Vietnamese literature

Last updated

Vietnamese literature (Vietnamese : văn học Việt Nam; Chữ Hán: 文學越南) is the literature, both oral and written, created largely by Vietnamese-speaking people.

Contents

History

For a millennium before the 10th century, Vietnam was under the rule of various Chinese dynasties and as a result much of the written work during this period was in Chữ Hán. Chữ Nôm, created around the 10th century, allowed writers to compose in Vietnamese using native characters that were inspired by Chinese characters. It flourished in the 18th century when many notable Vietnamese writers and poets composed their works in chữ nôm and when it briefly became the official written script.

While the Chữ Quốc ngữ script was created in 1631, it did not become popular outside of missionary groups until the early 20th century, when the French colonial administration mandated its use in French Indochina. By the mid-20th century, virtually all Vietnamese works of literature were composed in quốc ngữ. Today, Francophone Vietnamese and English-speaking Vietnamese are counted by many critics as contributors to the ongoing history of Vietnamese literature.

Types

Folk literature

Unlike written literature, early oral literature was composed in Vietnamese and is still accessible to ordinary Vietnamese today. Vietnamese folk literature is an intermingling of many forms. It is not only an oral tradition, but a mixing of three media: hidden (only retained in the memory of folk authors), fixed (written), and shown (performed). Folk literature usually exist in many versions, passed down orally, and have unknown authors.

Myths consist of stories about supernatural beings, heroes, creator gods, and reflect the viewpoint of ancient people about human life. They consist of creation stories, stories about their origins (Lạc Long Quân, Âu Cơ), culture heroes (Sơn Tinh or Mountain Spirit - Thủy Tinh or Water Spirit).

Medieval literature

Văn ngôn

The earliest surviving literature by Vietnamese writers is written in Chữ Hán or Classical Chinese. Almost all of the official documents in Vietnamese history were written in Chữ Hán, as were the first poems. [1] Not only is the Chinese script foreign to modern Vietnamese speakers, these works are mostly unintelligible even when directly transliterated from Chinese into the modern quốc ngữ script due to their Chinese syntax and vocabulary. As a result, these works must be translated into colloquial Vietnamese in order to be understood by the general public. These works include official proclamations by Vietnamese emperors, imperial histories, and declarations of independence from China, as well as Vietnamese poetry. In chronological order notable works include:

Nôm

Works written in chữ Nôm - a locally invented demotic script based on chữ Hán - was developed for writing the spoken Vietnamese language from the 13th Century onwards. For the most part, these chữ Nôm texts can be directly transliterated into the modern chữ Quốc ngữ and be readily understood by modern Vietnamese speakers. However, since chữ Nôm was never standardized, there are ambiguities as to which words are meant when a writer used certain characters. This resulted in many variations when transliterating works in chữ Nôm into chữ Quốc ngữ. Some highly regarded works in Vietnamese literature were written in chữ Nôm, including Nguyễn Du's Truyện Kiều , Đoàn Thị Điểm's chữ nôm translation of the poem Chinh Phụ Ngâm Khúc (征婦吟曲 - Lament of a Warrior Wife) from the Classical Chinese poem composed by her friend Đặng Trần Côn (famous in its own right), and poems by the renowned poet Hồ Xuân Hương.

Other notable works include:

Modern literature

While created in the seventeenth century, chữ quốc ngữ was not widely used outside of missionary circles until the early 20th century, when the French colonial government mandated its use in French Indochina. During the early years of the twentieth century, many periodicals in chữ quốc ngữ flourished and their popularity helped popularize chữ quốc ngữ. While some leaders resisted the popularity of chữ quốc ngữ as an imposition from the French, others embraced it as a convenient tool to boost literacy. After declaring independence from France in 1945, Empire of Vietnam's provisional government adopted a policy of increasing literacy with chữ quốc ngữ. Their efforts were hugely successful, as the literacy rate jumped overnight.

In those early years, there were many variations in orthography and there was no consensus on how to write certain words. After some conferences, the issues were mostly settled, but some still linger to this day. By the mid-20th century, all Vietnamese works of literature are written in chữ quốc ngữ, while works written in earlier scripts are transliterated into chữ quốc ngữ for accessibility to modern Vietnamese speakers. The use of the earlier scripts is now limited to historical references.

Works in modern Vietnamese include:

See also

Related Research Articles

The Vietnamese alphabet is the modern Latin writing script or writing system for Vietnamese. It uses the Latin script based on Romance languages originally developed by Portuguese missionary Francisco de Pina.

History of writing in Vietnam

Spoken and written Vietnamese today uses the Latin script-based Vietnamese alphabet, the lexicon altogether containing native Vietnamese words derived from the Latin script, Sino-Vietnamese words (Hán-Việt), native Vietnamese words, and other adapted foreign words. Historic Vietnamese literature was written by scholars in Nôm and before that Hán.

Culture of Asia Overview of the culture of Asia

The culture of Asia encompasses the collective and diverse customs and traditions of art, architecture, music, literature, lifestyle, philosophy, politics and religion that have been practiced and maintained by the numerous ethnic groups of the continent of Asia since prehistory. Identification of a specific culture of Asia or universal elements among the colossal diversity that has emanated from multiple cultural spheres and three of the four ancient River valley civilizations is complicated. However, the continent is commonly divided into six geographic sub-regions, that are characterized by perceivable commonalities, like culture, religion, language and relative ethnic (racial) homogeneity. These regions are Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia.

Culture of Vietnam Culture of Vietnam

The culture of Vietnam is highly multicultural. The early culture in Vietnam started with the Bronze Age Đông Sơn culture considered to be one of its most important progenitors for its Ancient history. Vietnamese culture was heavily influenced by Chinese culture due to the 1000 years of Northern rule. In this period of time Vietnamese was written with Chữ Hán, a Chinese script, and afterward a Vietnamese script that was based on Chinese, but which included invented characters to represent native Vietnamese words. This large impact on Vietnamese culture means that Vietnam is often considered to be part of the East Asian cultural sphere.

Trần dynasty Dynasty of the Kingdom of Đại Việt (1225–1400)

The Trần dynasty, also known as the House of Trần, was a Vietnamese dynasty that ruled over the Kingdom of Đại Việt from 1225 to 1400. The dynasty was founded when emperor Trần Thái Tông ascended to the throne after his uncle Trần Thủ Độ orchestrated the overthrow of the Lý dynasty. The Trần dynasty defeated two Mongol invasions, most notably in the decisive Battle of Bạch Đằng River in 1288. The final emperor of the dynasty was Thiếu Đế, who was forced to abdicate the throne at the age of five years in favor of his maternal grandfather, Hồ Quý Ly.

<i>Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư</i> Official historical text of the Vietnamese Lê Dynasty

The Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư is the official national chronicle of the Vietnamese state, that was originally compiled by the royal historian Ngô Sĩ Liên under the order of the Emperor Lê Thánh Tông and was finished in 1479 during the Lê period. The 15-volume book covered the period from Hồng Bàng Dynasty to the coronation of Lê Thái Tổ, the first emperor of the Lê Dynasty in 1428. In compiling his work, Ngô Sĩ Liên based on two principal historical sources which were Đại Việt sử ký by Lê Văn Hưu and Đại Việt sử ký tục biên by Phan Phu Tiên. After its publication, Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư was continually supplemented by other historians of the royal court such as Vũ Quỳnh, Phạm Công Trứ and Lê Hi. Today the most popular version of Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư is the Nội các quan bản edition which was completed in 1697 with the additional information up to 1656 during the reign of the Emperor Lê Thần Tông and the Lord Trịnh Tráng. Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư is considered the most important and comprehensive historical book. The chronicle, which was modeled after Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, provides a chronological historical narration beginning with the legendary Hồng Bàng dynasty and continuing to the founding of the house of Lê in 1428.

Phan Khôi

Phan Khôi was an intellectual leader who inspired a North Vietnamese variety of the Chinese Hundred Flowers Campaign, in which scholars were permitted to criticize the Communist regime, but for which he himself was ultimately persecuted by the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Nam quốc sơn hà is a famous 11th-century Vietnamese patriotic poem. Dubbed "Vietnam's first Declaration of Independence", it asserts the sovereignty of Vietnam's rulers over its lands. The poem was first dictated to be read aloud before and during battles to boost army morale and nationalism when Vietnam under Lý Thường Kiệt fought against the first invasion of the Song dynasty in 1075–1076, though its exact authorship is still controversial.

Lý Thường Kiệt, real name Ngô Tuấn, was a Vietnamese general and admiral of the Lý dynasty. He served as an official through the reign of Lý Thái Tông, Lý Thánh Tông and Lý Nhân Tông and was a general during the Song–Lý War.

Vietnamese poetry originated in the form of folk poetry and proverbs. Vietnamese poetic structures include six-eight, double-seven six-eight, and various styles shared with Classical Chinese poetry forms, such as are found in Tang poetry; examples include verse forms with "seven syllables each line for eight lines," "seven syllables each line for four lines", and "five syllables each line for eight lines." More recently there have been new poetry and free poetry.

<i>Đại Việt sử lược</i>

The Đại Việt sử lược or Việt sử lược is an historical text that was compiled during the Trần Dynasty. The 3-volume book was finished around 1377 and covered the history of Vietnam from the reign of Triệu Đà to the collapse of the Lý Dynasty. During the Fourth Chinese domination of Vietnam, the book, together with almost all official records of the Trần Dynasty, was taken away to China and subsequently collected in the Siku Quanshu. Đại Việt sử lược is considered the earliest chronicles about the history of Vietnam that remains today.

Nguyễn Quảng Tuân

Nguyễn Quảng Tuân was a writer, poet and researcher in South Vietnam. He was born in the village of Yên Mẫn, the district Võ Giàng, the province of Bắc Ninh, northern Vietnam.

Throughout the history of Vietnam, many names were used in reference to Vietnam.

The Chinh phụ ngâm is a poem in classical Chinese written by the Vietnamese author Đặng Trần Côn (1710-1745). It is also called the Chinh phụ ngâm khúc (征婦吟曲), with the additional -khúc emphasizing that it can be performed as a musical piece not just read as a plain "lament".

Trần Văn Giáp was a Vietnamese historian who wrote the first widely published histories of Buddhism in Vietnam in French. The two volumes, for Annam and Tonkin respectively were published in Paris in 1932. Giáp was an authority on Hán-Nôm literature. On his return to Vietnam he published various other histories in Vietnamese, both in Latin alphabet quốc ngữ and Chinese chữ Nho.

Chữ Nôm Writing system for the Vietnamese language using Chinese characters

Chữ Nôm is a logographic writing system formerly used to write the Vietnamese language. It uses Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, with other words represented by new characters created using a variety of methods, including phono-semantic compounds. This composite script was therefore highly complex, and was accessible only to the small proportion of the population who had mastered written Chinese.

Phan Trần

Phan Trần is an anonymous Vietnamese language epic poem in lục bát verse originally written in Nôm script. It was first transcribed into the Latin-based modern Quốc ngữ Vietnamese alphabet in 1889.

Vietnamese calligraphy Calligraphic tradition of Vietnam, in various scripts

Vietnamese calligraphy relates to the calligraphic traditions of Vietnam. It includes calligraphic works using a variety of scripts, including historical chữ Hán, Chữ Nôm, and the Latin-based chữ Quốc ngữ. Historically, calligraphers used the former two scripts. However, due to the adoption of the Latin-based chữ Quốc ngữ, modern Vietnamese calligraphy also uses Latin script alongside Chinese script.

Vietnamese nationalism Form of nationalism regarding the Vietnamese people and nation

Vietnamese nationalism is a form of nationalism that asserts the Vietnamese people are an independent nation and promotes cultural unity in Vietnam. It encompasses a broad range of ideas and sentiments harbored by the Vietnamese people for many centuries to preserve and defend the national identity of the Vietnamese nation.

Seals of the Nguyễn dynasty Collection of seals made for Vietnamese emperors between 1802 and 1945

The seals of the Nguyễn dynasty can refer to a collection of seals specifically made for the emperors of the Nguyễn dynasty, who reigned over Vietnam between the years 1802 and 1945, or to seals produced during this period in Vietnamese history in general.

References

  1. George Cœdès The Making of South East Asia 1966- Page 87 "No work of literature from the brush of a Vietnamese survives from the period of Chinese rule prior to the rise of the first national dynasties; and from the Dinh, Former Le, and Ly dynasties, all that remains are some poems by Lac Thuan (end of the tenth century), Khuong Viet (same period), and Ly Thuong Kiet (last quarter of the eleventh century). Those competent to judge consider these works to be quite up to the best standards of Chinese literature.