Legends of Vietnam

An Analysis and Retelling of 88 Tales


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About the Book

Legends are a mirror of the culture that creates them, a revealing lens through which to observe society, religion, history, and traditions. This volume explores Vietnamese legends from 1321 to today—tales of gods, spirits, ghosts, giants, extraordinary individuals, heroes, common people, and animals. It explains the mores, thought processes, and religions that formed the genesis of Vietnamese legends, traces the development of legends through time and space, and highlights the historical and social differences between northern and southern legends. Over time, this work shows, Vietnamese legends have evolved from a 14th century means of government propaganda to become a form of news, entertainment, and thought for the masses.

About the Author(s)

Nghia M. Vo, a Vietnamese-American, has written multiple books on Vietnamese culture. He helped found the nonprofit Saigon Arts, Culture & Education Institute and works to document Vietnamese-American culture through conferences, publications and a website.

Bibliographic Details

Nghia M. Vo
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6846-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9060-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Part One: The Vietnamese Cosmos      5

I. Introduction      6

II. Spirits and Religions      7

III. A Tale of Division      16

IV. Legends and Folk Stories      23

V. The Making of Vietnamese Legends      28

VI. Asian Legends      35

Part Two: Northern Legends      43

VII. Introduction      44

VIII. Việt Điền U Linh Tập      47

IX. Lĩnh Nam Chích Quái      57

X. Other Northern Legends      77

Part Three: Southern Legends      88

XI. Introduction      89

XII. Southern Legends      96

A. Historical Legends      96

B. Animal Legends      125

C. Traditional Legends      148

D. Social Legends      185

E. Ethnic Legends      232

XIII. War and Postwar Legends      234

XIV. A Tale of Deception and Failure      245

Chapter Notes      249

Bibliography      259

Index      263

Book Reviews & Awards

“Vo presents and analyzes legends of the Vietnamese cosmos, northern legends, and southern legends. The time scale of the legends stretches from the prehistoric to after the war with the U.S.”—Reference & Research Book News; “In Legends of Vietnam, Nghia M. Vo offers more than just the retelling of Vietnamese tales and oral history. He provides a detailed account of the origins and evolution of Vietnam’s traditions and culture through the stories of its past. The value of the book is more than the legends themselves though his selections, which covers everything from Ghosts, Heroes, Martyrs, and Gods, are well thought out and insightful. Legends of Vietnam offers understanding into Vietnamese culture and history and helps to explain the differences between North, Central, and South. It not only provides an excellent sampling of the most significant of the Vietnamese tales but also makes clear why the Republic of Vietnam struggled for its independence against the Communist–led Democratic Republic of Vietnam”—Ronald B. Frankum, Millersville University of Pennsylvania.