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«Self-Reliance: Ethnography of Literature Outside Viet Nam Daniel Edward Duffy A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North ...»

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Self-Reliance: Ethnography of Literature Outside Viet Nam

Daniel Edward Duffy

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in

partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the

Department of Anthropology.

Chapel Hill

Approved by

James Peacock

Carole Crumley

Patricia Sawin

Eric Henry

John McGowan

 

© 2008

Daniel Edward Duffy

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ii

  ABSTRACT DANIEL EDWARD DUFFY: Self Reliance: Ethnography of Literature Outside Viet Nam (Under the direction of James Peacock, Carole Crumley, Patricia Sawin, Eric Henry, and John McGowan) Self-Reliance: Ethnography of Literature Outside Viet Nam calls for literary activity that recognizes the emergence of the nation of Viet Nam in the modern world order. First, an introduction summarizes the work. Then, the first chapter introduces the figure of Nhat Linh, a founder of modern literature in Viet Nam during the colonial period, who as the nationalist revolutionary Nguyen Tuong Tam later committed suicide in dissent to the Saigon government of Ngo Dinh Diem. The second chapter introduces the broad sweep of Vietnamese history since the founding of the Nguyen dynasty in 1801, in terms of what can be seen walking the streets of Paris visiting Vietnamese bookstores. The third chapter concludes the dissertation by returning to the figure of Nhat Linh and discussing what the author of the dissertation is doing with Vietnamese literature in Orange County, North Carolina.

iii   DEDICATION To my senior uncles, James Duffy, Ph.D. (Modern Languages, Harvard, 1952), abolitionist, and Robert C. DeVries, Ph.D. (Mineralogy and Geochemistry, Pennsylvania State University, 1953), who made gems for use, and to Huu Ngoc, patriotic scholar.

iv  

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to my mother Lucy for life itself, and to my brothers Paul, Tim, and Sam, to Denise and Karen, to Le Phuong Anh and to Katherine Elizabeth Anderson, to Pamela Rosenthal, Peter Childers, Daniel Egger, Elise Thoron, Oz Enders, Michele Thompson, Valerie Asher, David Willson, Alan Farrell, Dana Sachs, David McGrew, Linh Dinh, Scott Savitt, Wang Jun, Paul Dionne, Don Savarese, Erin Mahaffey, Greg Lockhart, Macavine Hayes, Captain Luke, Whistling Britches, Katharine Walton, Polly Desfrancs, Nick, Noah and Regina Long, and Linda Sue Hall for our lives together outside Viet Nam. My dead grandparents Edward and Sara, Charles and Rebecca, father Allen and my classmate John Xavier LaPorta have accompanied my writing, as John’s namesake and now Bob and Betsy have kept me company. My fellow anthropologists at Carolina, 1997-2008, and the Viet Nam Studies Group (Association of Asian Studies) witnessed the research, which began with opportunities provided by Judith Farquhar in my department and by Michel Fournie at Langues O' through the Chateaubriand fellowship. Many of my colleagues and several of the institutions who have worked with me are recognized in the dissertation itself.

–  –  –

INTRODUCTION………………………………………...……...…………...…………… 1 I. Overview…

II. Chapter 1: Follow Me…………………………………………………………….2 III. Chapter 2: The Vietnamese and Orientalist Bookstores of Paris, France……..….5 IV. Chapter 3: The Viet Nam Literature Project in Orange County, North Carolina…8 CHAPTER 1: FOLLOW ME…………………………………………………................11

CHAPTER 2: THE VIETNAMESE AND ORIENTALIST BOOKS OF PARIS,

FRANCE…….................………………………………………………...86

CHAPTER 3: THE VIET NAM LITERATURE PROJECT IN ORANGE COUNTY,

NORTH CAROLINA…………………………………………………..232 BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………….………..258

–  –  –

The dissertation encourages self-reliance by using the resources of ethnography to place the reader in the contemporary world, characterized by the entry into the world order of the nation of Viet Nam and its people, whose reality may be engaged by reading its dispersed literature.

Readers are encouraged to consult a better-documented, more thoroughly factchecked, and improved version of this dissertation, with an extended conclusion, produced to publishing standards.

–  –  –

“Follow Me” introduces a doctoral dissertation, an original contribution to knowledge within the tradition of a discipline. One of three chapters that make up the dissertation, it introduces the discipline of anthropology, and the background of Vietnamese studies against which the research findings reported in the second chapter are new and the conclusions drawn in the third chapter are compelling.

“Follow Me” introduces the substance of a discipline and area study almost entirely unknown to almost all readers. “Follow Me” uses two strategies towards this goal. One is indirection, narrative with implication, scattering details in a way that adds up to a gestalt.

The journalist and prose stylist Ernest Hemingway famously used this method in his story   of the civil war in Spain for English-speaking Americans, For Whom the Bell Tolls. He described the method, in practical suggestions to the writer, as imagining everything and then leaving it all out.





It is the method of magazines as well, enlisting the reader in social assumptions by refusing to spell everything out, a strategy you can see at work in the pages of the New Yorker, especially in their “Talk of the Town” pieces and cartoons. I can’t introduce anthropology and Vietnamese studies, let alone modern world history with special reference to the separate unifications of France, the United States and Viet Nam, and their interventions upon one another, all in one chapter or in all three, so I rattle on as if the reader knows it already.

However, it is a shortfall of Hemingway’s procedure in For Whom the Bell Tolls that it reduces the great rehearsal for World War II and the Cold War, the civil war for Spain, into atmospherics and attitude. Part of the success of his book is that fascists have no problem identifying with Hemingway’s guerilla waiting to die at his bridge. That would be great art if they recognized that he was an anti-fascist, but they usually don’t.

To assume that you understand other people was the great failing of the US in Viet Nam, and it is the bete noir of anthropology. Speaking in the publicly engaged, anti-racist spirit of American anthropology, about the development and reception of Vietnamese literature, I must explain some big ideas, and fill them in with orderly details.

The second method I use is another approach to social realism, Hemingway’s own first model, that of Tolstoi in his War and Peace, to alternate personal drama with social scientific exposition. This is Tolstoi, but it is also John Dos Passos and James Michener, and a host of forgotten authors of unreadable manuscripts and books and everyday   magazine profiles. The strategy succeeds to the extent that the author speaks from a social position that gives him his own micro and macro view of the world, rather than from an assumed urbanity or vulgarity, that of a reporter’s unspecified voyeur.

Tolstoi was a count who conducted personal life at the levels of power he wrote about; Dos Passos a man who grew up and lived in hotels, an authentic tourist in the 20th century; Michener an industry in himself, received with honor by the notables of the places he chose to set a novel in. I am an editor and an anthropologist.

“Follow Me” follows me to explain the social roles of a writer about society. I introduce a barrage of friends who write from similar positions, especially Alan Farrell, a career non-commissioned officer in the US Army as well as an academic. In the course of explaining the explainer, I introduce the idea of the dialectic, in terms of yin and yang and of the social science distinction between agency and structure, the individual and community. Alan is one of several intellectuals in the dissertation whose daily life brings out these issues in sharp relief.

Referring to an image that Max Weber used to explain the difference between science and politics, I place Alan and myself on the platform of a lecture hall, as visible, dramatized human beings trying to explain society in general terms. The lecture hall is my own, where I am teaching a course in general anthropology. Following this image, I explain the course I am teaching, which introduces the tradition of anthropology in the US after Franz Boas, and I explain myself and my trajectory through our educational system and into this discipline.

The introduction ends with a return to its beginning, quoting the first paragraphs of the chapter. I first saw the technique in theoretical works by the sociologist Bourdieu,   citing his own earlier ethnography at length without attribution. Bourdieu is a kindred spirit, an author who can’t proceed except on both the small and large scale at once. I like the technique because it recalls the theatrical approach of Bert Brecht, another hero, also obsessed with dramatizing both the life of society and the life of an individual, whose avant-gardism was aggressively normal. All I am doing is quoting myself but the act remains strange.

The rhetorical point of the strangeness is to ask the reader to bear in mind all that I have just told him, while I start again the story of Nhat Linh, a founder of modern Viet Nam and of modern Vietnamese literature. The dissertation isn’t about Nhat Linh, he is just one of the stray details I scatter about for the reader to pick up and assemble as he wishes. If it were told, his story would be one of alienation, failure, isolation, frustration, ending in a futile gesture. One of my best friends began such a dissertation on the similar figure of Ezra Pound, only to abandon not only the project but scholarship. The dissertation as a whole is in flight from this fate, through the understanding gained in the second chapter and the connections drawn in the third.

“Follow Me” is about entering the social world we live in by noticing that Viet Nam is a nation and Vietnamese are human beings. “Self-Reliance: Ethnography of Literature Outside Viet Nam” as a whole tells how to become an authentic person by recognizing Viet Nam. Because modern Viet Nam came into existence and then to the attention of the United States through great-power struggles that ignored the place, our world is littered with distractions from the truth of the humanity of Vietnamese. “Follow Me” is a harangue, the speech a military commander gives on the field of battle, a rhetorical display meant to wake the men up to the fact that they are surrounded and have only each other.

  III. Chapter 2: The Vietnamese and Orientalist Bookstores of Paris, France “The Viet Nam History Project and the Vietnamese and Orientalist Bookstores of Paris, France” is the second chapter of a dissertation in three chapters. The first chapter introduces the topic, method, field and discipline of the dissertation. The third chapter draws conclusions.

The second chapter, the length of the other two combined, reports what I learned by doing the dissertation research. Over a year in Paris I tracked down the bookstores in the city that deal with Viet Nam. In explaining that research, I draw on Davis library as well as my field notes to show how Vietnamese people have written their history on the streets of the capital of France.

I attempted to write subtitles to make the logical structure of the chapter easy to follow. They did not help, but simply cycled through Vietnamese history, Southeast Asian area studies, French history, and my field experience. The logical structure of the chapter is to shuttle between drama and social science.

To help the eye, I followed the practice of the other surviving national magazine, The Atlantic, setting the initial sentence of a paragraph every page or so in large bold type.

When convenient, the bold sentences mark the beginning of a narrative passage, but most don’t. However, these helpful subtitles invite obstruction from the Graduate School format inspectors, so I have elided them from this version of the dissertation.

There are only three main narrative passages: the introduction to Paris; the walk through the city and the history of France and Viet Nam; and dwelling on the Vietnamese retail neighborhood and French Orientalism.

  The exposition begins in the restaurant where I would take out-of-town guests and use the decorations to explain Vietnamese history. As well as giving that talk, I tell of my interactions with Vietnamese guests and the owners of the restaurant, to show me and the Vietnamese as current actors as well as narrator and subjects of history.

Then I tell about the work of my research, finding the Vietnamese bookstores of the city. I am not reporting my findings but following myself around the city to show the involvement of France and Viet Nam, which is written on the street signs and names of

–  –  –

international students, and proceed through the Parc Montsouris. The park’s history allows me to make reference to reaction and revolution in France since 1870, and the general sense of the great capital as a rag-and-bone-shop of social experimentation.

We proceed north, toward Les Olympiades, the Vietnamese retail district on the southern edge of the Seine, noting street names as we go. We linger for many pages on the street named for Jules Bobillot, a sergeant “dead in Tonkin in 1885”, because he allows me to explain how France came to Viet Nam.



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