An international conference on the great poet Nguyen Du (1766-1820), appreciating his legacy of ageless values, will be held here on August 8 to celebrate his 250th birth anniversary.
Researcher and rector of the Literature Institute Nguyen Dang Diep said the organisers have received more than 100 reports by 90 local and 16 foreign researchers.
“More than half of the reports are on Nguyen Du’s epic poem Truyen Kieu (The Tale of Kieu), which is also a key topic of the conference,” he said.
Another conference focusing on The Tale of Kieu was organised here in July by the Kieu Study Association and the National Library. Thirty reports by local scholars were presented at the conference.
The Tale of Kiều, written in nom (Vietnamese ideographic characters) by Nguyễn Du, is widely regarded as the most significant Vietnamese literary work. The original title in Vietnamese is Đoạn Trường Tan Thanh (A New Cry from a Broken Heart), but it is better known as Truyện Kiều.
With 3,254 verses written in luc bat (“six-eight”) meter, the poem recounts the life, trials and tribulations of Thuy Kiều, a beautiful and talented young woman, who has to sacrifice herself to save her family. To save her father and younger brother from prison, she sells herself for marriage with a middle-aged man, not knowing that he is a pimp, and is forced into prostitution. Modern interpretations vary, but some post-colonial writers have interpreted the poem as a critical, allegorical reflection on the rise of the Nguyễn dynasty.
The masterpiece has been translated into more than 20 languages and is cherished for its creativity, independent thinking and distillation of Vietnamese culture. The work was recognised by the World Peace Council as one of the world’s celebrated cultural works in 1965.
Nguyen Du was born as To Nhu into a mandarin family in Thang Long Citadel (today’s Ha Noi). It is said that he may have inherited some of his talents from his mother. He loved listening to traditional songs. It was rumoured that he eloped with a songstress at the age of 18. He left behind many poems and The Tale of Kieu is the most influential masterpiece.
The UNESCO General Conference’s 37th session in Paris on October 25, 2013, issued a resolution honouring poet Nguyen Du along with other international cultural personalities.
The recognition was determined by voting rules outlined in the UNESCO Executive Board resolution 191/EX32.
The resolution said Nguyen Du and other celebrities would be honored in 2014 and 2015.