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VIETNAMESE LITERATURE

Outline Notes

CHRONOLOGY of Events



1627 French influence in VN begins when a
missionary adapts VN language to Roman
alphabet
1787 French military intervene in VN politics
1820 First American, a sea Captain, lands in
VN
1861 French forces capture Saigon



1863 French forces influence extends into
Cambodia
1887 France creat Union of Indochina
1918 The VN people have first contact with
American Soldiers when the French
government loans the US Army Vietnamese
workers (they are recruited from colony owing
to a labor shortage in France during WW1




1940 Japanese troops occupy Indochina
during WW2
1940s First Indochinese arrive in the US as
immigrants
1945 France seeks return of its colonies in
Indochina
1946 Start of First Indoschina War (France
against Vietminh seeking Independence)

1953 Cambodia and Laos gain
independence
 1954 VN gains independence and is
partitioned into a Communist North and
pro-west South. US helps France evacuate
800,000 refugees from the north to the
south

1957 Beginning of Communist insurgency
in South Vietnam
 1959 First American soldier killed in South
Vn, special forces contact the Hmong and
other highland groups in Laos
 1962 Large-scale deployment of American
military advisors in S Vietnam

1964 Naval skirmish off the coast of North
Vn leads US Congress to grant Pres.
Johnson military power to itnervene in
Southeast Asia

Vietnam Literature
Rich, varied expressing over the centuries.
 Depicts hunuor, realism, and irony of the
Vietnamese people

Genres

Anonynous Literature (Oral)
• Legends
• Proverbs
• Songs that depicts aspects of traditional society

Folk Literature (17th and 18th century)
• Fables
• Satirical and narrative poems
• Verse Novels

• Verse Novels
• first verse has 6 feet
• 2nd verse has 8 feet
• 6th character of the second verse rhymes with the last
character of the first verse
• these novels are recited and sung from village to village

• Texts indicate chinese influence, chinese
characters (Tom language) and chinese conception
of literary style

Modern Literature
• texts are evidence of realism as a repurcussion
of 30+ of war
• it also shows a literary dichotomy created by
the partition of Vietnam in 1954

“Through literature, writers hoped to bring
the spirit of reform into all spheres of
Vietnamese life.”

Themes

Oriental Philosophy - a system that
harmonizes the natural and social world that
includes humanity in the center uniting with
nature and society.
Oriental Philosophy discovered not only the
three directions of time (past, present,
future) but also a 4th direction - the
direction of spiritual life.

This philosophy is also influenced by the ff:
• Buddhism
• Confucianism
• Taoism - that is mainly a combination of folk
beliefs and high regard of nature
• Animism (10th Century - where strong winds,
the waters, and the mountain were worshipped

“Nature and society and humanity unite
with one another in a harmony of beauty.
The link of human generations and
thousands of living creatures never ends.
(Phuc Cu De, 1999)

NONE turns HAVE - NONE means
endless, boundless, immense, infinite,
numberless in moving and changing
movements and the developing process of
everything. HAVE is not simply possessive
in meaning but it means the limitation of
changing and the developing process
ofeverything. (Phuc Cu De, 1999)

Other themes




Loyalty
Wheels of Fortune
Fortune Telling
Karma, Justice, Responsibility and
Retribution
Nature, Society, and Humanity unite with
one another in a harmony of beauty







Sadness of life
poignancy of love relationship
struggle between humanity and poverty
strength in human character
River is life and society
the will to love
reference to nature