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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Heaven's post office (Hanŭl uch’eguk) : methodology, analysis, and translation Kim, Dawn D.


Written as a commemorative and reflective text, Kim Subok’s Heaven’s Post Office (Hanŭl uch’eguk, 2015) blends personal and public histories to reconcile the self, find closure for personal and public loss, and search for sources of trauma. As this collection spans his forty years as a poet, the themes used throughout his body of work are recalled: themes of historical loss awaken latent feelings of trauma while other themes that explore the transcendental quality of nature and existential questioning are also revisited, but their re-visitation is largely reflective. Rather than embarking on a new poetic examination, Kim’s collection returns to sites once travelled. To uncover how memory is engaged by the poet and to better frame the translation, I include the translation methodology and analysis of the text by way of memory studies, providing the reader with a framework that clarifies translation structures and textual meaning. I use four paradigms from translation studies to distill the translation process in the methodology section: polysystems theory, theories of equivalence, skopos theory, and cultural translation. I include an exposition of these theories to contextualize theoretically the translation choices I have made. Additionally, for the analysis portion, drawing on previous theorization of poetry’s role in memory and subjectivity formation, I suggest that since poetry can house memory, it can be considered a technology of memory; as such, many poems are memory texts located in personal and collective memory spheres and use imagery and memory work to create a shared space of empathy and prosthetic memory-making. Not all poems belong to personal and collective spheres of memory and thus, not all poems create prosthetic memories – other poems like these are relegated to the transcendental quality of nature. The final portion of this thesis culminates in my English translation of Heaven’s Post Office. These three portions act to elucidate Kim’s engagement with memory and the process of translation – especially the cultural translation that is necessarily at play. Through prosthetic memory-making, Kim extends an experiential engagement with Korea’s history and his own trauma and past, creating a third space of ethical engagement and empathetic alliance.

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