Translations of masterpiece displayed in Paris

An exhibition featuring translations of Vietnamese masterpiece Truyen Kieu (The Tale of Kieu) opened in Paris as part of the activities to mark poet Nguyen Du’s 255th birthday and commemorate his 200th death anniversary.

The exhibition entitled Kim Van Kieu và Cac Ban Dich (Kim Van Kieu & Translations) includes over 100 book titles with 70 translations in 21 different languages.

Among these is the first translation in French by the orientalist Professor Abel des Michels in 1884.

“The exhibition is being held to commemorate Nguyen Du, who is regarded as one of the greatest Vietnamese poets,” Ambassador Tran Thi Hoang Mai, head of the Vietnamese Permanent Delegation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), said.

“A UNESCO Resolution in 2013 pledged to work with Vietnam to celebrate Nguyen Du’s 250th birthday at UNESCO's headquarter and many other places around the world.

“People whose birth anniversaries have been celebrated in association with UNESCO are eminent personalities who made great contributions to world culture, education and science. Nguyen Du is among them.”

Nguyen Du (1765 – 1820) was honoured in 1965 by the World Peace Council, along with eight others, for his devotion to Vietnamese literature and world culture.

He was also recognised as a World Cultural Figure by UNESCO at its 37th General Conference session in Paris in 2013.

French and Vietnamese people attended the exhibition opening including Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Thiep, Professor and Southeast Asia researcher Pascal Bourdeaux, and Paris-based literature researcher Nguyen Song Huong.

The exhibition is being held at the Vietnam Centre in France with support from Vietnamese researchers living there. 

“This is the first time that the most complete translations have been shown with 73 versions,” said researcher Huong.

“It is a difficult process because the translations are very old and not many are left. Most of the translations are outside Vietnam.”

Over the past 140 years, generations of translators and poets have constantly overcome difficulties and obstacles in language and culture to convey The Tale of Kieu in various languages, bringing the Vietnamese masterpiece to the world.

A set of stamps commemorating Nguyen Du’s 200th death anniversary and a painting by Vietnamese-French Ngoc Thanh are also on display.

A short documentary titled Nguyen Du With the Hometown of Ha Tinh made by Ha Tinh Television Station is being screened at the exhibition.

The exhibition will run until September 26 at the Sudestasie bookstore in District 5, Paris.

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