Wikivietlit, a website for all those interested in Vietnamese literature, is being launched with this post. The bulk of it is made up of writers' biographies, with links to their works online, some of which are translated into English. Helping to prepare wikivietlit, I was struck by how dismal many of these lives were, yet how resilient. There's the translator Nguyễn Văn Vĩnh, who died of malaria while on a gold-digging expedition in Laos, trying to escape from debts, and the great scholar Phạm Quỳnh, who was murdered by the Communists in 1945, his body thrown in Hắc Thú [Black Beast] forest, near Huế, and only found 11 years later. Military service, prison, hard labor, diseases and exile were their lots, yet they kept writing, editing and translating. Trần Dần's works were banned for 30 years, but his poems and novels never ceased. His writing matured and became more radical, all in isolation. Unscathed, unmolested Hồ Biểu Chánh was an exception. A personal favorite of my wife and I, he penned 64 novels between 1912 and 1958, not to mention critical books on the French and Chinese novels, Buddhism and Confucianism, etc.

The Vietnamese do not say, "I burst out laughing," but, "I was angered into laughing," or, "I was saddened into laughing." The individuals in wikivietlit were apparently angered and saddened into writing.

[image: Dương Thu Hương]

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