Question in reverse style and the inspiration of self-claim in Nguyen Khuyen poems

Abstract. After 1884, by the “Coming back turning-point”, the works of Nguyen Khuyen had faithfully traced the transformations of art ideology/concept and the writing style of one of the final classical writers of the late of medieval period: from the human merging ideology changing to the ideology of “advantage” with a lot of conflicts and regressions, from the inspiration of epic of cheering changing to the inspiration of tragedy self-claim, from supporting style (theme) changing to full emotion – question in revers style (theme), from traditional romatic writing style changing to humourous self-checking for adjustment writing style. This paper concentrates to one of the above mentioned remarkable styles, question in revers style – the inspiration of self-claim, thought we are aware of the interference/mixing between the question in reverse style and humourous style is the major factor that defines the writing style of Nguyen Khuyen.

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HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1067.2017-0032 Social Sci., 2017, Vol. 62, Iss. 5, pp. 47-55 This paper is available online at QUESTION IN REVERSE STYLE AND THE INSPIRATION OF SELF-CLAIM IN NGUYEN KHUYEN POEMS Tran Thi Hoa Le The Faculty of Philology, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. After 1884, by the “Coming back turning-point”, the works of Nguyen Khuyen had faithfully traced the transformations of art ideology/concept and the writing style of one of the final classical writers of the late of medieval period: from the human merging ideology changing to the ideology of “advantage” with a lot of conflicts and regressions, from the inspiration of epic of cheering changing to the inspiration of tragedy self-claim, from supporting style (theme) changing to full emotion – question in revers style (theme), from traditional romatic writing style changing to humourous self-checking for adjustment writing style. This paper concentrates to one of the above mentioned remarkable styles, question in revers style – the inspiration of self-claim, thought we are aware of the interference/mixing between the question in reverse style and humourous style is the major factor that defines the writing style of Nguyen Khuyen. Keywords:Nguyen Khuyen, Question in reverse, Self-claim, Middle ages literature. 1. Introduction Since the early of XX century up to date, researchs on Nguyen Khuyen (1835 – 1909) have been gained significally achievements. Scientists and researchers highly respected the Tam Nguyen (triple successes of the first rank) of Yen Do village by different familiar titles, for example: “an outstanding Vietnamese poet” [7], “The poet of Vietnamese people in country side” [2], “classical poet . . . that initiated the changes of the symbolized meaning of the system of ancient poetic” [1;155]. . . Most of the researchs recorgnized the humorous laughs that are unique in Nguyen Khuyen’s poems. Furthermore, question in reverse – inspiration of self-claim is rung as a rhythm of “polyphony” style in his poems. The welknown researchers such as, Nguyen Hue Chi, Tran Dinh Su, Bien Minh Dien have agreed a primary statement – “. . . the combination that transformed the opposite factors of his poems: comedy but sad, romantic but irony,. . . though of the life but self-claim. . . ” [1;39]; “Nguyen Khuyen step on the stage of self-irony, self-negating. . . ” [1;155]; Nguyen Khuyen poems are typical of “self-claim orientation, humorous and realtime negating” in literature during the late of XIX century” [4;61]. . . - those are the key motivations for us to work out with this paper. Received date: 10/1/2017. Published date: 3/5/2017. Contact: Tran Thi Hoa Le, e-mail: tranhoale1968@gmail.com 47 Tran Thi Hoa Le 2. Contents Keeping in mind the progress of academic and political life of Nguyen Khuyen (1835 – 1909), it is shown clearly the remarkable swerves of the time and the life of Tam nguyen Yen Do (examinee of Yen Do with triple first rank successes). The whole his youth time have been steadily devoted to swot. When he archived the highest academic rank, taken the position of an authority officer and with great inspiration served the empire of King and being a filial son to his parents, at the same time the fate of country had been decayed, the empire had became a wooden puppet. Through out ten years being an authority officer, the most success man had just implementing the duties as an intermediate rank officer (outreach officer: education suppervisor, Deputy mayor, Director), a primary rank officer (Toan tu su quan), in which there ware five years of punishment. During the punishment time, by himself, Nguyen Khuyen had witnessed the crises of the tightness dynasty, the unresolvable conflics and congestions of the such a dynasty – a country that he would desired to served and supported. Being an officer with full of inferior feelling of incompetent and incapable to remunerate to the King, useless for the country. Supporting the right King (Ham Nghi) with the Can Vuong force of people or supporting opposite King (Dong Khanh) to get rid of trouble or finding a temporarily compromise way (following the ideas of renovationism) for changing the country? No bright future could be reach by following any way. The Tam nguyen man finally choosen the way of “resigning”, “returning home” with a constant conscience in his mind and a doubtful puzzle: “Khu quoc khoi vo bang boi tai/ Quy gia vi tat tu ton hien” (leaving the mother land, left friends behind / Back home might be waited with no filial pious child – Cam tac). Nguyen Khuyen literature works reflect a confusedly internal quarrel of a great honorable confucius man who feel depressed and stuffed with the ideal and the future of the his country. Reflect ask style, humourous style, the inspiration of self-claim and a picture of the Northen rural within the context of the consonant of “European rain Asian wind” are the unique and remarkable values of Nguyen Khuyen literature works. All of those values are initiated by the stragedy of his time and his un. . . of “the last classical confucianism scholar” who is very gentle. The archievements of collecting and studying Nguyen Khuyen’s literature works over last century enable us distinguish two separate periods in his writing life, in which the period after resigning from work to come back Yen Do (after 1884) seemed to present all of the shining evidences of his talent in poetry. After coming back Yen Do, the quantity of his poems in Han and Nom all doubled comparing to the earlier period. The form of poem is more various, along with Tang’s poetry rule (seven words eight sentences) there are poems in the form of Co phong, five sentences, rap, Truong thien, double seven and six – eight, . . . Other clear changes are the context and the theme of his poems. The context of poems expanded to different aspects of his personal as well as his time. The theme (rhythm) of admiration and praise are substituted by two main themes (rhythms), including: question in reverse and humorous. These two themes came along with the enhancement of “realistic factors of daily life” of his poems (especialy the poems in Han) and with the inovation in medieval period poetry writing style. It could be said that, after 1884, by “Coming back turning-point”, Nguyen Khuyen’s works had traced faithfully the transform of art ideology/concept and the writing style of the final classical writers of the late of medieval period: from the human merging ideology changing to the ideology of “advantage” with a lot of conflicts and regressions, from 48 Question in reverse style and the inspiration of self-claim in Nguyen Khuyen poems the inspiration of epic of admiration changing to the inspiration of tragedy self-claim, from supporting style (theme) changing to full emotion – question in reverse style (theme), from traditional romatic writing style changing to humourous self-checking for adjustment writing style. “Literature works of Nguyen Khuyen that were written after 1884 present a fine obsevation of different forms of the visual phenomenons of a man that lost his ideal orientation, a man that feels to be disability with his ideal and a man become an meaningless person in implementation his ideal, that is an art view of the people which is more advanced than that of other poets at his age . . . ” [1;140]. A remarkable distingtiveness of Nguyen Khuyen’s literature works would be the change in his perception of art, That is the motivation engendered the features of “Nguyen Khuyen style”, including: question in reverse style – the inspiration of self-claim and a constant internal quarrel; humourous style and the inovation in academic literature works approaching method; the pioneering realistic poet regards Vietnamese rural topics; A talent artist of linguistic and his unique perception of “literature performance”. This paper focuses on analysing one of his previous mentioned remarkable features - question in reverse – the inspiration of self-claim although we recognized the consonant/mixing of question in reverse style and humourous style those are the major factors that create Nguyen Khuyen’s style. Question in reverse poet or Reflect ask theme (rhythm) and the inspiration of self-claim/self-critique are different expressions of a typical feature of the literature works fashion of Nguyen Khuyen. The core meaning of concept of “Question in reverse theme (rhythm)” and “The inspiration of self-claim” is rooted from a form of linguistic that frequently occures in and poses a great obsessive of Nguyen Khuyen’s poems, that is the way in which questions are expressed in the form of “dialogue in reverse”/ “self dialogue”/ “realtime critique”. We could recogize those forms in the works of several outstanding authors of mediaval period. 2.1. “Realtime self-critique” theme It is “Questions in reverse” frequently occure in literature works of Nguyen Khuyen, more or less the type of “rhetorical question” concerns to critical matters of the National/Country at his time as well as the ideal/ the perception of life of a generation of confusianism scholars “final/intermidiate” who faced to the faith of the Country in decay situation. The “dialogue in reverse” system also reflects the “internal self monologue”/ “self dialogue” with full of confused obsessive, which seem never stop in his poems. All the most meaningful questions in reverse are targeted to the country with a desire of harmony that is hiden secretly under a feeling of being disable with the faith of the country. The feeling is presented in almost of his poems of Tang’s poetry rule, such as, historical praise, natural scence praise, four seasons, emotion expression,... With historical praise poems, Vietnamese and Chinese historical Luminaries are primarily praised. They are National heroes in the defence aggressor for country protection, for example Dong Thien vuong, Trung Nu vuong, Tran Hung Dao, Nguyen Trai, Nhac Vu Muc,... or they are the symbol of a tragedy in country reservation, such as Dang Tat, the lesson of losing country such as Tran Hau chu... In Dang Tat eulogy, Nguyen Khuyen applied a parallel questions with the meaning of complain of a stupid king and of critic the disloyal rebel header “Gian Dinh ha nang thanh dai su?/ Moc Thanh ninh bat quy trung hon?” (How King Gian Dinh could success in his role?Moc Thanh rebel should be ashamed comparing 49 Tran Thi Hoa Le to his loyal?). The respect to and feeling sorry for the hero Nhac Phi are converted in to questions in reverse that target to no bound space and no limit time, the only place where could explain the misfortune of a lonely loyal “Thien dia ha tam luu ngoc coi?... Bach nien thyu ninh canh thuy trung?” (What the God have though so as plants with safir fungi are left beside the castle?. . . For Centuries how to distinguishwho is a loyal, who is a toady? – Praise of Nhac VuMuc). On the travelling road for his job, going through different regions of country, Nguyen Khuyen have written many poems to praise the nature. Moreover, on each of his life periods he was feel sorry for the bad situation of the country. Passing through Khoai Chau, hearing the whistle of swallows within a reservoir and under the light of sunset, Nguyen Khuyen wondered to ask himself when people could get back to a peaceful home “An tap quy lai huu ki thi”. Such questions on “great beauty scence of the Earth”, on “phong te tran o” (dusty cyclone) closely attached to a desire of a day that country would be peaceful: Tran gian huyen canh duong ha tu?/ The thuong phu danh vi di phao/ Tien nga sinh lai thap that tue/ Thu hoi nang dac thai binh tao? (What disturbance look like on the land?/ Temporary reputation of life is not easy to get rid of / You were born 17 years ahead of me / Wherether would be peaceful such a time? – To song khe Chi long Si Nhan Le dai – For the classmate, Mr. Le Si Nhan at Chi Long). Questions in reverse on the morality – Nguyen Khuyen’s literature works are dedicated to talk to his children and his close friends, this is where he expose his feeling of bewildement and impasse with the worthlessness of that being time confusianism intelligentsia as well as himself: Duong the van chuong ha so dung?/Lao lai quan dai thuong da tam (In this age, what literature works could be used for?/ Your Your old age brough more shame with court-dress – Xuan nhat thi chu nhi 2); Nhan cung thien vi dinh/Dao tang nga an quy? (Though man ran out of his stratagem but the chance of God is still gloomy/ learning attitude has gone, where would we arrive? – Ky Chau Giang Bui An Nien). Quy dien presented a realworld sight of the “price go down” of literature and intelligentsia in the age of “society disturbance” (from the first rank of four people classes coming down the lowest rank): Nga bat hanh vi si/ Thi thư ha so su? So cau ho y thuc? Bat qua u loi ti (We are intellingentsia unintentionally/ What are Poems worth?/ Just for the meal and dress/ Thus farming should be done hard). The traced scence of a sprint day where a baldaquin is traded by a hundred of dried areca nuts, “confucianism man” angrily complained “Nga van tuy bat giai/ Khoi bat xung tam mach/ Khach mai gia ha liem/Bat xung ga bat dich” (Though my writing is normal/ Till worth more than three coins/ Why buyer paid so cheap?/ Worth is unfair not trading – Doi truong phat khach). Nguyen Khuyen may be one of the first writers those expressed their ridicul of the decay of literature/ learning attitude. That is the age that “writing of Gentle Saint” is faced to bad luck, being not only “down grade” to a commondity but also a valueless and dull commondity. The gentle Tam Nguyen posses a painfull and discomfited view of a person on the board. After 30 years later, this mood is transformed into the nostalgia writing style in Ong Do (the Teacher) of Vu Dinh Lien. The question in reverse of morality – conscience is also a question in reverse of life – career progressive, a behaviour of “dung xa hanh tang”: Dong loai tuong tranh truc phoc truc/ Loi tam vo yem ngu thon ngu/ Kha lien kim nhat thuy vi nganh?/ So di tien nhan duc phe thu/ Ki ngu thanh mon tuong thuc gia/ Phong tran man lo vi quy du? (Fight each other though same creature, bamboo tendon tight bamboo sticks/ So great avarice yielding fish swallow fish/ So poor that, by who this burden activated?/ That was the 50 Question in reverse style and the inspiration of self-claim in Nguyen Khuyen poems reason why the ancients try to ged rid of books/ Sending a message to friends in town/ Road is full of dusty cyclone, why do not come back yet? – Doc than). His advice for his eldest son Nguyen Hoan upon his arrival to career progressive is his way of expressing his feelings about the dangerous trap he and his friends once experienced: Vi huu quan thoi duc to quan/ Huu quan thuy giac to quan nan/ Hoan đao chi di khinh tam trao/ Loi cuc ha nang lanh nhan khan (Not to be an officer want to be/ To be an officer to be aware that it would be so difficult/ Within a pond of bad luck should be over come by the innocence of measure/ Look at benefit with a soulless eyes – Thi tu Hoan); Regarding the conflict between Reputation – Virtue, Benefit - Virtue: Nga di tu quan nhi to quan/ To quan nang hoi tốo vi nan/ Danh cu qua man uu lang tiet/ Si huu nhan ban tha bao quan (Father resigned son get involved to / Difficult is that the way to serve/ Too high reputation seem shade the virtue / If being involved by the poor then try to be a border guard – Xuan nhat thi tu Hoan). Questions in reverse of thought live or dead, it is so funny that the slander busted out when individuals that sacrified for the country facing with a selection. Van te Nguyen Tri Phuong (Nguyen Tri Phuong Funeral oration) was written in free style, no prescriptive rules. The work has an overall structure “selection question” “right or not right”. The feeling of pain and the oration seem deeply submerged in the disorder of though of right – wrong of value/ the meaning of the battle and sacrificing of a smart general with familyname Nguyen - An intellingent General that is the pineer of the fighting side and also one of the four key persons of the Nguyen dynasty during the first difficult period of fighting against French. According to the tradition of the confusianism family, the act of sacrificing to save one’s country has always been highly appreciated due to the notion of “sat than thanh nhan” (commit oneself to save people), “xa than thu nghia” (commit oneself to save rightness). Most of the literary works during the times of fighting off foreign invaders of the Vietnamese celebrated such notions. Howerver, Nguyen Khuyen’s works were an exception compared to those at the time and in the past. In order to write the oration of the General “stately sense of perposes. . . his mind is shiny,. . . the scene is so admirable”, Nguyen Khuyen had to go through much thoughts and interrogation “people saying is disturbance. . . slanderous comparision”. Such questions in revers are the reflection of the complex ideological struggle among the different paths to save the country, the different methods of expressing patriotism which the generate of confusianism scholars with pure sinologue such as Nguyen Dynasty’s Hoang giap had not been able to find a satisfactory answer to. 2.2. “Idividual self-claim” style The question in reverse on one’s condition – Life style is the self-claim of a retired mandarin who presummed to settle himself in his base in a country side but infact his mind does not stop worry about conscience, personality, about the behavior as well as the ego: Luc da quy lai tu ngu ki/Ba ba bach phat phuc ha vi?/. . . Vi tri lai the thuy vi nga/Dao thu phong luu da thi thuy? (Almost Five years has passed since coming back to the paddle field/What could I do with my grey hair?/. . . It is not clear I will be afterlife?/ And who shall be a prosperous man at that time? - Tu thuat); Thien nien khu hac nga ha than? (Transposing into flying flamingos, my body shall be whom? – Bai muon 2); Thuy ki tam trieu binh but quan? (We have been a triple dynasties chronicler officer who 51 Tran Thi Hoa Le till remember? – Ha nhat ngau thanh 2); Tan sinh van lu tuong ha ich? (Life with full of worries does mean nothing? – Tu trao); Qua nang tỵ the the an ty?/ Tung bat so nhan nhan tu sa (Whilst life could be get rid of but where could we escapes to?/ whilst we would not want to detact from public but public themselves would not want to see us – Ki Bai Nhiem Vu nien ong). The question in reverse on one’s condition and the questions in reverse on the social condition is a cause and effect relationship in which it is difficult to distinguish the position of cause and that of effect, but highly exposed the painful derision: “Nhieu nhieu giang son nhat te tran/Ha vi dinh dinh bach nien than?/... Te suy van hoi tri ha cuc?/Duong thi hong hoang thai co nhan” (People is like a tiny dust that wondering on the earth/With hundred years what is the meaning of a sustained body?/ . . . Carefuly consider the chance, to which it would be transformed?/ It would be turned back to great ancient of primary age - Ngau thanh 2); “Phong te tran o ha xu lai?” (Where is dirty dust come from with the wind? – Cam su). A typical poem of the question in reverse/self-claim – Nhan tang nhuc – concentrated number of typical style of Nguyen Khuyen, a smile with tears within a self-talk under the form of self narrative and silent humor. It is only a piece of food gifted to the oldman by his neibour coming back from a traditional community party with their addoration would be the reason for him to self-claim, to explain with wonder by
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