This volume is a comprehensive study of Vietnam’s greatest and most controversial 20th century writer who died tragically in 1939 at the age of 28. Vu Trong Phung is known for a remarkable collection of politically provocative novels and sensational works of non-fiction reportage that were banned by the communist state from 1960 to 1986.
Leading Vietnam scholar, Zinoman, resurrects the life and work of an important intellectual and author in order to reveal a neglected political project that is excluded from conventional accounts of modern Vietnamese political history. He sees Vu Trong Phung as a leading proponent of a localized republican tradition that opposed colonialism, communism, and unfettered capitalism—and that led both to the banning of his work and to the durability of his popular appeal in Vietnam today.
List of Illustrations
1. Sources of Vu Trong Phung’s Colonial Republicanism
2. Capitalism and Social Reform
3. The Question of Communism
4. The Crisis of Vietnamese Sexuality
5. Banning Vu Trong Phung
Peter Zinoman is Professor of History and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley; author of The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam, 1862-1940 (UC Press, 2001); and cotranslator of Dumb Luck: A Novel by Vu Trong Phung.
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“Vietnamese Colonial Republican is the best single study of a major twentieth-century Southeast Asian writer, and his critical relationship to both the colonial and postcolonial eras, known to me. It offers an unsurpassed discussion of the complexities of colonial modernity and their troubled Cold War aftermath.” —Alexander Woodside, author of Community and Revolution in Modern Vietnam
“Peter Zinoman and Vu Trong Phung are two gadflies who were meant for each other. In this wonderfully researched and beautifully crafted biography, Zinoman introduces us to the short productive life and extraordinary times of modern Vietnam’s greatest writer. Vu Trong Phung’s social critiques earned him the opprobrium of communists and colonialists in the 1930s, but the themes he explored remain as relevant today as ever. And as always, Zinoman argues provocatively: Phung serves as a case study in how French Republicanism worked itself out in fascinating ways in the empire. Neither Zinoman nor his subject disappoint.” —Christopher Goscha, author of Going Indochinese: Contesting Concepts of Space and Place in French Indochina.
“In Vietnamese Colonial Republican, Peter Zinoman gives three important contributions to the study of modern Vietnam. First, he proposes a new interpretation of debates among intellectuals in the interwar period; his exposition of ‘colonial republicanism’ is a fresh and compelling alternative to the version of modern politics that primarily focuses upon the Vietnamese communists. Second, his analysis of the work of Vu Trong Phung greatly expands our view of literature, thought, and culture in the 1930s. Third, his discussion of ‘reform communism’ offers a fresh vantage on Hanoi politics in the late 1950s. This professionally documented work is clear and readable, yet full of substance.” —Keith Weller Taylor, author of The Birth of Vietnam.
Source : University of California Press