The Wŏrinch’ŏn’gang chi Kok: a Contrastive Textological Study

Younès M’Ghari

The Wŏrinch’ŏn’gang chi Kok: a Contrastive Textological Study

(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)

The Wŏrinch’ŏn’gang chi Kok (月印千江之曲; WK), a biography of the Buddha published in the form of cantos in 1447, is considered one of Korea’s most valuable premodern manuscripts as it has notably been compiled under King Sejong’s supervision and was one of the very first works to be published in the vernacular alphabet. Yet, it appears that, after its late discovery, in the twentieth century, the great majority of researchers have mainly focused on its orthography and on the reconstruction of the phonology of Middle Korean (Ahn & Yu 2014:48–49, King 2017:38).

The WK is likely to abound in many discoveries to be made at the morphosyntaxical level and it has the specificity to have been written from several texts imported from China, among which probably Sengyou’s Shijiapu (釋迦譜), Daoxuan’s Shijia Shipu (釋迦氏譜) and the Lotus Sutra (華嚴經) (Lee 2003:165–167). Hence, I chose to pursue further research through the comparison of these texts with the WK to determine with a forensic and contrastive textological approach (1) which manuscripts were directly (and indirectly) taken as source texts in the writing process of the WK and (2) the parallel recurrent morphosyntaxical patterns involved in translating/rewriting the life of the Buddha from these source texts written in Classical Chinese into fifteen-century Middle Korean.

Ahn, Seung-Jun & Yu, Hak-Young (2014). “Wŏrin Ch’ŏngang chi Kok-ŭi Puan Silsangsa Sojang Kyŏng’wi-wa kŭ Chŏllae Kwajŏng” [The Sequence of Possession of WK of Silsangsa Temple in Buan] in Changsŏgak (vol.32), Seoul: The Academy of Korean Studies, pp. 48–74
King, Ross (2018). “The Moon Reflected in a Thousand Rivers: Literary and Linguistic Problems in Wŏrinch’ŏn’gang chi kok” in Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies (Vol.18, No.1), Seoul: Academy of East Asian Studies, pp.1–42 Lee, Peter H. (2003). A History of Korean Literature, Cambridge University Press, 580 p.