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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Machinery of Vietnamese Art and Literature in the Post-Renovation, Post-Communist (and Post-Modern) Period

  • Author(s): Pham, Thi Hoai
  • et al.

The Renovation literary movement in Vietnam began in 1986, reached its peak in 1988-1989 and had no official conclusion. The concept of “post-Renovation” used in my talk refers to the period from the mid 1990s until today.Up to the mid 1990s, the legitimate parameters of the literary field were marked by invisible flags which Vietnamese writers had been well trained to perceive. This field was the most spacious that Vietnamese literature had ever enjoyed with two important exceptions: literature from the late colonial era of 1930 – 1945 and Southern literature prior to 1975. In the post-Renovation era, the basic rule is that: “You can do whatever you want as long as you avoid politics.” This clever agreement facilitates living together in peace and allows both sides to avoid the kinds of conflicts that occurred in the past and that neither side wants to repeat. This rule allows writers to commit themselves completely to art, a position which used to be criticized and was even banned for a time. In Vietnam, the practice of segregating literature from politics has a stature akin to the separation of church and state.

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