Between East and West : a study of selected works by Vietnamese Francophone writers from 1930 to 1990
As a subject of research, Vietnamese Francophone literature has remained relatively unexplored. There are only two major works, and a number of articles, on the subject. The two works, both theses which appeared in 1982, are Jack A. Yeager's The Vietnamese Novel in French, a general overview of the Vietnamese Francophone novel, and a thesis by Nguyen Hong Nhiem on the writer Pham Van Ky. My purpose in this thesis is to focus on four primary themes which particularly distinguish the Vietnamese Francophone novel, and to analyse a number of novels in the light of these four themes. I will examine sixteen novels by twelve writers. The earliest is Bà-Dâm, published in 1930, and the latest Retour à la saison des pluies, published in 1990. The first theme is the influence of the Vietnamese classic, the Kim-Van-Kieu, on these modern novels. The second theme is the portrayal of women, the double colonization of women within a colonial and post-colonial context. I will contrast a woman writer, Ly Thu Ho, with a prominent male writer, Pham Van Ky. The third theme is the nature of interracial relationships, in particular between Vietnamese men and Frenchwomen. The last theme is alienation: alienation within the self and within one's environment. The novels are the writers' individual response to the dilemma of being Vietnamese writing in French. In examining them, one must move beyond the concept of a conflict between East and West. The novels reveal the influence of both East and West. They are an amalgamation of Eastern and Western elements: philosophical, cultural, and literary. They express an interplay of both thoughts and words across cultures.