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Memorial house honours work of writer Kim Lan

Update: January, 09/2012 - 10:15

Likeness: Painter Nguyen Thi Hien points to a portrait of her father.

 

Gallery: The memorial house provides many insights into the life of writer Kim Lan. – VNS Photos Truong Vi

HA NOI — A memorial house to celebrate the life of late writer Kim Lan has been inaugurated in Ha Noi.

On display in the four-storey house in a small lane off Tran Khat Chan Street, about 5km from Hoan Kiem Lake, are the writer's manuscripts, works, photographs, personal belongings, as well as works by his literary friends and artists such as Bui Xuan Phai, Van Cao and Phan Ke An.

"The memorial house will help preserve my father's personal memorabilia and belongings, which will help to keep his memory alive. He lived a simple but noble life. He was a person of dignity and was an example to us all," said Lan's eldest daughter and painter Nguyen Thi Hien.

Together with original documents she has collected over a number of years, Hien spent 2011 copying and printing images of her father, as well as manuscripts and written documents belonging to the author.

Hien and her four siblings, all artists, have all contributed to the collection. Nguyen Minh Duc bought an old wooden house on Ba Vi Mountain, which he installed on top of the memorial house, while his siblings bought iron wood staircases, bonsai trees and birds.

Memorabilia belonging to Lan, who died in 2007, include broken tiles from his childhood home, a tobacco pipe, tea sets and personal items such as a pair of black shoes, a walking stick, socks, wooden clogs, a tobacco holder and hats. Also on displays are numerous photos and his "toys", including hundreds of earthenware pots, jars and enamel vases dating from the 4th century.

Lan, whose real name was Nguyen Van Tai, was born in 1920 into a farming family in Tu Son District in Bac Ninh Province. He received no formal training in writing but managed to publish his first novel Dua Con Nguoi Vo Le (Son of a Concubine) when he was just 21.

He later wrote a series of short stories, mostly relating to his personal recollections of country life. His works celebrated the simple yet refined lifestyle of the rural poor and their pastimes, such as wrestling, raising hunting dogs and fighting cocks.

"My father always prided himself on being a poor writer. All his life, he lived a very simple life," Hien said. " He used to teach us that creation must be free and to be ourselves. However, he said the most important thing was to be a good individual."

Lan received public attention for works such Lang (Village), published in 1949; Nen Vo Nen Chong (Becoming Husband and Wife), 1955; and Con Cho Xau Xi (The Freakish Dog), 1960, in which he portrayed peasants' miserable life during feudalism and colonialism.

Writer To Hoai once said: "Lan was a person who always sought perfection, which is why every one of his published works is of such high standard."

Meanwhile, poet Huu Thinh, the chairman of the Viet Nam Writers Association, said during the opening ceremony on Thursday: "He was an active member of the Viet Nam Writers Association, contributing greatly to its establishment and development that benefited successive generations of young writers."

"The family has done this on behalf of the writers association. The move does not reflect filial piety but the love of contemporary writers and artists for the great writer," Thinh said.

"We consider the house to be part of the Viet Nam Literature Museum. Hopefully, it will be enriched by many more contributions relating to the writer's life and career."

On the occasion, Kim Dong Publishing House presented Lan's family with a book entitled Kim Lan – Anchorite of the Literature Village. Meanwhile, Hoang Minh, a book collector from HCM City, presented the family with two magazines published in 1942 containing short stories written by Lan.

Author Lan, who was 87 when he died, was awarded the State Prize in 2001 for his contribution to the nation's literature. — VNS

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