Literary Giant of the Past Published In Romania

A collection of 64 poems by Vietnam’s greatest poetess, Ho Xuan Huong, has been published in Romania. The poetry was translated by the writer Constantin Lupeanu, Romania’s Ambassador to Viet Nam from 2000 and 2004, who also edited the 150-page book in Vietnamese and Romanian.

Portrait of Ho Xuan Huong

Because most of Ho Xuan Huong’s poems are full of insinuations and literal and figurative senses entwined, they can be very difficult to translate into another language.

When he was compiling the book, Mr. Lupeanu read English and French versions of the poems and heavily researched the period when the poet lived.

He looked for words, phrases and sentences bearing similar meanings in two languages and took great pains to transmit the deep thoughts contained in every line of verse.

The editor has included sections on Viet Nam 200 years ago, the origin of Chu Nom (an ancient Vietnamese script using Chinese characters), and its role in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people so that the reader can better understand the poetry.

Four other Vietnamese literary classics have been translated into Romanian to date: Ho Chi Minh’s “Prison Diary”, again by Constantin Lupeanu, as well as “Duong vo xu Nghe quanh quanh” (the tortuous way to Nghe An), “Kham pha Viet Nam” (Viet Nam discovery) and “Nhat Ky Dang Thuy Tram” (diary of Dang Thuy Tram).

Another translator of Ho Xuan Huong, Professor John Balaban of the University of North Carolina, took ten years to complete “Spring Essence”, a book that includes 49 of her poems in English.

“I really admire her lingual talent as well as the bravery of this woman in a feudal society and her thirst for love. When I was writing the book I received much help from my Vietnamese friend,” Professor Balaban said.

Ho Xuan Huong (1772-1822) was born in the dying days of the Le Dynasty in Quynh Doi, a village in Nghe An province.

She was ahead of her time. She knew how to use her brains to denounce hypocrisy and absurdity and dared to revolt against prohibitions and taboos for the liberalization of women in a severe feudal society.

The prominent modern poet Xuan Dieu dubbed her the "Queen of Nom Poetry".

Sources VNA, TT – Translated by Kim Khanh

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