le 14 juillet

Lucy Nguyen — An Unexpected Clash
Lucy Nguyen and Pham Van Ky

I know a family in deep France that stays inside with the curtains drawn on Bastille Day because they were on the wrong side of the Revolution. Nearly everyone in Viet Nam and many Americans who study that country feel the same way about France all year long.

Get over it. You cannot understand Ho Chi Minh and the generations of intellectuals who made modern Viet Nam without sharing their love of freedom, equality, and brotherhood.

It was the betrayal in Indochine of these universal French ideals that drove such as Vo Nguyen Giap and Pham Van Dong into nonsense. It didn’t have to be that way, and it wasn’t always for all Indochinese.

Illustration from Customs, 1935, for "Philosophy" chapter of Going to France by Nhat Linh.
Read Nhat Linh’s Going to France where the author observes his fellow passengers treating him less and less like an animal as the boat approaches Marseilles, where he is a man. Walk the streets of Paris and read the brass plaques with Vietnamese names of doctors, lawyers and merchants bolted to the walls.

Read the tradition of French in Viet Nam and Vietnamese in French. Today I recommend the work of Pham Van Ky and his scholar Lucy Nguyen, introduced by the Jason Rainey comic above.

Please note that the Nhat Linh essay downloads very slowly.

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