The Tale of Kieu as Postcolonial Classic


Summary: The Tale of Kieu, a verse novel written by Nguyen Du in 1813, has long been known to Southeast Asian scholars as the supreme incarnation of 19th century Vietnamese literature. This essay argues that Kieu deserves to be considered one of the masterpieces of world literature, the equal of Pushkin's immortal Eugene Onegin and the verse classics of Goethe and Schiller. Themes include nation-state formation in East Asia, mercantilism and colonialism, symbolic capital and literati culture, national realism and national allegory.

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