Nguyễn Khuyến

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Nguyen Khuyen in 1905 Chan dung tam nguyen yen do nguyen khuyen.jpg
Nguyễn Khuyến in 1905
Nguyễn Khuyến
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Nguyễn Thắng

Nguyễn Thắng, pen name Nguyễn Khuyến, (15 February 1835 in Ý Yên, Nam Định 5 February 1909 in Yên Đổ) was a famous Vietnamese Ruist scholar, poet and teacher living in the 19th century. [1]

A pen name is a pseudonym adopted by an author and printed on the title page or by-line of their works in place of their "real" name. A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise their gender, to distance an author from some or all of their previous works, to protect the author from retribution for their writings, to combine more than one author into a single author, or for any of a number of reasons related to the marketing or aesthetic presentation of the work. The author's name may be known only to the publisher or may come to be common knowledge.

Nam Định City in Vietnam

Nam Định is a city in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam. It is the capital of Nam Định Province. The city of Nam Định is 90 km south-east of Vietnam's capital, Hanoi. From August 18–20 of each year, there is a festival held in Nam Định called the Co Trach. This celebration honors General Trần Hưng Đạo, a 13th-century national hero who led Vietnamese forces to victory over the invading Mongols. Nam Định is also the birthplace of Letran Student, Dominican Friar and Vietnamese Saint Vicente Liem de la Paz, O.P. De la Paz was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988.

Vietnam Country in Southeast Asia

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, part of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.


Early life

Nguyễn Thắng was born on 15 February 1835 in his mother's hometown Văn Khế village, Hoàng Xá commune, Ý Yên district, Nam Định Province. His father's home town was Và village, Yên Đổ commune, Bình Lục district, Hà Nam Province. His father Nguyễn Tông Khởi (1796–1853) was a teacher. His mother was Trần Thị Thoan (1799–1874) and her father was Trần Công Trạc.

Nam Định Province Province in Red River Delta, Vietnam

Nam Định is a province in the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam.

Hà Nam Province Province in Red River Delta, Vietnam

Hà Nam is a province of northern Vietnam, in the Red River Delta. The province's name derives from Sino-Vietnamese 河南, meaning "south of the river".

Nguyễn Khuyến
Vietnamese alphabet Nguyễn Khuyến

Nguyễn Thắng studied to become a mandarin (the governing class of Vietnam). His first teacher was Phạm Văn Nghị. Although he was intelligent and knowledgeable, he did not initially fare well in his examinations. In 1864, he passed the Cử nhân degree (or: Hương Cống, Chinese: 鄉貢, the lowest degree of Vietnamese feudal educational system) at first-rate (Masters level) in Hà Nội. One year later, unfortunately, he failed his doctoral examination Hội examination [2] so he went to Hanoi to study at Quốc Tử Giám (National University).

To instil himself with iron discipline and motivate himself, he changed his given name from Nguyễn Thắng to Nguyễn Khuyến. In the Vietnamese language, Thắng only means success or victory but Khuyến has a stronger meaning implying inspiration or stimulation; Thắng is the result but Khuyến is the way toward the result (Vietnamese people have a tradition named "Khuyến Học"- Study Encouragement). After six years of preparation, he passed the Hội Nguyên degree and the Đình Nguyên degree—his doctorate—continuously in only one year in 1871. This was an extraordinary accomplishment rarely seen throughout history, so people gave him an honourable name: "Tam Nguyên Yên Đổ" (Yên Đổ's first-rate graduate in three times).

Vietnamese language official and national language of Vietnam

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a first or second language for the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. As a result of Vietnamese emigration and cultural influence, Vietnamese speakers are found throughout the world, notably in East and Southeast Asia, North America, Australia and Western Europe. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.


Nguyễn Khuyến was a mandarin in the age of the French invasions. History unfolded like the text he wrote in his Đình Nguyên examination twelve years before: "As a carriage does not come toward because the horses do not want to pull, the political situation does not improve when the people do not want it to. Are there no talents in life? It is completely untrue." When patriotic movements such as "Cần Vương" ("Seeking the King") were extinguished and his dream of "Trị quốc, bình thiên hạ" (leading the country, pacifying the world) was not realized, he landed in an impasse. He recognized his powerlessness to change conditions in the country and was deeply aware of the decline of Vietnamese feudalism. He was one of the first Vietnamese people to criticize Vietnamese feudalism as conservative and unrealistic. In 1884, he withdrew from public life and moved back to his home town Yên Đổ to support the Vietnamese resistance against the French enemy. There he found peace in his soul through a simple and tranquil life in the countryside.

Later life

The more adversity he met in his life, the more talented he became in his writing. He was the nexus between classical and modern Vietnamese literature. He was both a prominent lyric poet and an outstanding satirical poet. He reached the peak of Nôm letter's literature. He was the first Vietnamese poet who put opinions about current matters in classical poems. Among his best poems are: "Group of three poems about Autumn: Fishing in Autumn, Drinking in Autumn, Versing on Autumn" which express sadness and loneliness and "Paper Doctor" which ridicules incapable scholars. In addition, he was one of the few upper-class poets who wrote favourably about poor farmers. Throughout his life he taught his children to show deep gratitude toward farmers: "Even if you are a scholar, do not forget rice, beans and eggplants."

Chữ Nôm Writing system for the Vietnamese language using Chinese characters

Chữ Nôm, in earlier times also called quốc âm or chữ nam, is a logographic writing system formerly used to write the Vietnamese language. It used the standard set of classical Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, while new characters were created on the Chinese model to represent other words.

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Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima. As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize.

Eggplant plant species Solanum melongena

Eggplant (US), aubergine (UK), or brinjal is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae, Solanum melongena, grown for its often purple edible fruit.

He died on 5 February 1909 in his hometown Yên Đổ.

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  1. J. Wills Burke Origines: the streets of Vietnam : a historical companion 2001 "NGUYỂN KHUYỂN (1835–1909) Nguyễn Khuyến, who wrote under the pen name Quế Sơn, was also krrown as Yên Nguyễn Bá Cẩnổ, the name of his home village in Hà Nam Province. Raised in a mandarin family, Khuyến was a poet and a Scholar of the first rank. He scored "first Scholar laureate" on three levels Of the feudal examinations - and he did it at three different times. While Serving the Nguyễn Dynasty at the Huế Court, he lost faith in royal authority and subsequently resigned his position. He retumed to Yên Nguyễn Bá Cẩnổ and refused to Cooperate with the French Colonial authorities."
  2. Description of Vietnamese mandarin examinations: