This video relates to this blog post on the influence of the ideas of French geographer Paul Vidal de La Blache on Vietnamese historian Đào Duy Anh’s 1938 work, An Historical Outline of Vietnamese Culture (Việt Nam văn hóa sử cương).
As the previous post demonstrated, while it is clear that in writing his An Historical Outline of Vietnamese Culture (Việt Nam văn hóa sử cương, 1938) historian Đào Duy Anh was influenced by Yang Dongchun’s A General Outline of the Cultural History of China (Benguo wenhuashi dagang 本國文化史大綱, 1931), he was also influenced by French scholarship.
We can see this right away at the beginning of the book in the section on “What is Culture?” Right after Đào Duy Anh more or less repeats word-for-word the opening passage from Yang Dongchun’s book, he then offers discusses the issue of why different people have different cultures.
This video relates to this blog post on the influence of scholarship from the Republic of China on Vietnamese historian Đào Duy Anh’s 1938 work, An Historical Outline of Vietnamese Culture (Việt Nam văn hóa sử cương).
Get ready for a video series on the historical scholarship of the great twentieth-century Vietnamese scholar Đào Duy Anh. . .
One of the (many) problems with the way that modern Vietnamese history has been written about (both by historians inside and outside of Vietnam) is that there is virtually no recognition of any Chinese intellectual influence on Vietnam in the 1920s and 1930s when in fact there was significant influence.
Everyone recognizes that the traditional Vietnamese elite were deeply influenced by the ideas of their counterparts in imperial China. Everyone also recognizes that early-twentieth-century reformers like Phan Bội Châu were influenced by the ideas of late-Qing reformers like Liang Qichao.
But then after that. . . there is virtually no mention of any kind of intellectual connection between members of the Vietnamese elite and their counterparts in the Republic of China (ROC).
On the 29th of May in 1906, Emperor Thành Thái issued regulations to reform the education curriculum for students in schools that were meant to prepare them for the civil service exams. These reforms addressed three levels of teaching (introductory, elementary and middle), and the reforms of the highest level called for three separate tracks to be established: a classical Chinese track, a vernacular Vietnamese (using the Latin script) track, and a French track (mainly to learn how to translate).
Read any book on modern Vietnamese history, and it will glorify a reformist school that enjoyed a brief existence in Hanoi in 1907 – the Tonkin Free School (Đông Kinh nghĩa thục 東京義塾). This school is credited with being the first to teach about “modern” (i.e., Western) subjects, and to promote the use of the vernacular language, as transcribed in a Romanized script (chữ quốc ngữ), instead of classical Chinese.
Meanwhile, none of the authors of any of those books will cite the Addendum to the Imperial Commissioned Collected Statues and Regulations of the Great South (Đại Nam hội điển sự lệ tục biên 欽定大南會典事例續編), a compilation of Nguyễn Dynasty edicts and orders.
However, that text demonstrates that the Nguyễn Dynasty was just as eager to bring about the kind of linguistic and intellectual reforms that the Tonkin Free School was.
When the final palace exam was held in Huế in 1919, there were questions in both classical Chinese and modern Vietnamese (using the Latin script, chữ quốc ngữ). One of the questions in Vietnamese asked the following:
“Our country has been one of literary civility for thousands of years. Should we now follow the Occident and establish a National Academy to translate books? Discuss this.”
Phạm Quang Sán was a fascinating individual. In 1908 he translated into classical Chinese reformist ideas that were originally written in Vietnamese so that people who only new classical Chinese could learn about them – the General Discussion of Elementary Learning (幼學普通說約 Ấu học phổ thông thuyết ước). In 1909 he wrote a reformist version of examination questions and answers so that students studying for the civil service exams could be exposed to Western learning – A New Selection of Policy Studies (Sách học tân tuyển 策學新選).
And in 1911 he published a bilingual (Chinese and Vietnamese) science textbook called the General Reader (普通讀本 Phổ thông độc bản).