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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Traveler Maps

Ko Un

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To purchase Traveler Maps

Title: Traveler Maps
Author: Ko Un
Genre: Poetry
Written: (2004)
Length: 11 pages
Original in: Korean
Availability: Traveler Maps - US
Traveler Maps - UK
Traveler Maps - Canada
  • Translated and with an introduction by David R. McCann

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Our Assessment:

B+ : a beautiful object, a bit short on content

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The Tamal Vista edition of Traveler Maps is a beautiful object. Measuring 3.25 x 4.25 x 1.75 inches, it's a very small book, the design based on: "a 17th century book of maps used by Korean travelers". Each double-page, you see, folds out and opens (top and bottom) into a 12 inch by 12 inch page. Good for maps, but also attractive for poems -- placed in space usually found only in much larger (and unwieldier) books.
       A second -- though in this case perhaps the primary -- advantage is that a book that requires the opening and then re-folding of pages in this way necessarily is 'read' differently than one where on can just quickly turn the pages. The format almost forces greater appreciation of the unfolded poetry; certainly it's easier to give it closer attention.
       Short enough not to get annoying -- including the introductory page, there are only twelve such foldouts -- it makes for an agreeably different reading experience.
       In his (very short) introduction McCann writes of Ko Un:

There is no way, alas, to keep up with him, but this map of a book may at least suggest some of the places he has been.
       With only eleven poems on offer (one stretching out over four pages), this really is only a tiny sample of and introduction to Ko Un's work -- really only the barest glimpse of a few pieces. Good ones at that -- and some of which go particularly well with this presentation (where each poem almost demands to be appreciated on its own). Still, format largely overwhelms content: the inevitable oohs ! and ahhs ! over the lovely little book almost drowning out the poems.
       Worthwhile -- both for the poems and especially for the lovely look and feel of the book -- the only shame is that there's not more of Ko Un's marvelous work here. A library of 100s of such volumes, covering his entire (or at least more of his) output ... that would be a start.

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Traveler Maps: Ko Un: Other books by Ko Un under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Korean author Ko Un was born in 1933. He has won many literary prizes.

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© 2006-2009 the complete review

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