Tale of a Mad Painter


Kim Dong-in is one of early modern Korean literature’s representative writers of “pure” fiction. Kim declared that fiction should create an autonomous world whose value inhered within itself. In “Tale of a Mad Painter”, Kim’s aestheticist tendencies are on full display. The protagonist Solgeo serves as an embodiment of the frequently expressed remark that “evil too can be a form of beauty.” Through him Kim explores an obsessive longing for the beautiful that is akin to madness. Solgeo is both the ugliest creature under the heavens and a painter of genius. His abnormal behavior and desperate final act to complete a work of art can be said to express Kim’s aestheticism.

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