Nam Xương (1905-1958) was an essayist, engineer and playwright. He was best known for his satirical plays, most notably his 1930 comedy Chàng Ngốc (The Young Idiot), and Ông Tây An-Nam (The Frenchman from Annam), which was published in 1931.
Nam Xương was born Nguyễn Cát Ngạc in Bắc Ninh province. As a young man, he attended French-medium schools and was selected to attend a French Civil Engineering School. He took a position in an engineering firm for a time while continuing his writing. In the early 1930s, he wrote a number of essays and articles, including a series of articles in the magazine An Nam Tập Chí (The Annam Review) in 1932, and an additional play La xen Tông-ky-noa in 1935. Most of his non-fiction writing concerned either elements of Vietnamese grammar or the issues of Vietnamese students returning from study in France. In the 1940s, Nam Xương became politically active, participating with the Việt Minh in the August Revolution of 1945 and joining the Việt Minh in 1948. He continued to be involved in the political activities of the party at least through 1954, when he moved to Saigon. He died in Saigon in 1958.
Nam Xương's two major plays were both attempts to reproduce the style of seventeenth-century French farces. In particular, he was influenced by the dramatist and actor Molière and his play Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), about a hypochondriac who is convinced that he is ill when he is not. Nam Xương adopted Molière's technique of using follies and a sense of the ridiculous to create social criticism.
Wynn Wilcox started this entry.
- Phan Kế Hoành and Huỳnh Lý, Bước đầu tìm hiểu lịch sử kịch nói Việt Nam trước cách mạng tháng tám. (Hanoi: Văn hóa, 1978): 109.
- Trần Văn Giáp et al (eds.) Lược truyện các tác giả Việt Nam (Hanoi: Khoa Học Xã Hội, 1972): 724.