Exploring Vietnamese History Through Literature: Themes and Perspectives

Exploring Vietnamese History Through Literature: Themes and Perspectives

For many readers before The Sympathizer was published, Vietnam was a distant land inhabited by mysterious and mistrustful people. The novel Mother’s Legacy, for instance, is a national allegory about the scattered bastard children of two dead fathers.

Its main character, Kien, moves through several different time zones without chapters, illustrating how war gothicizes the concept of time.


During this renewal period, Vietnamese literature strove for an aesthetic and ethical coherence with its social and political context. For the first time, female authors exploded into literary life. Their feminine sensitivity brought new energy to prose and poetry. They scoffed at gendered social proscriptions and embraced graphic depictions of war, atrocity and the psychology of home front life.

One example is Bao Phi’s novel Catfish and Mandala, a story of a girl who flees Vietnam in the 1990s and struggles to understand herself and her war-marked parents. This spare, lyrical novel, written in the style of a spoken word slam champion and graduate from Wallace Stegner’s Stanford writing program, is highly collectible.

Other themes include isolation, dislocation and alienation; reconciling cultural and generational complexities; and identity loss. Especially significant are the themes of sorrow and trauma, such as that evoked by the doubly traumatic event of rape. Gina Marie Weaver’s book Ideologies of Forgetting examines this theme in the novels of Bao and Duong.

Doi Moi economic reforms literature

After the war ended, Vietnam stepped into a new phase of reform. This phase was called Doi Moi, and it was a time of removing self-imposed barriers to progress as well as attempting to rectify an unproductive autarchy economy by introducing foreign investment, promoting a market-oriented system, and boosting exports.

This period also brought about a change in literary focus. Writers moved away from patriotism to a new social philosophy that emphasized human destinies, universal values, and a critical attitude toward reality. This was especially true of women writers, whose feminine sensitivity breathed new life into literature during this renewal process.

Le Ly Hayslip’s novel When Heaven and Earth Changed Places is perhaps the best example of this new direction. Nguyen Khoa Diem Her book tells the story of a peasant girl caught between pro- and anti-communist forces in her home village. The book stunned readers with its candid depictions of postwar discontent and the foibles of a fledgling Vietnamese government.

Vietnamese war literature

A large number of books have been written about Vietnam, including a few that have achieved some degree of literary recognition. These works explore the complex issues of the war and attempt to capture its brutal physical reality and ambivalent moral dimensions.

Many of these works are memoirs and novels that depict the experiences of American soldiers in Vietnam. They also portray the cultural chasm between the Vietnamese people and their American counterparts. Some of these books have become classics, while others fall flat with time and hindsight.

The most notable works of this genre are the poetry and memoirs by Michael O’Donnell and Tim O’Brien. They explore the grim realities of war, and describe the emotional toll that it takes on the soldiers. They also call for reconciliation and a desire to bring peace to the country. These books have had a significant impact on the way we understand the Vietnam war. The writings of these authors have helped to heal the wounds of this conflict.

Modern Vietnamese writers

Modern Vietnamese writers started to take on Western science and philosophy, making writing an increasingly intellectual and rational pursuit. Globes, photographs, electric lights, ships, railways and post offices, iron bridges, printers, newspapers and novels from the industrial West began to feature more frequently in the https://bancanbiet.vn/ work of southern writers like Binh Nguyen Loc with The remaining distances, Tram islet and Son Nam; Xuan Dieu and Thach Lam with the novel The house across the river; and the southern emigre Nguyen Thi Thuy with her books Port without boat and Heaven music.

The literary revolution in the North was even more dramatic. In 1933, a young girl, Nguyen Thi Kiem, gave a talk on literature to an audience in the Association for the Promotion of Learning. Her talk attacked old forms of poetry whose strict rules prohibited truthful expressions of new experiences. This set off two years of a heated battle in printed words between the old and new poetry involving both individuals and the press.