Yu Jongho 유 종호 (1935- )

Language: Korean

Jane Eyre translation: 1970, 2004

One of Korea’s major ‘new’ literary critics. Former Chair of Korean Literature at Yonsei University, Professor of English at Ewha University and the 36th President of the Korean National Academy of Arts.  He debuted with Valley of Language (언어의 유곡(幽谷)) in 1957 in Verbal Art (문학예술). He is author and translator of over 100 books including What is Literature? and The Pessimism of Korea. His most influential critical essays were republished in a five-volume collection in 1995 (The Collected Critical Essays of Yu JongHo vol 1-5). He was awarded, among others, the Order of Silver Cultural Merit in 2001, the Inchon Prize for Literature in 2002 and the Manhae Prize in 2007. For further details see: http://www.naa.go.kr/site/eng/naa/member/view?memId=273 .

More pertinently to this project, Yu’s Korean translation of Jane Eyre (Seoul: Dongwha Press, 2nd edition, 1973) was awarded the Best Translation of British Classics prize by the Translation Evaluation Committee of the Research Society of British and American Literatures (1995-) in 2004. Funded by the Korean National Research Foundation (대한학술 진흥재단, 韓國學術進興財團), a 44 member committee drew up a short list of 36 best translations between independence (1945) and 2003. Prizes were awarded to 14 works in American literature and 22 in British Literature.

Jane Eyre was among the 22 titles and 25 translations of Jane Eyre were closely read and evaluated. Judges pointed to the precision and accuracy of his words,  the text’s fidelity to the original and praised his concerted effort to recreate as much nuance as possible as well as the preservation of the overall flow in the longer sentences. After Yu won this award, he revised the 1973 version, in which he used ornate and literary Chinese vocabulary, producing a more up-to-date modern Korean translation (Minum Press: Seoul).

Text by Sowon Park