|A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF WESTERN AND
VIETNAMESE MODERN POETRY
DINH MINH HANG
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the
requirements of the University of Bolton
for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Chapter 1 8
From Imagism to Surrealism and their Initial Influences on Vietnamese Poetry 8
Chapter 2 30
From Japanese Haiku Poetry to Ezra Pound’s Poetry in Haiku Form 30
Chapter 3 53
Experimental Poetry and its Effects on Vietnamese Innovative Poets 53
Chapter 4 91
Symbolism, Baudelaire and the Vietnamese ‘New Poetry Movement’ 91
Chapter 5 125
Gertrude Stein’s Writings and the Possible Influences of Tender Buttons in Vietnamese Poetry 125
Chapter 6 154
Surrealist Theory in the case of René Magritte, Mina Loy and Surrealism in Vietnam 154
Bibliography and translations with brief commentary on Vietnamese poets discussed in the thesis. 243
This thesis moves from a study of poetic theory to poetic practice and examines the interaction between Western and Vietnamese poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in relation to specific issues, forms and individual poets.
As a Vietnamese student studying in England, I have found at least two main areas of interest and concern: one is the impact of Western poetry on Vietnamese poetry, and the other is the acknowledgement by some Western poets that they have been profoundly influenced by Eastern writing. With my native awareness of Eastern ideologies in poetry, I also examine non-Western literary traditions and avant-garde approaches in the light of these parallels. To the best of my knowledge, no previous research has ever been conducted in this area.
In Chapter 1, Western theories and the practice of Imagism are considered. These are crucial areas in terms of offering a new approach to East-West borrowing, understanding and misunderstanding. Chapter 2 compares Imagist poetry with Haiku, a Japanese traditional form, and proposes a way of understanding Pound’s Imagist poems according to Zen and Eastern culture. Chapters 3 and 4 indicate parallel Western and Eastern innovations in literature and society in Vietnam from the 1930s onwards. I find that there have been different ‘wars’ in modern Vietnamese poetry as Vietnamese poets have struggled with ‘writing a poem’ and ‘being a poet’. Those ‘wars’ are between ancient Chinese poetry and Vietnamese script poetry; between Eastern ideologies of morality and beauty and Western concepts of freedom in poetry; between traditional Vietnamese poetry and Thơ mới (‘New Poetry Movement’) in Vietnam, which was influenced by French Symbolism; and the resistance of Vietnamese ‘poetic rules’ to the shocks that Dada, conceptual arts and American Experimental poetry brought to Vietnam. Chapter 5 studies Gertrude Stein’s writing as a suggested innovative technique for Vietnamese poets. Chapter 6 compares and contrasts Mina Loy with a visual artist, René Magritte; here, surrealist concepts of subjects and objects are considered alongside feminist poetry in Vietnam as suggestions for breaking through the mediaeval ideologies and prejudice of modern Vietnamese poetry.
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the University of Bolton, School of the Arts, Research and Graduate School, The University of Bolton library, and the Immigration and Welfare office for great supports to my research.
I would like to send my most sincere gratitude to Professor Jon Glover, my first supervisor, whose each lecture was a suggestive and joyful academic journey, whose encouragement became one of the most motivating in my PhD life. From his most patient and inspiring supervision, I understand and receive an extreme enthusiasm in Western poetry, by which I hope to contribute to my national Vietnamese modern poetry.
I wish to gratefully acknowledge my second supervisor Professor Michael Schmidt for his precious supervision and suggestions in my writing and translation work.
I would like to convey my gratitude to Professor David Rudd, who first accepted my research proposal and showed generous support in my academic procedure.
I wish to special thank Professor Makiko Minow-Pinkney and Mr. Paul Rowe for their initial supervisions and willingness to support in my study.
I save each poetry group meeting time in our familiar Research room with Professor Glover and my fellow PhD students: Dr. Stella Pye, Dr. Phil Isherwood, and Dr. Owen Lowery as among the best moments in my life, in which I lived in their poems and their contributed academic suggestions. Thank you all indeed.
I wish to express my gratitude to the Vietnamese Government for awarding me the PhD Scholarship, the Department of International Education in Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training and Vietnamese Embassy for supporting me during my research in the United Kingdom, Hanoi National University of Education for introducing me to this award and my Vietnamese supervisors and fellow lecturers in Faculty of Philology for their encouragement for me to pursue the PhD.
I owe my family and friends for their unconditional caring and supporting. I wish to specially thank my father Dinh Van Son, my mother Pham Thai Ha, my husband Nguyen Anh Tu, my sister Dinh Phuong Hoa, my uncle Dinh Van Thien, my relatives in Bac Ninh home province, Dr. Pham Trong Nghia, and Ms. Anita Parmar.
I dedicate this thesis to Dr. Stella Pye, whom I regard as my Grandmother in the United Kingdom and my daughter Daisy, who showed me how to make ‘challenges into opportunities’.
Thank you all from my heart!