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FICTION

Constructing Dreams: Pristine Home by Jeong Chan

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.20 Summer 2013
  • byYi Soo-hyung
Pristine Home
2013
275pp.

Pristine Home is a collection of eight short stories by Jeong Chan, a novelist who has been writing for 30 years and has written more than 10 novels and books. For a long time, Jeong has been pondering over the issue of how to deal with the problems of reality in the literary genre called fiction.

In “The Song of the Siren” and “The Reed Pen of a Troubadour,” the image of the novelist, weighed down by the burden of finding an answer to a question that exists between reality and fiction, overlaps with that of a wandering minstrel in ancient Greece. 

Jeong has mulled over the fundamental questions of human existence for decades, and he has perhaps come to a simple riddle-like realization that “the more you know about human beings, the less you understand them.”

Pristine Home reports about and laments the bloodstained history of human atrocities, such as relatively recent events like the inhumane, systemic violence in modern Korea, the massacre of civilians in China by the Japanese during the Second World War, or horrendous battles that took place thousands of years ago.

“There is a plethora of languages to the point of giving me a headache that describe God but I could not find one that showed aspects of godliness, which is what I was most curious about. I even suspected that language was a pretext to hide and not show God.” It is through language that humans beckon God, seek salvation, and despair over inhuman conditions; however, it is nonetheless a very impotent linguistic act.

But just as the protagonist of “Old Daydream” dreams of becoming Chuang-tzu’s butterfly in order to transcend the repetition of historical tragedies, the writer too will not stop his dreaming by way of his novels, nor by way of language. “Longing beckons reverie. I have begun to daydream. Daydreaming will transform me into Chuang-tzu’s butterfly.” The point where the historical tragedies end surely must be the point of the deepest dream that Jeong Chan’s stories yearn for. 

Author's Profile

Jeong Chan is a novelist. Jung debuted with the publication of a novella in the magazine World of Language, in 1983. His story collections include The River of MemoryThe Road of Comfort, and Die in Venice. His novels include Evening of the WorldGolden LadderUnder the Broom TreeWilderness, and A Wanderer. He has won many literary awards, including the Dongin Literary Award.