Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The Việt Nam Institute of Literature reviewed the southern literature scene at a national conference in HCM City last week.
The event was co-organised by the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and the University of Thủ Dầu Một in Bình Dương Province.
Prof Phong Lê, of the institute and a member of Việt Nam Writers Association, said that many talented writers and critics appeared on the scene in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in literary criticism and linguistics.
He urged the institute, associations and universities in the region to find ways to promote literature among young readers.
Cultural researcher Trần Nhật Vy, who was involved in southern literature for several years, said: “Famous writers living in the 19th century reflected changes in society, especially urban society, through their works.”
"I think new writing styles adopted from the West allow Vietnamese authors to explore.”
The country’s first series of short stories were published in Gia Định Báo (Gia Định Newspaper) of Sài Gòn (now HCM City), the first Vietnamese newspaper, in December, 1881.
Works in different genres of poems, plays and fiction by feature writers, such as Trương Vĩnh Ký, Nguyễn Trọng Quản, Mai Nham and Trần Chánh Chiếu, received warm response from readers.
Quản’s Thầy Lazaro Phiền (Mr Lazaro Phiền) was released by J. Linage, libraire-editeur (publisher), in 1887 and recognised as the country’s first novel in Vietnamese.
“These writers and their works are ignored by publishers, which is one of the reasons critics ignore them,” said Vi, adding that the pioneers played a very important role in the region’s literature and their contribution should be reappraised.
The conference attracted 120 veteran writers, critics, cultural researchers and historians from dozens of institutes, associations and universities around the country. — VNS