French,English version of “Tale of Luc Van Tien” hit shelves

Color illustrations of Luc Van Tien (The Tale of Luc Van Tien), an epic poem by Nguyen Dinh Chieu written in nom (the old Chinese-based Vietnamese script) in the 1850s has just been released nationwide.

Book manuscript’s author is a Lieutenant in the French Artillery named Eugene Gibert who lived in Viet Nam from 1895 to 1897. He came to know Luc Van Tien through the French translation of the Vietnamese version of Abel des Michels in 1883. Gibert asked a Vietnamese painter, Le Duc Trach, to illustrate the poem. Two years later, Gibert went back to France and decided to offer this book to the academy in Paris in 1899.

In November 2011, Professor Phan Huy Le, on a visit to the Academy of Inscriptions and Letters in Paris, discovered quite by chance several precious documents in the academy's archives and found a book illustrating the folk story.

After a joint-research by Vietnamese and French scholars,the École française d'Extrême-Orient ( EFEO-the Academy of the Far East) cooperated with the Ho Chi Minh City Culture–Literature and Arts Publishing House to release a set of two books consisting of three parts, including illustrated narrative poetry, Gibert’s annotation and narrative poetry.

Books have been released in French, Vietnamese and English languages.

By Xuan Than – Translated by Kim Khanh

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