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Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables

Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables


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  • Product Description
  • ▶ Introduction
    English edition of Jeong Ho-seung’s best-selling book Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables
    Key work by the renowned poet and pioneer of storybooks for adults, arriving in US bookstores in time for the holidays
    Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé, the 30-year ambassador for Korean literature
    Fables shedding light on human relations and love using everyday objects as metaphors

    ▶ Publisher’s Review
    Jeong Ho-seung’s Poetic Fables for Adults
    Written by renowned lyric poet Jeong Ho-seung, whose writing touches on themes of loneliness, love, sadness, and joy, Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables is now available in a newly published English edition. Originally published in Korean in 1998, the book has seen multiple reprints as it continued to comfort readers with its insight into loneliness, joy, and other deep-seated emotions. From the story of a seemingly paltry object finding purpose in life to a tale of momentary greed leading to an irrevocable decision, these fables offer fresh views on life, leading readers toward a rich treasure trove of wisdom.

    Nuanced Translation and Soulful Illustrations
    Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables offers a delicately nuanced translation by Brother Anthony of Taizé (An Sonjae), Emeritus Professor at Sogang University. As the translator behind A Letter Not Sent (2016) and Though flowers fall I have never forgotten you (2016), Jeong’s bilingual poetry collections previously published by Seoul Selection, Brother Anthony draws on decades of experience of translating Korean poetry for English-speaking readers around the world. Graced by Park Hangryul’s  illustrations, Lonesome Jar transports readers into its fables with poignant words and artwork.

    Twenty Fables for Ordinary People Who Feel Discouraged
    The title piece “A Hangari Jar” tells the story of the first jar made by a young potter. Unhappy with his first effort, the potter dumps the unsightly jar in his yard. The long-abandoned jar eventually finds use as a pisspot, but is forgotten once again as the potter dies and his kiln crumbles into ruin. The jar spends years in anguish, longing for meaning and value in life. Finally, it is discovered by the potter’s son, who returns to his father’s kiln as a monk. Building a temple and bell pavilion on the ruins, the monk awards the jar its long-awaited purpose—it is buried under the bell as a resonance chamber, giving the bell a clear, ringing tone. At long last, the once forlorn jar becomes “something precious for this world.” Reminding readers that waiting is not in vain, the jar muses, “No matter whose life it is, if you go on waiting and trying . . . life’s dream will come true.”
    The stories in Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables follow the travails and triumphs of such objects and animals, presenting charmingly anthropomorphized fables. “Lovebirds” tells the story of a one-winged bird that can only fly after finding his other half; “Surprise Lilies” relates a tale of two cousins turned respectively into a flower and its leaves in punishment for their forbidden love; “The Seomjingang River” gives the account of a rebellious river that finally accepts its destiny of becoming the sea. The brief yet meaningful fables offer insight into the love, patience, and relationships of our human world; with compassion for life and its challenges, they whisper to readers that to live is to love and grow together. Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables offers twenty such gems that demonstrate Jeong’s broad and integrative worldview that spans both Buddhist and Christian traditions.

    ▶ About the Author
    Jeong Ho-seung
    Born in 1950 in Hadong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeong Ho-seung was raised in the city of Daegu and received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Kyunghee University in Seoul. He won the poetry prizes in the 1972 Hankook Ilbo New Spring Literary Contest and the 1973 Daehan Daily New Spring Literary Contest, and the short-story prize in the 1982 Chosun Ilbo New Spring Literary Contest, and was active in the “Anti-Poetry” literary group. His poetry collections include From Sorrow to Joy, Seoul’s Jesus, Dawn Letter, Stars Are Warm, Love Then Die, To Be Lonely Is to Be Human, Take a Train When the Tears Fall, In This Short While, An Embrace, Earning My Keep, Travels, I Refuse Hope, and In Search of You . He also released the poetry anthologies An Unshakable Reed, The People I Love, and To Daffodils; Korean-English bilingual poetry collections A Letter Not Sent and Though Flowers Fall I Have Never Forgotten You; and the essay collections Words That Have Given Me Strength, Words That Have Given Me Courage, and Without You, There is No Me, among others. The storybooks for adults Loving and Lonesome Jar: Poetic Fables have been translated into English, German, Chinese, and Vietnamese; and his poetry collections have been translated into Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Georgian, and Mongolian. Jeong’s accolades include the So-Wol Literary Prize, the Jeong Ji-young Literary Prize, the Pyeonun Literary Prize, the Catholic Literary Award, the Sanghwa Poetry Award, and the Gongcho Literary Prize.

    ▶ About the Translator
    Brother Anthony of Taizé (An Sonjae)
    Brother Anthony of Taizé (An Sonjae) was born in 1941 in England. He studied Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford University and in 1969 he joined the Taizé Community in France. He taught English literature at Sogang University, Seoul, for nearly three decades. Since 1990 he has published more than forty volumes of translated works by such esteemed Korean authors as Ku Sang, Ko Un, Cheon Sang-byeong, Shin Kyeong-nim, Park Ynhui, Yi Mun-yol, and Do Jong-hwan. Since January 2011 he has been president of the Royal Asiatic Society’s Korea branch. He received the Korean government’s Award of Merit, Jade Crown class, in October 2008 for his work in spreading knowledge of Korean literature throughout the world. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary MBE (Member of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth for his contributions to British-Korean relations.

    ▶ Contents
    Author’s Preface • 5
    A Hangari Jar • 13
    Lovebirds • 22
    Flood Tide and Ebb Tide • 30
    The Tale of a Cactus • 37
    A Hand Mirror • 43
    Water and Fire • 50
    Surprise Lilies • 56
    The Seomjingang River • 64
    The Young Flowering Cherry • 74
    Shared Pain, Shared Joy • 83
    Because I Exist You Can Exist • 89
    Two Paulownia Trees • 97
    The Kalavinka • 103
    Weasel Pagoda • 114
    The Sorrow of Flies in Autumn • 123
    The Story of a Hand • 129
    One Grain of Wheat • 136
    A Carp • 153
    The Woodpecker • 162
    A Pine Tree and an Apple Tree Talk • 173
    Tales like a Picture Diary Written with a Pencil • 180

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