Wednesday, September 26 2018


Author's cheo opera script wows critics

Update: February, 25/2012 - 08:54


In search of the light: Writer Nguyen Huy Thiep authographs copies of his latest book Vong Buom (Butterfly Spirits). — File Photo
HA NOI — Veteran writer Nguyen Huy Thiep launched his new book in Ha Noi on Thursday at an event that saw the highly regarded author discuss his life and work with some of his readers.

Thiep's new book, Vong Buom (Butterfly Spirits), marks a change for the famous novelist, playwright and literary critic as it is in the form of a couple of cheo (traditional opera) scripts.

The work has already wowed critics as it's unlike anything Thiep has published before.

It is written in verse and features two parts, Vong Buom (Butterfly Spirits) and Truyen Thuyet Tim Vua (Legend of Finding a King).

Vong Buom tells the story of poet Diep Lang, who devoted his life to finding "the light of Truth, Goodness and Beauty".

His quest has him make friends with the four evils of Wine, Drugs, Gambling and Lust. His ordeals see him conquer the four mountains of Life, Old Age, Disease and Death.

Despite his epic journey, the poet fails to find the truth of the light of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. However, at his last breath, he realises the light of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is inside himself.

Diep Lang symbolises people who want to find enlightenment and lead a good life, but also harbour certain evils in their lives.

"Diep Lang doesn't reach the peak he wants to reach, but he discovers his own reason for living," Thiep said. "He also understands that he should live in peace and tolerance, that's the story's message.

"For most of my life I have abided by the principles of peace and tolerance."

In Truyen Thuyet Tim Vua, Thiep tells readers the story of a mandarin who finds a lost prince and helps him re-establish the Le Dynasty during the 16th century. Through the historical story, Thiep compares the quest to find the lost prince with the search for a peaceful and happy life.

"I write cheo naturally as I love this traditional art," Thiep said. "In the modern life, cheo is on the decline and in danger of being lost. I want to preserve and promote this traditional art form.

"I don't know and don't care whether readers like the new book or not. I just write with all my heart and try to create a good piece of work."

Thiep said the message was more important than the medium.

"The way I write is not important, readers should understand what I want to say through the writing," he added.

Poet Nguyen Quang Thieu, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Writers' Association, said with two cheo scripts, the book was both familiar and strange to readers.

"It's familiar because most Vietnamese people know cheo but still strange because this is the first time writer Thiep has composed luc bat verses (couples of six and eight-word sentences) for cheo," Thieu said.

"Reading this book, the rhythm of cheo will resound in our minds and each reader will imagine a cheo piece for him or herself."

Some of Thiep's best known works include Tuong Ve Huu (The Retired General), Sang Song (Crossing the River), and Nhung Ngon Gio Hua Tat (The Winds of Hua Tat).

He is also the Vietnamese writer who has had the largest number of works published abroad and translated into foreign languages, including French, English, Italian, Danish, Dutch, German, Korean, Japanese and Indonesian.

Thiep received the French Literature and Arts Order in 2007 and Italian Literature Award in 2008. — VNS

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