Vu Ky

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Vũ Ký (6 January 1921, Quang Nam — 14 November 2008, Brussels) [1] was an internationally renowned Vietnamese writer, researcher, journalist, author, and teacher, whose lifelong works aim to preserve and highlight the Vietnamese culture, tradition, and literature. Vũ Ký was also a revolutionary soldier, dissident, and prisoner of three different political regimes, using only words as his weapons to protest against colonialism, communism, and dictatorship. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, he was incarcerated three times in the Communist's re-education camps, and all his works are banned in Vietnam. [3]

Life and Career

Vũ Ký was born in 1921 in the province of Quảng Nam,Vietnam. During a span of more than 4 decades, Vũ Ký had published numerous stories, newspaper articles, and literary criticism for magazines worldwide: 26 books of various types; traveler's diaries, notes, novels, and research. Writing in Vietnamese and French, most of his works comprise of essays on Vietnamese literature and culture. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 2003, his research studies on Vietnamese literature and culture have been used as standard references in many libraries throughout Europe and the US. [2] In his article on the Bulletin, "Nobel Calling", Jonathan Murphy wrote, "In Japan, Vu Ky would be classed a national treasure. [3]

In 1942, he studied at the Faculty of Law, Vietnam National University, Hanoi University of Hanoi. While attending university, he began his teaching career in 1943 at the Lycee Louis Pasteur Ha Noi, Vien Minh school, Phan Chu Trinh (Hoi An, Quang Nam), Quốc Học Huế, Petrus Ky, and other schools at Saigon, a career spanning almost 3 decades from 1946 to 1976. Vũ Ký also started his journalism career by writing articles to Đàn Bà (Women) Magazine in Ha Noi. After 1954, his articles appeared in various newspapers and magazines such as Bách Khoa, Mai, Sống, Văn Nghệ Tiền Phong, Đại Dân Tộc, Chính Luận, in which he discoursed on current national and Central Vietnam events. From 1958 to 1965, he worked as a writer for Radio Saigon, directing the program Diễn đàn thi văn (Poetry Forum). He also served on the committee responsible for the Vietnamese Dictionary in the Republic of Vietnam's National Education Board. [4]

Vũ Ký joined the Vietnam Quoc Dan Dang revolutionary party in 1946 in its fight for independence from French colonial rules. He served as an advisor to the anti-communist National Front of Inter-Region 5 until he was arrested in 1948 and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Viet Minh, Ho chi Minh's Communist-dominated organization. He was released from prison in 1954 following the Geneva Conference (1954). Vũ Ký then joined anti-dictatorship groups and was exiled to Phu Quoc prison island from 1955 to 1958. [2]

Following the fall of South Vietnam at the end of April of 1975, he was incarcerated three times by the Communists and kept in re-education camps. In 1978, due to the intervention of the Belgium government, he was released from internment, and in 1980, Vũ Ký and his family resettled in Belgium until he passed away in November of 2008. In June of 2000, Vu Ky detailed his experiences in the re-education camps in the yet-to-be-published short story, Chuỗi Ngọc đứt rời (The Broken Rosary). Even though he was not a Catholic at the time, Vũ Ký described how his devotion and prayers to Mary with an old rosary that was given to him as a gift in 1962 had helped him to survive the harrowing ordeals of prison camps. In 1981, with the help of a long time friend, Fr. Cao Văn Luân, Vũ Ký and his wife, Hồng Hạnh, entered into the Catholic Church in Brussels, Belgium. In his interview with Jonathan Murphy, Vũ Ký credited his faith and his wife with helping him through the darkest days of his life. He said, "I'm a Catholic, and my religion kept me going through some terrible times. That and my wife. We’ve been married for 60 years, and without her support I'd have given up hope many times. There’s a good message. Love”. [3]

After immigrating to Belgium, Vũ Ký worked with the French-language daily newspaper Le Soir in Brussels, and served as an examiner at international high school graduation exams in Geneva and London. He was a lecturer at the Vietnamese Socio-Cultural Center in Brussels and a member of the Writers' Association of Belgium (Sabam). He continued to revise and update his books, and wrote essays for Vietnamese magazines and newspapers in Europe, Australia, and the US. Vũ Ký carried on his fight against the communist regime in Vietnam through his writings in newspapers, and with his involvement in preserving the Vietnamese Literature history and culture for the conscience of the younger generation growing up in exile. [5]

Notable Works and Honors

Three of Vũ Ký's most recent and best received books are: Luận-củỏng về văn-hóa Việt-Nam (An Analytical Study of Vietnamese Culture); Nghệ thuật Viết Văn và đọc Văn (The Art of Literary Writing and Reading); and Về Nguồn (Back to the Origin). Several of his books can be found at public libraries in California. According to Dr. Lam Le Trinh, The Art of Literary Writing and Reading and An Analytical Study of Vietnamese Culture, "have been widely accepted as basic material for researchers and students of Vietnamese culture throughout the ages...They provide a masterful description of Vietnam and out, and points to a global reform of culture and education in post-communist Vietnam".[2]

In May of 1982, Vũ Ký was requested by Yale University to join its Council on Southeast Asian Studies, and to submit his works, such as Đạo làm người của Nguyễn Công Trứ, as part of its efforts to preserve the Vietnamese culture and literature after the end of the Vietnam War. In 2003, he was honored by the Vietnamese Socio-Cultural Center in Brussels. [7] His book, Việt-văn toàn-thư, tú tài l ban A.B.C.D (The Complete Vietnamese Language Reference for the Baccalaureate Examination Level I), was selected to be the basis for research into Vietnamese literature at the University of Hawaii since 1966. [4]

In 2003, Vũ Ký was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature by Minh Hoai Duc Trinh, president of the US-based Overseas Vietnamese International Pen Club. He was also selected as an outstanding Vietnamese by the author of the books, The Pride of the Vietnamese, for his valuable contributions to the achievements of the Vietnamese refugees around the world. [8]. In 2008, Vietnam Nostalgia, a compilation of short stories translated into English, was published and remains the only English publication of his works.

Published Works [6]

  • Văn Học Việt Nam (Vietnamese Literature), published by A Chau, 3rd edition, 1972
  • Những Vấn đề lớn trong Văn Học Việt Nam (Major Issues in Vietnamese Literature), published by Tri Dang, 1974
  • Đạo làm người của Nguyễn Công Trứ (The Way to be a Man according to Nguyễn Công Trứ), published by Kim Y., 1963 and Que Huong, 1989
  • Các nhà văn, nhà thơ Việt Nam và Thế giới (Vietnamese and International Writers and Poets), published by Kim Y., 1983
  • Đạo làm người của Nguyễn Khuyến (The Way to be a Man according to Nguyễn Khuyến), published by Tan Viet, 1960
  • Nghị luận Văn học (Literary Essays, 4 books), published by Van Hoc Tung Thu, 1963; Duong Sang, 1966; Song Moi, 1968; Tri Dang, 1973
  • Muốn sống hạnh phúc (to Live Happily), published by Khai Tri, 1971
  • Yêu Sống (Love To Live), co-author with Chu Tu, published by Khai Tri, 1963
  • Việt văn Toàn thư (An Anthology of Vietnamese Literature), published by Song Moi, 1968
  • Việt Nam Văn Học Lược Sử (A Concise History of Vietnamese Literature), published by Tri Dang, 1974
  • Ấn tượng Một thời (Impressions of a Time),published by Hung Dao, 1991
  • Truyện và Ký (Stories and Notes), published by Me Kong Ti Nan, 1992
  • Luận cương về Văn hóa Việt Nam (An Analytical Study of Vietnamese Culture - books 1&2), published by the Vietnamese Socio-Cultural Center in Brussels, Belgium, 1997; 2nd edition, published in USA, 1998
  • Nghệ thuật Viết Văn và đọc Văn (The Art of Literary Writing and Reading), 5 editions, published by Quang Da, 1946; Pham Van Tuoi, 1957; Khai tri, 1962; Presses Universitaires, Brussels, 1985; Nguon Song, USA, 1999
  • Về Nguồn (Back to the Origin), published by the Vietnamese Buddhist Socio-Cultural Center, Germany, 2002
  • La Culture vietnamienne et sa destinée (Vietnamese Culture and its destiny), published by the Vietnamese Socio-Cultural Center in Brussels, Belgium, 1995
  • Le Tet et ses conférences (Tet and its conferences), published by the Vietnamese Socio-Cultural Center in Brussels, Belgium, 1996
  • Rapport aux générations futures (Report for future generations), published by the Vietnamese Socio-Cultural Center in Brussels, Belgium, 2003
  • Vietnam Nostalgia, San Jose, USA, 2008. ISBN 978-0-615-36452-0

Translations [6]

  • Hồi ký của một Chú lừa (Diary of a Donkey), with Vu Khac Vinh, from the original Les Mémoires d'un àne by the Comtesse de Ségur, published by Tri Dung, 1974
  • Con phải sống (You Must Live), from the original Tu seras un homme by Fabien Simmon, published by Tri Dung, 1974
  • Tuổi dậy thì (Puberty), from the original La Disubbidienza by Alberto Moravia, published by An Tiem, 1975

Yet to be published works Ky,Vu (2000). Chuỗi Ngọc đứt rồi (The Broken Rosary)

On Line Articlesương-Vĩnh-Ký—nhà-thông-thái-và-nhà-giáo-dục&s=ab8d414d88e7a111a52abb340bb67e4e

Libraries Listings

• “Đạo làm người Nguyên Công Trứ” • “Việt-văn toàn-thư, tú tài l ban A.B.C.D : soạn theo chương-trình mời Bộ Quồc-Gia”

Truỵên và Ký

• “Luận-củỏng về văn-hóa Việt-Nam. Tập I & II”



[2] Ky, Vu (2008). Vietnam Nostalgia. Introduction by Nguyen Xuan Vinh, Ph.D. (Aero), D.Sc.(Math), Professor of Emeritus of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, USA, San Jose, USA. ISBN 978-0-615-36452-0

[3] Murphy, Jonathan. Nobel Calling, The Bulletin (Brussels weekly), Brussels, 22 May 2003

[4] Ky, Vu (1991). Ấn tượng Một thời. Introduction by Dr. Hoang Do

[5] Mahieddine, Farah. Depuis Auderghem, il lutte contre le régime vietnamien, La Capitale (Belgique), Brussels, October 20, 2003, [1]</ref>

[6] Ky, Vu (2008). Vietnam Nostalgia, San Jose, USA. ISBN 978-0-615-36452-0 [7] Trung Tâm Văn Hóa Xã Hội Việt Nam tại Bruxelles Vinh Danh Giáo Sư Học Giã Vũ Ký [8] Minh, Trong (2003). The Pride of the Vietnamese, Garden Grove, CA