As I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, there is an idea that is of central importance to Vietnamese ultra-nationalists, and that is that in antiquity the Chinese migrated into the area of what is today China from the northwest, and that when they did so, they found people already living there.
These people, according to Vietnamese ultra-nationalist writers like Lý Đông A (1940s), Lương Kim Định (1950s-1990s) and Trần Ngọc Thêm (1990s-present) were the ancestors of the Việt, and they were more civilized than the Chinese, as they were the ones who created the ideas that we find in works like the Yijing.
I’ve long wondered where that idea came from, and now I realize that the main source is clearly the late-nineteenth-century writings of an Orientalist by the name of Albert Étienne Jean Baptiste Terrien de Lacouperie.
Terrien de Lacouperie was born in France in 1845, but his family was originally from England, and he published in both French and English.
He began his career as a merchant in Hong Kong where he also studied Chinese, but in 1879 he settled in London and became a member of the Royal Asiatic Society.
Terrien de Lacouperie’s main interest was the early history of China, and what he perceived as its connections to the Chaldean-Akkadian cultural world of ancient Mesopotamia.
In works like Early History of the Chinese Civilization (1880), The Languages of China Before the Chinese (1887), Western Origin of the Early Chinese Civilisation from 2,300 BC to 200 AD, or Chapters on the Elements Derived from the Old Civilisations of West Asia in the Formation of the Ancient Chinese Culture (1894), developed the idea that the Chinese descended from some tribes that migrated from the Middle East to China.
However, unlike Vietnamese ultra-nationalists who argue that these migrants were less sophisticated than the peoples who were already inhabiting the area of China, Terrien de Lacouperie felt that the Chinese migrants brought with them writing and ideas that they had already developed, and that this could be demonstrated by what he saw as similarities between Akkadian and Chinese writing, and similarities between the numerology in the Yijing with similar concepts in Chaldean-Akkandian culture.
So while there are differences in content between what Terrien de Lacouperie and Vietnamese ultra-nationalists have argued, the Vietnamese ultra-nationalist belief in an ancient Chinese migration is one which Terrien de Lacouperie established the framework for.
It is also a concept that did not enjoy much support at the time he published his ideas, and which soon fell completely out of favor.
However, these unorthodox and unprofessional ideas have lived on in Vietnamese ultra-nationalism, and I’m sure that Terrien de Lacouperie would be very pleased to know that at least some people in the world still believe him.
Filed under: Vietnam and China | Leave a Comment
Tags: ancient history, Lý Đông A, Lương Kim Định, Terrien de Lacouperie, Tran Ngoc Them, Vietnamese ultra-nationalism
Filed under: Survey of Modern Southeast Asian History, YouTube video | Leave a Comment
Tags: modern Southeast Asian history, Southeast Asia
For the past 15 years I’ve been teaching an introductory, or survey, course on modern Southeast Asian history. I’ve reached a point where I want to change how I teach this course by emphasizing different themes and topics.
Rather than just going ahead and doing so, what I’ve decided to do is to “document” the course as it currently exists, by making videos of the lectures, and to make all of those videos available on the Internet.
As I see it, this is a way to share “knowledge” more widely while also maintaining something unique about the classroom experience.
Here is the introduction to the course, and below is a list of the topics that it covers:
What is Southeast Asia?
Eighteenth-Century Southeast Asian Worlds
Southeast Asia in the “Age of Commerce”
The Malay World in the 18th century
The Philippines in the 18th century
Burma in the 18th century
Siam & Laos in the 18th century
Cambodia & Vietnam in the 18th century
Java in the 18th century
Colonial Rule in Southeast Asia
The Rise of Singapore
The Fall of the Konbaung
White Rajahs, Dayaks & Race Mixing
Java under the Dutch
Malaya and Singapore
Colonial Rule on the Mainland
The Transformation of Siam
Intellectual Changes and the Emergence of Nationalism
The Emergence of Philippine Nationalism
“Benevolent Assimilation” in the Philippines
From Siam to Thailand
Cambodia & Laos in the Early 20th Century
Competing Nationalisms in Malaya
Southeast Asia during World War II
The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines
The Japanese Occupation of Malaya
The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia
The Japanese Occupation of Burma
The Japanese Occupation of Vietnam
Post-World War II Southeast Asia
The 1st & 2nd Indochina Wars
Pol Pot and the Killing Fields
Laos and the “Secret War”
Democracy in Burma & Thailand
Malaysia and Singapore
Filed under: Southeast Asia, Survey of Modern Southeast Asian History, YouTube video | 1 Comment
Tags: YouTube Survey of Modern Southeast Asian History
The above video is meant to introduce a new book – Erica Fox Brindley’s Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c. 400 BCE-50 CE (Cambridge, 2015) – but it is also an audio-visual reflection on how scholarship and academic ideas change and develop over time.
As I see it, Ancient China and the Yue is the best study to date on the Yue/Việt, the earliest known inhabitants of the area of what is today southern China and northern Vietnam.
This books is good in that it synthesizes, and builds upon, existing scholarship, but it is also good in that, unlike some earlier scholarship, it tries to avoid supporting any agenda or politics, and merely endeavors to put forth a rational argument about the past.
That said, historians are always influenced to some extent by their times and their societies. And the general public can adopt and transform ideas from the academic world. Much of this can only be seen clearly once we can stand at a distance and look back at an earlier era.
This video is meant to be a reflection on these topics. It recalls how the field of Southeast Asian history in the US began in the post-World War II era with European scholars lecturing at American universities, and how the identity politics of the 1960s and 1970s both advanced and distorted scholarship on Southeast Asia.
And as for what came after that. . . well that’s hard to say, as we probably do not have enough distance to view it clearly yet, but it did lead to the solid study that we can enjoy today: Ancient China and the Yue.
Filed under: Uncategorized, Vietnam and China | 5 Comments
Tags: Erica Brindley, Việt Ancient China and the Yue, Yue
This is a very brief introduction to the following new book: Erica Fox Brindley’s “Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c. 400 BCE-50 CE” (Cambridge, 2015).
It’s a very good book, and I will say more about it later. This is just a “teaser.”
Filed under: YouTube video | Leave a Comment
Tags: Ancient China and the Yue, book, Erica Brindley
Large (Chinese) Rats, the Father of Modern Anthropology, and Vietnam’s Greatest (unknown/unrecognized) Historian
Last summer I wrote a blog post on the South Vietnamese philosopher, Lương Kim Định, that I entitled “Vietnam’s Greatest (unknown/unrecognized) Historian.”
Although a philosopher by training, Kim Định wrote extensively about the early history of East Asia and essentially argued that the Việt migrated into the area of what is today China earlier than the Chinese, and that the Việt created the foundation of the intellectual tradition that people today think of as “Chinese philosophy.”
The point that I tried to make in that post is that although Kim Định was not a “good” historian in the sense that he did many things that a professional historian should never do (such as base his ideas on undocumented information), he was nonetheless “great” in that he put forth a bold vision of Vietnamese history that was inspired by cutting-edge ideas in the international world of scholarship (sociology, structural anthropology, etc.).
Further, I also argued that Kim Định’s scholarship “could have” led to a better understanding of Vietnamese history “if” there had been people who possessed the same level of knowledge that Kim Dinh did who had challenged his ideas, and “if” there had been an academic culture in Vietnam which recognized that the challenging of ideas is an essential step in advancing scholarship.
Of course, there are no historians in Vietnam who have possessed the same level of knowledge about international scholarship as Kim Định did, and there is no academic culture in Vietnam which recognizes that challenging ideas is an essential means for advancing scholarship. Therefore, Kim Định’s bold and critically-inspired vision of Vietnamese history has not led to a better understanding of the past.
Instead, as the late historian Tạ Chí Đại Trường pointed out in a posthumous writing (di cảo) that is now available online, Kim Định’s “greatness” today comes from the fact that many of his flawed ideas continue to circulate, making him one of the most “influential” Vietnamese historians of the 20th century. . .
While I agree with Tạ Chí Đại Trường’s assessment of Kim Định, I’ve been reading a book about the structural anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss which confirms what I originally stated.
The book is a biography of Lévi-Strauss written by Patrick Wilcken entitled Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Father of Modern Anthropology.
If we think of an anthropologist as someone who learns a foreign language (if they study a society other than their own) and spends an extended period of time living in and studying a society, then Lévi-Strauss was a TERRIBLE anthropologist.
His only “fieldwork” was a very brief period in Brazil in the 1930s when he raced across the interior over the course of a few months, with little or no linguistic ability, and visited various communities, sometimes for just a few days at a time.
What is more, Lévi-Strauss did not “write up” his “field notes” until many years later.
I think that everyone would agree that this is not a sign of good anthropology.
So how then can Lévi-Strauss be regarded “the father of modern anthropology”?
He is the father of modern anthropology because be pushed the field forward, and the way he did this was by putting forth bold ideas (inspired by theories in other fields, like structural linguistics), supported by a mass of (problematic) evidence, that forced people to think about what he was saying, and to work hard to reject it.
However, in rejecting the ideas of Lévi-Strauss, anthropologists ultimately arrived at a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of human societies.
The more I read of Kim Định, the more I see him as a kind of Lévi-Strauss of Vietnamese history. Kim Định was a TERRIBLE historian, but he put forth bold ideas (inspired by theories in other fields, like structural anthropology), supported by a mass of (problematic) evidence.
The main difference is that people in Vietnam have accepted Kim Định’s ideas rather than seek to reject them, and produce a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of Vietnamese history in the process (like what happened in the field of anthropology with regards to Leví-Strauss’s ideas).
Here is an example of one of Kim Định’s ideas that is very “Lévi-Straussian.” There is a poem called “Large Rats” (Shuoshu 碩鼠) in the Classic of Poetry (Shijing 詩經) which has a verse that goes as follows:
Large rats! Large rats!
Do not eat our sprouting grain!
Three years have we put up with you,
But you have never extended your sympathy to us.
We will leave you,
And go to that happy frontier!
Happy frontier! Happy frontier!
For who needs to moan forever?
碩鼠碩鼠、無食我苗。 Thạc thử! Thạc thử! Vô thực ngã miêu.
三歲貫女、莫我肯勞。 Tam tuế quán nhữ, Mạc ngã khẳng lao.
逝將去女、適彼樂郊。 Thệ tương khứ nhữ, Thích bỉ lạc giao.
樂郊樂郊、誰之永號。 Lạc giao lạc giao, Thùy chi vĩnh hào!
The traditional interpretation of this poem is that it is a critique of an exploitative government or government official (the “large rat”).
For Kim Định, however, this was a poem about antiquity when the Chinese supposedly migrated from the northwest into the region of what is today China and oppressed the more indigenous Việt.
Of course for that to make sense one would first need to believe in the key point that Kim Định never documented – that there had been two migrations in distant antiquity into the area of what is today China, one by the Việt who were agriculturalists, and a later one by the Chinese (or Hoa) who were pastoralists.
But let’s put that aside for the moment and look at Kim Định’s explanation of this poem. Kim Định argues first that the “large rats” in this poem represents the invading Chinese.
What I have translated above as “sprouting grain” is a character (miao/miêu 苗), which literally means “sprouting grain,” but which also appears in the name of a non-Han-Chinese group of peoples who lived to the south of the Yangzi river in antiquity, the Youmiao/Hữu Miêu 有苗, whom Kim Định claimed were part of the original group of migrants (that included the ancestors of the Việt) into the area of what is today China.
Further, Kim Định sees the “three” in “three years” as indicating a long period of time, rather than “three years,” and argues that this is a reference to the idea that the Youmiao/Hữu Miêu had been in the region a long time before the Chinese arrived.
Finally, what I have translated as “happy frontier” is “lạc giao” 樂郊. When seen in their phonetic transcription, these two terms immediately call to mind terms that are related to the ancient Việt.
Early Chinese authors recorded the name of one group of people who lived in the far south (of the world as it was known to them at the time) as the “Lạc Việt” 雒越, while “Giao Chỉ” 交趾/阯 was the name of an administrative unit that the Han Dynasty established in the Red River delta.
However, the characters for “lạc” and “giao” in the expression “happy frontier” are different from the characters used in the terms “Lạc Việt” and “Giao Chỉ.” Nonetheless, Kim Định played with the sonic connections between these terms and argued that the final lines of this poem indicate that people were moving away from the “large (Chinese) rats” to form a new region for the “Lạc Việt” 雒越, and that they were “happy” (lạc 樂) about this.
So based on Kim Định’s explanation, this verse could perhaps be rendered as follows:
Chinese invaders! Chinese invaders!
Do not oppress the Hữu Miêu!
For long we have preceded you,
But you have never recognized our labors.
We will leave you,
And go to the Lạc Việt frontier!
The Lạc Việt frontier! The Lạc Việt frontier!
For who needs to moan forever?
I would argue that this is exactly like the type of scholarship that Claude Leví-Strauss produced.
Kim Định and Leví-Strauss both sought to reveal “hidden meanings” below the surface of texts and human societies by providing bold and new ways for interpreting human societies and the past, but their ideas were incredibly subjective, and seriously flawed.
In the case of Leví-Strauss, subsequent anthropologists have revealed how subjective his interpretations of human societies were, and they have sought to offer more sophisticated interpretations.
In the case of Kim Định, his ideas have never been seriously challenged, but instead, today form the core of an official university-level textbook in Vietnam.
Therefore, I think that Tạ Chí Đại Trường and I are both correct. Kim Định is “Vietnam’s Greatest (unknown/unrecognized) Historian” . . . We simply indicate different aspects of this “greatness” and employ varying degrees of sarcasm in making our points.
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One among the many topics in Vietnamese history which scholars have not examined in much detail is a spirit writing (giáng bút) “movement” which took place in northern Vietnam at the turn of the 20th century. This was a complex phenomenon. It was an outgrowth of earlier practices associated with a type of text known as morality books (thiện thư).
Morality books were texts which had been revealed in China by spirits such as Wenchang Dijun and Guangshang Dijun. They encouraged people to live in accordance with Confucian moral standards, but they used the logic of karmic retribution to encourage people to do so, that is, if you did good things, good things would happen to you, and if you did bad things, bad things would happen to you.
People would not only attempt to follow the moral standard which these texts promoted, but they would also chant them on a daily basis in an effort to create merit for themselves.
At some point in the late nineteenth century, Vietnamese went from “reading” these texts to creating their own. They did this through spirit writing. A spirit would descend into a medium’s body, and then that person would write out the spirit’s message in a tray of sand. Someone standing next to this tray would recognize the characters and call them out, and a third person would write them down.
There were then lecturers who would read and explain these texts to assembled devotees.
After enough such pieces of spirit writing had been revealed, a book would be made by carving these texts onto woodblocks and printing them. Printing and distributing such texts was yet another way to gain merit.
The first spirits to start revealing such messages in Vietnam were male spirits, and were mainly Chinese, such as Wenchang Dijun, Guangshang Dijun and Lu Dongbin. Such “Northern” spirits, as they were called, then started to rely on “Southern” spirits to reveal their message. Here Trần Hưng Đạo took the leading role, but there were many other local spirits who assisted him.
One of the first texts revealed in northern Vietnam which included revealed messages by Trần Hưng Đạo and numerous Chinese spirits was the True Scripture for Reflecting upon Oneself (Tỉnh thân chân kinh), which was first printed in 1900 in Nam Định by the Hall for Encouraging Goodness (Khuyến Thiện Đường), a group dedicated to promoting the use of morality books.
In the same year, this same group published another volume of revealed writings called the True Scripture in the Kingdom’s Sounds for Illuminating Goodness (Minh thiện quốc âm chân kinh). This was a collection of spirit writings which also promoted Confucian morality.
What was different about this text was that it was mainly written in Nôm, instead of classical Chinese, and the spirits who revealed these messages were women, and were led by the Holy Mother Trinity (Tam Vị Thánh Mẫu), three of the main figures in what many people now refer to as the Holy Mother Religion (Đạo Thánh Mẫu).
This True Scripture in the Kingdom’s Sounds for Illuminating Goodness was printed and distributed, but hand-copied versions of it were made and passed around as well. It was apparently in response to the many mistakes that seeped into the text in these versions that the Holy Mother Trinity received permission from the Jade Emperor to reveal the text again in 1904.
This Expanded True Scripture in the Kingdom’s Sounds for Illuminating Goodness (Tăng quảng minh thiện quốc âm chân kinh) contained the same information as the original text, and added some additional revealed writings.
From this start in Nam Định, the Holy Mother Trinity soon began to reveal messages in others parts of northern Vietnam, a topic that I will address in the next post.
Filed under: Vietnam | Leave a Comment
Tags: giáng bút, Holy Mothers, spirit writing, Thánh Mẫu
I came across a document that contains a list of movie theaters in French Indochina in 1951.
The distribution of theaters is predicatable: 14 in Hà Nội, 12 in Sài Gòn, 10 in Hải Phòng, 8 in Phnom Penh, 6 in Chợ Lớn, 3 in Đà Lạt, 2 in Đà Nẵng, and 1 each in Huế, Nha Trang, Vũng Tàu, and Hải Dương.
Meanwhile, the number of seats in these theaters was as follows: 7,500 in Sài Gòn, 6615 in Hà Nội, 5350 in Phnom Penh, 4450 in Chợ Lớn, 4370 in Hải Phòng, 1320 in Đà Lạt, 900 in Đà Nẵng, 500 in Huế, 350 in Nha Trang, 350 in Vũng Tàu, and 250 in Hải Dương.
While there is not much that is surprising from these numbers, there are a few things that seem obvious. The high number of movie theaters in cities was not just due to the fact that there were more people there, but also to the fact that there were more Chinese there as well.
There was, for instance, a “Trung Quốc” (“China”) theater in Chợ, Lớn, Hải Phòng, Hà Nội and Phnom Penh. Some of the other theaters must have focused on Chinese films as well.
It is interesting to see that there was only one theater in Huế. I wonder if this was merely due to its smaller population, or if the culture of the old imperial capital somehow discouraged the development of the movie theater industry there.
It is also interesting to see how large the movie theater industry in Phnom Penh was, as well as the fact that there appears to have been a total absence of movie theaters in Laos.
Filed under: French Indochina, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
Tags: French Indochina, movie theaters
I’ve written quite a lot on this blog about the South Vietnamese philosopher, Lương Kim Định, and his ideas about history.
What was Kim Định’s view of the past? In a nutshell his view was that originally the area of what is today China was inhabited by people who engaged in agriculture (người nông nghiệp) and who were the ancestors of the Việt. Kim Định refers to them as the “Viêm race” (Viêm tộc). According to Kim Định, the ancestors of the people whom we now refer to as the Han Chinese, but whom he referred to in this early period as the “Hoa race” (Hoa tộc), then migrated into the region.
The people of the Hoa race, again according to Kim Định, were pastoralists (người du mục). These people ultimately started to conquer the Viêm race, but in the process, they adopted many of the Viêm race’s cultural practices as well. This included concepts that we find in the Yijing.
These concepts, according to Kim Định, eventually came to be part of the “Confucian” world of the Han Chinese. As a result, people today see a text like the Yijing as “Chinese,” but according to Kim Định that text represents ideas that were created in the pre-Chinese world of the Việt.
Kim Định therefore coined a term, “Việt Nho,” which we can loosely translate as something like “Việt Confucianism” to refer to this pre-Sinicized body of ideas.
How did Kim Định come up with such a view of the past? There are several people who have suggested to me that Kim Định might have gotten these ideas from an earlier, and somewhat mysterious, figure who wrote under the name of Lý Đông A.
Lý Đông A’s real name was Nguyễn Hữu Thanh. He was born in 1920, and apparently spent some time as a teenager helping take care of Phan Bôi Châu while he was under house arrest in Hue. During WW II he became a revolutionary and wrote various tracts to encourage people to resist the French (and the Chinese and the Thai and anyone else who might stand in the way of the Vietnamese). However, Lý Đông A’s anti-colonial efforts competed with those of the Việt Minh, and he was assassinated in 1947.
Many of Lý Đông A’s writings were later republished in South Vietnam, so we have a sense of what it is that he thought, and from those writings we can see that the outline of Kim Định’s ideas about history were already expressed in the 1940s by Lý Đông A.
In particular, Lý Đông A argued that all of humanity originally migrated outward from the Pamir Mountains around 5,000 BC and that the Việt (or Viêm) made it to the area of what is now Mount Taishan in Shandong Province where they created texts that are related to the tradition of the Yijing, such as the Hetu/Hà Đồ (the Yellow River Chart) and the Luoshu/Lạc Thư (the Luo River Square). However, the Việt were then pushed southward by the Chinese, until they finally established a base in the Red River Delta.
This view of the past is very similar to Kim Định’s, minus the detail of a difference between agriculturalists (the Việt) and pastoralists (the Chinese). However, Kim Định never cited Lý Đông A or any other Vietnamese when he presented this information.
He did, on the other hand, cite the works of some modern Chinese scholars for factual information and Western Sinologists such as Herrlee Creel, Wolfram Eberhard and Harold Wiens for their comments about how the world of the ancient Chinese had been much smaller, and that ancient China had been much less ethnically homogenous, than scholars had been previously believed.
But none of those scholars said anything about ancient migrations of agriculturalists and pastoralists, or of any pre-Chinese people creating concepts that we can find expressed in the Yijing.
So did Kim Định “steal” these ideas from Lý Đông A?
I think the answer to this question can be found in the way that Lý Đông A presented information about the past. He did not write a narrative in which he explained his ideas. Instead, he presented his ideas in lists of points, or in questions.
What is more, it is clear that he was able to present his ideas so briefly in this outline form because his readers must have already known what he was talking about.
Take, as an example the following two questions that Lý Đông A asked his readers in an essay that he wrote in 1943.
- “Was our race locally born or did it descend from the Pamir Mountains?”
- “How many years before the Han and the Yi [‘barbarians’] did [our race] descend into East Asia, and what was the history of that like?”
The second question only makes sense if one knows how readers will answer the first question, and readers will only be able to answer the first question in the way that Lý Đông A expects them to if they are familiar with the topic.
There are many more examples like this in Lý Đông A’s writings that we could point to.
So what does this mean? It suggests to me that in his writings Lý Đông A expressed ideas about the past that while not “official,” were nonetheless probably well-known at a popular level.
This “unorthodox” version of the past contained ideas about race and ancient migrations into Asia from places to the west, and these were all ideas that French authors discussed in numerous writings in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
It would therefore make sense that some of those ideas would have made it into circulation at the popular level among Vietnamese, and that these ideas would be transformed to some extent.
This would also explain why Kim Định wrote about the past in the way he did. That view of the past was probably not limited to Kim Định and Lý Đông A.
Instead, my guess would be that it was something that was commonly known, but as an “unorthodox” view of the past, it did not make it into most books and textbooks.
If this view had been unique to Kim Định and Lý Đông A, then I don’t think they would have written the way they did. Lý Đông A would have had to explain more, and Kim Định’s views would have been too absurd for anyone to accept.
But if these ideas about the past were already in popular circulation, then the writings of both of these men would have made sense to many people.
Filed under: Uncategorized, Vietnam | Leave a Comment
Tags: Lý Đông A, Lương Kim Định
I was saddened to learn yesterday that South Vietnamese historian Tạ Chí Đại Trường has passed away. I never had the good fortune of meeting Tạ Chí Đại Trường, but in recent years we did have a kind of “meeting of minds,” and I’m forever grateful to him for that experience.
A few years ago I wrote an article that argued that the Hùng kings were a “medieval invented tradition.” I knew that such an article would be controversial to some people, and when I received the reports from anonymous readers, I opened them with apprehension.
The first report was short. It was positive, but offered some good advice on how to improve the piece. Then I opened the second report and found that it contained 15 pages of single-spaced text in Vietnamese.
I was shocked. Had I made someone so infuriated that s/he poured out 15 pages of denunciations of my ideas?
I scrolled to the end to read the conclusion first: “As was already stated at the beginning, we easily approve of the argument of Mr. X, and can only repeat it by different means.”
(Như đã phát biểu từ đầu, chúng tôi dễ dàng tán thành lập luận của ông X nên chỉ có thể lặp lại bằng cách khác thôi.)
I was relieved to read this, but as I then read through the comments, I quickly saw that there was great humility in that statement, because rather than “repeating” the argument that I had made, Tạ Chí Đại Trường expanded it tremendously as he examined the way that the story of the Hùng kings had been used for political purposes in the centuries after its first appearance in fifteenth-century texts.
The editors at that time of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, where I had submitted that article, were likewise impressed by Tạ Chí Đại Trường’s comments and decided to translate them into English and to publish them in 2012.
As for Tạ Chí Đại Trường’s original comments in Vietnamese, they have sat on my hard drive for all of these years. At some point I did make an inquiry (through a mutual acquaintance) to see if Tạ Chí Đại Trường would approve of me making the comments available online. I was told that Tạ Chí Đại Trường did approve.
However, I never got around to it because the text was written in an older Vietnamese font and publishing the text online would have required converting the font and then cleaning up the text.
In addition, Tạ Chí Đại Trường’s original comments began with a long discussion about the date of the text where the story of the Hùng kings first emerged, as I had initially made a careless mistake in my manuscript and had put the wrong date. Given that I fixed that mistake in the manuscript, that section of Tạ Chí Đại Trường’s comments was omitted from the English-language version. Therefore to make the Vietnamese-language version match the English-language version would have required further editing.
As such, the need to convert and edit the text led me to procrastinate, but now that Tạ Chí Đại Trường has tragically passed away, I think that it is best simply to share what he wrote, unedited.
I have therefore made the original Vietnamese-language comments and the edited/published English-language version available on this Academia.edu page (under the section “papers”).
Rest in peace Tạ Chí Đại Trường, and thank you so much for sharing some of your time and knowledge with me.
Filed under: The Two Vietnams, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
Tags: Tạ Chí Đại Trường