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Reading South Vietnam's Writers

Reading South Vietnam's Writers

The Reception of Western Thought in Journalism and Literature

by Jörg Thomas Engelbert and Chi Phuong Pham
Publication Date: 02/07/2023

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This edited book examines how South Vietnam's (formerly the Republic of Vietnam 1955-1975) literary and journalistic writers were perceived and - potentially - influenced by Western thought, led by thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Martin Heidegger, Hermann Hesse, Edmund Husserl, Stefan Zweig, Graham Greene, and Somerset Maugham. The book reveals the dynamism and diversity of Western thought in individual literary texts, as well as among the authors themselves. The volume considers how writers and their texts engaged with issues that are socially, culturally, politically, and philosophically significant to Vietnam and beyond, past and present. This approach to South Vietnam's literary and journalistic tradition enables an alternative plural, inclusive view of the significance of these texts, which are shown to be neither exclusively anti-Communist nor "bourgeois individualist" (cá nhân tiểu tư sản), as they have so often been interpreted both in and outside of Vietnam. Such an interpretation problematically retains the marginal position of South Vietnam's literature in mainstream Vietnamese literature, and in the literatures of the host countries where these Vietnamese authors have migrated, settled, and continued to write following the 'Fall of Saigon'. This volume presents itself as a key text for those studying Asian and postcolonial literatures, as well as scholars in the humanities researching Vietnam - its history, politics, society, and culture.

Literature: history & criticism
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United States
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