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忠武公 李舜臣(1545~1598)은 壬辰倭亂 당시 해전을 주도하여 대승을 이끌어낸 무신으로 憂國忠節의 표상으로 오래도록 기려져 왔다. 이러한 이미지는 오늘날에도 유효한 듯하다. 현대인들에게 이순신은 初年부터 殉死하기 직전까지 언제나 올곧은 길만을 걸어온 ‘不滅의 聖雄’으로 각인되어 있다. 이순신에 관한 강렬한 인식이 형성, 지속될 수 있는 배경에는 무엇보다 그를 형상한 문학작품들의 영향이 크게 작용한 것으로 보인다. 이순신의 삶을 다룬 문학작품들은 예외 없이 이순신의 ‘苦難-超克’을 기본 구도로 하고 있는데, 이와 같은 구도가 처음 등장한 것을 申采浩(1880~1936)의 <李舜臣傳>으로 추정된다. 그간 신채호의 <이순신전>은 애국계몽기 ‘역사전기물’의 자장 안에서만 언급되었을 뿐, 개별 작품으로서의 가치가 간과되어 온 측면이 없지 않다. <이순신전>을 비롯한 역사전기물의 연구가 이와 같은 편향을 보인 가장 큰 요인은, 외형상 소설을 표방하고 나온 양식이지만 실제 내용은 서사보다는 논설을 위주로 하는 문학이라는 인식이 강고했기 때문으로 보인다. 작품들의 개별적인 특질은 부각되지 못한 채, ‘의례히’ 애국계몽의식을 드러내기 위한 방편에 불과하며 서사양식으로는 실패한 것으로 뭉뚱그려진 것이다. 이에 본고는 <이순신전>을 통해 역사전기물이 다양한 역사적 담론을 거쳐 왔으며, 근현대에 문학적 형상화의 始原이 된 국면을 다양한 시선에서 살피고자 하였다. ‘倭亂’이후부터 애국계몽기에 이르기까지 다채로운 편폭으로 전개된 ‘이순신’ 문학의 역사적 轉機를 되짚어봄으로써 歷史意識과 敍事가 운용되는 원리를 해명해 보고자 한 것이다.


Lee Soonshin(Yi Sunshin) was a Korean naval commander, famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war(Japanese Invasions of Korea) in the Joseon Dynasty, and is well-respected for his exemplary conduct on and off the battlefield. Before getting into the period of patriotism and enlightenment, there were substantial documents and literature related to Lee Soonshin. Among official records were 『The Annals of King Seonjo』, and 『The Collected Works of Yi Chungmugong』. 『The Collected Works of Yi Chungmugong(Duke of Loyalty and Warfare)』 was compiled in 1795 by order of King Jeongjo. It consisted of 「Nanjung Ilgi(The Diary of Korean-Japanese War)」, a document showing his daily life in detail, 「The Chronicle」 recorded by his nephew, Yi Bun, and 「The Obituary」 written by Choi Euhae. Up to now most works - biography, novel, movie, drama, and critical biography including <Lee Soonshinjeon> have been another versions of narrated and described Lee Soonshin's whereabouts from 『The Collected Works of Yi Chungmugong』. In this way it looks obvious the official records related to Lee Soonshin still receive a lot of attention in these days. It's true, however, there have been different views between public appraisals. The historical reviews of Lee Soonshin's whereabouts taken in the Joseon Dynasty. First, some controversial issues in the process of a grant of rewards with King Seonjo and Won Gyun right after Imjin war (『The Annals of King Seonjo』), a little vague part recorded in 『The Annals of King Seonjo』 about his disobedience to a royal command was revised drastically and made a turning point in a commemoration project for the memory of Lee Soonshin (『The Revised Annals of King Seonjo』, The Plaque of Chungnyeolsa- a sacred shrine), and later during the era of Jeongjo people died, who led a conspiracy of Lee Soonshin's assignment release and the atmosphere which highly appreciated his considerable accomplishments over Imjin war and Byeongja horan(The second Manchu invasion of Korea) reached its peak(『The Collected Works of Yi Chungmugong』). For example Lee Soonshin just appeared in the first volume of 『Jingborok (The book of Correction』 by Yu Seongryong(1542~1607) when he took Hyungam of Jeongeup and then the military commissioner of Jeolla Province's Eastern Fleet. That is to say after the description of the movements of Japanese envoys and war clouds of Japanese Invasions of Korea, his appointment was described at last. Also the important situations of his life - many successful campaigns against the Japanese, imprisonment, and resurgence were presented together with Imjin war. Thus it seems his life couldn't go beyond the historical background ‘Japanese Invasions of Korea’. So did this in each different collection of literary works. and couldn't get out of its category - he was just qualified as a military commander with his considerable accomplishments, had dissension with the Royal Court, and condolences for his death. It's been hardly ever to find the documentary works showing Lee Soonshin's life pre-Imjin war concretely, it was just confined to historical circumstance, mostly relating to Imjin war. However, getting into the period of patriotism and enlightenment, there came another turning point of historical appraisal in literary works of Lee Soonshin through a genre of historical biography.