Vietnamese-German version of Truyen Kieu launched in Berlin

A bilingual version of the Truyen Kieu (Kieu Tale), a Vietnamese masterpiece from the 18th century, was launched in Berlin on May 1.

The Vietnamese-German book was printed by the The Gioi Publishing House in Hanoi. Some 750 copies were shipped to Berlin.

“Kieu Tale was composed by Nguyen Du. He and German author Goethe were contemporaries 200 hundreds year ago,” Truong Hong Quang, doctor of linguistics, said at the book launch.

“The work is a literary and a linguistic symbol of Vietnam. The book has been translated into 20 languages.”

Quang had also compared Nguyen Du’s Kieu Tale with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust in his research many years ago.

“As long as Kieu Tale endures, the Vietnamese language shall exist,” Quang was quoted as saying by Vietnamese scholar Pham Quynh.

The bilingual book titled Das Madchen Kieu is based on a German version by the late couple Irene and Franz Faber. The book was designed by Angelika Schulze and its cover was illustrated by artist Claudia Viet Duc Brochers.

Faber, a former journalist, was presented the Kieu Tale by President Ho Chi Minh during his visit to Vietnam in 1955. This bilingual version in Vietnamese and French comprises two volumes with 471 pages and was published in 1951.

Faber and his wife spent seven years studying the Vietnamese language to translate The Tale of Kieu into German so it could be introduced to the German people.

For the past 50 years, Faber keep the book safely and later presented it to the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Kieu was published in German for the first time in 1964 in East Germany. It was reprinted in 1980.

“The bilingual Kieu is a meaningful gift for expatriate Vietnamese parents in Germany who are helping their children read and understand a masterpiece of Vietnamese literature,” Dr Nguyen Viet Duc, from the Vietnamese Business Association in Germany, said at the ceremony.

The association is sponsoring this event being held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Germany and the 250th birth anniversary of Nguyen Du.

At the ceremony, the attendees, both Vietnamese and Germans, watched a short film about the book publishing project featuring artist Brocher’s idea to illustrate the book cover. Brochers is a close relative of Faber and is also heir to Faber’s posthumous manuscript.

Nguyen Du was born in January 3, 1766. He is the first Vietnamese to be honoured as a world cultural celebrity by the World Peace Council in 1965 to mark celebrations on his 200th birth anniversary. He also received the honorary title Man of Culture by the UNESCO Great Council in 2015, for the second time. 

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