Vietnam’s Communist government doesn’t receive as much bad press as China’s, but by objective accounts they’re similar beasts: controlling information, crushing political dissent and imprisoning those who criticise the regime. Political liberalisations has not followed economic liberalisation. Most people, either because they are too fearful or comfortable, don’t dare to defy the ruling party. But Duong Thu Huong is not most people.
The events portrayed in Memories of a Pure Spring in many ways parallel the life of the author. Like her novel’s protagonist, Huong spent ten years during the Vietnam/American War in the most heavily bombed area of her country, serving not as a soldier but the leader of an artistic troupe. She was also imprisoned, although in her case for “sending state secrets abroad” after she mailed the manuscript for Novel Without a Name overseas for publication. Even her hero’s name, Hung, is notably similar to her own.
Memories of a Pure Spring demonstrates that Huong continues to defy the Communist Party despite her persecution. Yet while the Government is undoubtedly culpable in the tragedy that lies at the novel’s heart, a lot of discussion could be had over who is ultimately responsible – those in power, fate, history, or the characters themselves. Read the rest of this entry »