Skip to main content

Vietnamese Classical Literature - 19th Century


Vietnam Classical Literature is not known to the outside world as Chinese Literature. For the younger generation, the study of Vietnamese literature seem to fade away, leaving place to contemporary authors on topics on modern existentialism. In my attempt to "come back to source", I have started a collection of books on Vietnam, and classify them under various topics such as Culture, History, Vietnam War, Politics, Biographies, Contemporary Vietnam, International Relations, Doing Business in Vietnam, Reference and Languages, Zen Buddhism, Philosophy, Art and Literature. 

Here is a short picture of the literary world under the last dynasty of Vietnam: the Nguyen. 


Indeed, the 19th Century was a flourishing century for literature and the arts in Vietnam. It opened up with the Kim Vân Kiều  by Nguyễn Du (1765-1820) and closed with the anonymous Song of True Patriotism (Chính Khí Ca :1900). 


Three outstanding talents, Nguyen Du, Mdm Ho Xuan Huong and Nguyen Dinh Chieu contributed to the Vietnamese Classical Literature with the greatest masterpieces: The Tale of Kieu, and Luc Van Tien, two epics and selected poems.



  • Nguyen Du (1766-1820): It is necessary to keep in mind his historical and social background in order to understand both Nguyễn Du and his main work, The Tale of Kieu (Vietnamese Truyện Kiều), which was based on an earlier Chinese work known as Kim Vân Kiều and was originally titled Đoạn Trường Tân Thanh (lit. new accents of a heart-rending song).  Nguyen Du's main work is Kim Vân Kiều, (English title:The Tale of Kieu). The Tale of Kieu was written under a pen-name as the story was quite critical of the basic tenets of Confucian morality. It is a tragic tale of two lovers forced apart by the girl's loyalty to her family honor. Nguyễn added his own pain and guilt over the self-betrayal of his own code of honor, and the result is one of the greatest masterpieces of Vietnamese literature. What made the Story of Kiều a masterpiece is the refined, subtle, and yet simple way the author arranged his verses in a popular and genuinely Vietnamese cadence of six upon eight syllables that renders the recitation harmoniously rhythmic and the excerpts easily committed to memory. More Literature on Kieu

  • Mdm Ho Xuan Huong (1772–1822) Mdm Hồ Xuân Hương must have lived under three different dynasties, --the Lê, Tây Sơn and Nguyễn-- and must have owed her fame to her poems composed almost exclusively in nôm.  In between husbands, Hồ Xuân Hương managed a kind of salon frequented by writers and poets, where her talent shone in polished, elegant, but also daring, and  sexually evocative poems and retorts. To view Online selected readings in Vietnamese by Mdm Ho Xuan Huong, click here. More on Ho Xuan Huong on vnthuquan.net


  • Nguyen Dinh Chieu (1822-1888) Nguyen Dinh Chieu was a Vietnamese poet who was known for his nationalist and anti-colonial writings against the French colonization of Cochinchina, the European name for the southern part of Vietnam. He was the best known opponent of collaboration in the south of Vietnam and was regarded as the poet laureate of the southerners who continued to defy the Treaty of Saigon which ceded southern Vietnam to France, disobeying the royal orders of Emperor Tự Đức to continue harassing the French forces. His epic poem, remains one of the most celebrated works in Vietnamese literature. While Nguyễn Du's style was elegant, sophisticated, Nguyễn Đình Chiểu's words were easily understood by the common people and many of his verses sound just like a chat between two people in the streets. Nguyen Dinh Chieu main work is Lục Vân Tiên, perhaps one of the two most recognizable and influential epic poems in Vietnamese history. The poem praises the power of true love, applauds bravery and fair justice. Lục Vân Tiên, named after the main character, was written in nôm in 2080 six-upon-eight verses.While Nguyễn Du discoursed about the dichotomy between talent and fate, about the sufferings every human being had to endure, Nguyễn Đình Chiểu warns his readers to scrutinize the past so as not to make mistakes in the future. Young men should put loyalty and filial piety on top of all values, whereas young women should make chastity and faithfulness their ideals.
    To view the Online Vietnamese version: Click here. More on Nguyen Dinh Chieu on vnthuquan.net

  • Other classical Authors: Chinh phụ ngâm khúc - The Complaint of the Warrior’s Wife, by Authors: Ðoàn Thị Ðiểm (1705-1748) /  Ðặng Trần Côn (1715?-1745). view You Tube 
  • Cung oán ngâm khúc -  The Complaints of an Odalisk, By Author: Nguyen Gia Thieu (1741-1798), view article under buddhist view by Ven. Thích Pháp Như

  • Famous Selected classical works by Bà Huyện Thanh Quan (1805-1848), Nguyễn Khuyến (1835-1909), and Tran Te Xuong (1870-1907) can be found under the source indicated hereafter: wikipedia, maxreading.com, youtube, daophatngaynay.com.
(Compiled by Anh Tho Andres)

About YourVietbooks.com
YourVietBooks is a collection of books on Vietnam for Readers who are interested in Vietnam's History, Culture, Language, Business & Management. Titles are available in English, French, German and Vietnamese. Find out more about our translation services, contact yourvietbooks@gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

GT sách nói: Hồ sơ mật Dinh Độc Lập

Bản nguyên thủy bằng tiếng Anh: Nguyễn Tiến Hưng, The Palace File, 1986
Bản dịch: Nguyễn Tiến Hưng, Hồ sơ mật Dinh Độc Lập 

Về tác giả: Nguyễn Tiến Hưng (sinh 1935), tiến sĩ kinh tế, nguyên Tổng trưởng Kế hoạch và Phát triển của Chính phủ Việt Nam Cộng hòa, hiện là giáo sư tại Đại học Harvard. Ông cũng là tác giả hai cuốn sách thuộc loại bán chạy nhất (best seller) là Hồ sơ mật Dinh Độc Lập (The Palace File, 1986) và Khi đồng minh tháo chạy (2005).

Là người nắm hồ sơ, văn thư mật liên quan đến cam kết giữa hai tổng thống Mỹ-Việt, tác giả đã công bố những hồ sơ nầy để minh chứng sự phản bội của Hoa Kỳ (qua những nhân sự cầm quyền) đối với “đồng minh” Nam Việt Nam, dẫn tới kết thúc của Việt Nam Cộng hoà qua biến cố 1975.

Năm 1986, ông cùng với ông Jerrold L. Schecter (cựu chủ biên ngoại giao Tuần báo Time và nguyên Phụ tá Giám đốc Báo chí Nhà Trắng, và Phát ngôn viên của Hội đồng An ninh Quốc gia Hoa Kỳ) viết và xuất bản cuốn The Palace File do Harper & Row Publishers phát hành, và sau…

GT sách hay: 100 cuốn sách cần đọc

Chính trị – Xã hội 1. Chính trị luận – Aristotle ( Alpha Book) 2. Tinh thần pháp luật – Montes Quieu (NXB Đà Nẵng) 3. Bàn về Khế ước xã hội – Jean Jacques Rousseau (Alpha Book) 4. Khảo luận thứ hai về chính quyền – John Locke (NXB Tri Thức) 5. Tâm lý học đám đông – Gustave Le Bon (NXB Tri Thức) 6. Khổng học đăng – Phan Bội Châu (NXB Văn học) 7. Hàn Phi Tử – Hàn Phi – Phan Ngọc dịch (NXB Văn học) 8. Các mô hình quản lý nhà nước hiện đại – David Held (NXB Tri Thức) 9. Sao biển và nhện: Cơ cấu phân quyền - Ori Brafman & Rod A. Beckstrom (NXB Tri Thức) Các cuốn từ 1-4 là những cuốn sách nền tảng về nền chính trị phương Tây và các giá trị vẫn còn ảnh hưởng đến thế giới hiện đại. Cuốn số 5 là một tập tiểu luận phân tích cách các chính trị gia, các thủ lĩnh phương Tây mê hoặc đám đông bằng cách nào và sự tàn phá của đám đông. Cuốn 6 là tác phẩm tổng hợp lại các giá trị cốt lõi của Khổng giáo do cụ Phan Bội Châu viết. Cuốn 7 là tác phẩm của Hàn Phi trong thời Chiến Quốc, xây dựng những ý …

Radio Saigon

Hi All,

I just discover this radio station, broadcasting from Houston in Vietnamese. Here are some highlights of their news.

Radio Saigon is a broadcasting center that distributes programs to multiple stations in the Vietnamese community including Houston, Dallas, Northern California, and Southern California.
RSH 900AM KREH, the first station of Radio Saigon, is the leading Vietnamese radio station in Houston, TX since 1999. Radio Saigon provides original and informative programs covering issues on all aspects of life; diverse daily and weekend hosts; guest experts and celebrities appealing to all age groups; veteran journalists with established reputation; and traditional values combined with modern vision. News and Information Good morning, Houston!SportsFinanceScienceMedicineEntertainment Headline NewsTraffic & WeatherTalk Shows Youth TalkLaw & LifeHeath & LifeUs WOMENVoters' ForumThe Car & YouBusiness ForumPolitics and YouLove and FamilyHome ImprovementSafety & th…