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Veteran author writes cultural commentary

Noted culture researcher and author Huu Ngoc has just published a new book containing his commentaries on Vietnamese culture as well as famous Vietnamese and foreign contemporaries.

Veteran author writes cultural commentary
Veteran author writes cultural commentary

Titled Huu Ngoc – Dong Hanh Cung The Ki Van Hoa Viet Nam (Huu Ngoc Accompanies a Century of Vietnamese Culture), the book has three chapters: Nhung Nguoi Viet Cung Thoi (Vietnamese Contemporaries), Nhung Nguoi Nuoc Ngoai Cung Thoi (Foreign Contemporaries) and Nhung Goc Nhin Van Hoa (Cultural Views).

In his latest work, published by the Information and Communications Publishing House, the 96-year-old culturist writes about the development of Vietnamese culture including the impacts of exchange with foreign cultures.

His commentaries on Vietnamese and foreign acquaintances that he has directly met or been influenced by also paint a vivid picture of Vietnamese culture.

Among the people he discusses are Huynh Thuc Khang, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ho Chi Minh, Phan Khoi, Tan Da and Vu Trong Phung.

“In Vietnamese culture, we should understand the very important notion of change,” Ngoc said at the book’s launching ceremony held last Saturday as part of the Ha Noi Book Fair.

“So where or what is the Vietnamese cultural identity?

“The roots of over 3,000 years ago are still living. For example, here and there, there are still images of ploughs and buffaloes; old folk verses and songs still live in the souls of Vietnamese people, consciously and subconsciously.”

Poet Tran Dang Khoa said Huu Ngoc’s latest work was “a special book, a dense and diverse cultural forest with many colours, simple, strange and alluring.

“Huu Ngoc does not seem to age. He’s like a fossil skeleton. Time seems unable to “strike” him. He’s like a river flowing very rapidly…”

Born in 1918 in Ha Noi, Huu Ngoc is fluent in four foreign languages – French, English, German and Chinese. He has authored numerous articles, including commentaries on foreign cultures and long-running columns in Le Courier du Vietnam and Viet Nam News.

His writing is light, but carries many interesting and little-known facets of a culture, using historical sources, myths, legends, festivals, cuisine and politics. He also delves into spiritual aspects of other cultures.

A collection of his essays titled A Sketch of Vietnamese Culture in French and English is considered a literary landmark that was presented by the Vietnamese Government to visiting Heads of State at the 7th Francophone Meeting in Ha Noi in 1997.

He has continued to work on the book after 1997, developing it into a larger tome of 1,200 pages under a new title, Wandering through Vietnamese Culture that included selections from the weekly edition of Viet Nam News.