemen will be the first to tell you how much remains to be done.

There is so much to be done that I wish we might find some method of utilizing more fully the talents of the members of this society for this work. I have wondered whether a number might not volunteer to meet with the Council and after discussing the possibilities of investigation and research accept asignments of topics or questions which would appeal to their own individual lines of interests and abilities. Possibly by this arrangement the collaboration of two or more who were interested in the same subject might be secured thus easing the burden of work and giving the assurance of mutual aid. I am much impressed with the fact that we have a wealth of material before us and a wealth of talent in our midst and are doing relatively little to apply our power to our problems To mention one more possibility, it would seem that this Society was peculiarly fitted to translate the descriptions in the very valuable Albums on Ancient Korean remains and to negotiate for or co-operate in the publication of an English edition of this monumental work.

As to the history, I hope I may have our President’s forgiveness * if I say in public what I have said in private that I believe him to be the person most pre-eminently qualified [page 15] to prepare a history of Korea which in accuracy, form and style shall be worthy of its subject.

In closing I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to our President who was responsible for the beginning of the work and who has cheerfully born my occupation of his study, my endless questions, and run great risk of the loss of valuable books should Covetousness have overcome me. He has also furnished me with gallons of tea and unnumbered scones which have greatly cheered the way, through a laborious though interesting work.
* This paper was read some months before Bishop Trollope’s lamented death.
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