This essay addresses the controversial reception of Bảo Ninh’s novel Nỗi buồn chiến tranh [The Sorrow of War] in Vietnam and argues that the novel was perhaps the most important fictional work since Đổi Mới [Renovation]. By overlooking the tenets of socialist realism, the book deals with the war and its aftermath with a candor, eloquence, and anguish that have no parallel in modern Vietnamese literature. The novel’s important questions—memory, time, and writing—can be explained in light of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope.
Writing to Remember: The Chronotope of Memory and Time in Bảo Ninh’s Nỗi buồn chiến tranh [The Sorrow of War]
Qui-Phiet Tran is Emeritus Professor of English at Schreiner University in Kerville, Texas. In 2000 he was appointed as US Fulbright scholar to Vietnam National University, Hồ Chí Minh City. Part of this essay draws upon a paper entitled “Beyond the ‘Numb Stare’: Asian Dimensions in Bao Ninh’s Noi buon chien tranh (The Sorrow of War),” which was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Los Angeles, California, March 24–27, 1993.
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Qui-Phiet Tran; Writing to Remember: The Chronotope of Memory and Time in Bảo Ninh’s Nỗi buồn chiến tranh [The Sorrow of War]. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 November 2019; 14 (4): 40–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2019.14.4.40
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