The Court Dancer, by Kyung-Sook Shin

On the floor, The Courtroom Dancer is an exquisite novel a couple of younger girl, Jin, and her relationship with a Frenchman. But additionally it is a lot extra. It’s about how the West views non-western peoples, and vice versa. It’s about how a girl in a really conventional nation transcends her circumscribed function. It’s in regards to the distinction between fascination with the unique, and real love. It’s about loyalty and self-determination.

The novel takes place within the late 1800s, at a time when Korea was managed by China however nonetheless had its personal king. Korea was simply starting to be open to interacting with different nations. France despatched a legate (an official consultant, akin to an envoy) to verify Catholic clergymen and nuns in Korea had been now not being killed and harassed, and this legate, Victor, falls in love at first sight with a court docket girl, Jin.

It’s troublesome to know whether or not Jin returns his love, as a result of as a court docket girl, she is required to comply with the Queen’s instructions, and the Queen asks her to spend time with Victor, who ultimately takes her to Paris with him. Jin should go away behind her beloved foster mom and the person who really loves her. In Paris, even supposing she is uncomfortable with being the article of stares and curiosity, she discovers freedom she had not recognized, and willingly takes on a task to teach the French about Korea. At one level she argues with Victor in regards to the worldwide treasures within the Louvre.

–Why? Why do you assume the Venus and the sphinx would’ve perished if not for France?
–I’ve seen with my very own eyes treasures being mistreated or uncared for. It made me really feel very unhappy. They’re not mistreated anymore as soon as they attain the Louvre. France has the ability and the means to deliver them right here.
–Then you definately’re the identical because the British, the Germans, and the People, Victor! Like Japan or China or Russia pondering they’re defending Korea.
Jin stood up straight. The willow branches alongside the Seine bowed over the floor of the water, virtually touching it.
–Folks right here have a look at me like they have a look at the stuff you’ve collected, Victor.
–What on earth are you speaking about?
–I’m no completely different than the reveals within the Louvre. (p. 231)

The writer is a well known Korean novelist. That is the primary work I’ve ever learn translated from Korean, so I can’t say how consultant it’s of Korean literature. The writer appears much less involved with plot or character than with elaborating moments of nice emotional depth or significance. Sure scenes are remembered and re-told repeatedly, such because the time 5-year-old Jin first meets the Queen and is fed spoonfuls of pear by the monarch, or the scene by which Victor first sees, and images, Jin.

Whereas loads of dramatic occasions do happen on this novel, it isn’t a ebook to be devoured for its plot, however to be savored slowly. Every sentence unfolds like a poem, and every scene is poignant and even heart-rending.


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