AND VIETNAMESE SINO-NOM Interview: Le Quang Truong, MA
Translators: Tran Thi Minh Thu, BA
Tran Le Hoa Tranh, PhD
Editors: Doan Le Giang, Prof.
Tran Thi Phuong Phuong, PhD
HO CHI MINH CITY - 2009
CONTRIBUTORS Vo Van Sen, Prof.
Bang Anh Tuan, MA
Doan Le Giang, Prof.
INTERVIEWERS OF CAO TU THANH Interview: Le Quang Truong, MA
Translators: Tran Thi Minh Thu, BA
Tran Le Hoa Tranh, PhD
Editors: Doan Le Giang, Prof.
Tran Thi Phuong Phuong, PhD
Interview in English 4
Interviews in Vietnamese 21
Interview Data 34
CAO TU THANH, THE SCHOLAR OF CHINESE CULTURAL HISTORY AND VIETNAMESE SINO-NOM
The scholar Cao Tu Thanh, whom real name is Cao Van Dung, was born in June 9th, 1955 in Sai Gon.
Pen-name: Cao Tu Thanh, which is his pen-name, was usually used since April, 1975.
Address: 22, TA19A Street, Thoi An Ward, District 12, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.
Phone number: 086. 2568318.
In 1977, he graduated from Sino-Nom discipline, the faculty of Philology, Ha Noi University.
He worked at Sino-Nom subcommittee in the library of Social Science, which was belong to the Social Science Institute of Ho Chi Minh City from 1978.
Since 1979, he was appointed to work at Antique - Contemporary Literature Group in Literary Committee, which was under the direction of the Social Science Institute of Ho Chi Minh city.
Since 1987, he moved to the Service of Culture and Information of Long An province, at which he became the personal assistant of the Faculty of Social Science for the Service’s management. Since 1988, he was accredited to the Director of this service. He retired in March, 1990.
MAIN INVESTIGATIONAL DIRECTION
Cultural history of Viet Nam, especially in southern area of the 17th parallel of latitude and Chinese culture and history.
NEWSPAPER AND MAGEZINES IN COOPERATION WITH
Magazines: Historical Research, Philology, Sino-Nom, Communist, Past and Present, Culture and Arts, Flash.
Newspapers: Sai Gon’s Liberation, the Youth, Women in Ho Chi Minh City, Letters and Arts in Ho Chi Minh City, Sai Gon’s Businessmen, Sai Gon’s Marketing,…
He has published about 40 books to be translated from Chinese books. There are not only the swashbuckling romance of Kim Dung, Luong Vu Sinh, Co Long, the childish novels such as Jia Li Jia Mei of Qin Wenjin ( 賈里賈梅, 秦文君) the economic books such as Tourism Book, the medical books such as The Way of Eating Four Seasons“四季進 補百述”... but also 18 books researching about Chinese hisory and society, which is belong to “The Bookcase of Ancient China’s Life” from the International Business Transaction Limited Company, and “The Bookcase of Chinese Society and Custom” from Shanghai’s Letters and Arts Publisher such as: The History of Beggars, The History of Beaury Choices, The History of Courtesans, some translations about Chinese custom such as: The Development of the Logical Method in Ancient China (Jian Jin Ming Xue Shi)and Chinese Middle Ages Thoughts and Historyof Hu Shi, Strange stories from a Chinese Studio (聊齋誌異, 蒲松齡Pu Song Lin), a set of Detail History of China (Ji Shuo Li Shi Zhong Guo, 9 volums) of Le Dong Phuong’s group…
RESEARCHMENT ABOUT TRANSLATION VIETNAMESE CUTURAL PHILOLOGY
Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Vietnamese Philology / Co-Authors : Cao Tu Thanh, Huynh Ngoc Trang, Long An, from the Service of Culture and Information of Long An province, 1983. - 95 pages, 19cm.
Nguyen Thong Works/ Co-authors: Cao Tu Thanh, Doan Le Giang translated excerpts, Long An, the Service of Culture and Information of Long An province, 1984. - 326 pages, 19cm.
Collections about Nguyen Thai Binh/ Co-authors: Cao Tu Thanh, Huynh Ngoc Trang- the 2nd version, from the Service of Culture and Information of Long An province, 1984. -289 pages, photo - 21cm.
Nguyen Huu Huan – The Unyielding Patriot and the Indomitable Poetry/ Co-authors: Pham Thieu, Cao Tu Thanh, Le Minh Duc, Ho Chi Minh City , Ho Chi Minh City publisher, 1986. - 179 pages, 19cm.
The Han Scripts of Chinese Association in Ho Chi Minh City/ Co-authors: Li Jana, Nguyen Cam Thuy (the chief author), Cao Tu Thanh, Vo Van So, Vo Thi Tam - The Faculty of Social Science, 1999. - 529 pages, Photo - map, 24cm.
Giadinh’s Confucianism/ Author: Cao Tu Thanh – Ho Chi Minh city– Ho Chi Minh City Publisher, 1996-254 pages, 19cm.
Some extra writtings: Can Duoc: Land and Men (the chief author, 1988), the Six Huong’s contest of Dynast (revise. and introduce, 1993), Tran Thien Chanh’s Poems (1995), Pham Thieu (2004), One Hundred Vietnamese poets (2005), One HundredQuestions and Answers about Gia Dinh’s History before 1802 (2007)…
In each achievement, he also contributed positively to science, and make deep impression to readers, such as GiaDinh’s Confucianism…
Antique Chinese Family Education/ Diem Ai Dan, Cao Tu Thanh translated- Ho Chi Minh City - the Youth publisher, 2001. -199 pages, 21cm
Chinese Hemits/ Han Trieu Ky, Cao Tu Thanh translated - Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2001. - 183 pages, 21cm
The History of Beggars/ Khuc Ngan Ban, Cao Tu Thanh translated - Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2001, 335 pages, 21cm
The History of Beaury Choices/ Luu Cu Tai, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2001.- 438 pages, 21cm.
The History of Scoundrels/ Luc Duc Duong, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2001- 319 pages, 19cm.
The History of Courtesans/ Tu Quan, Duong Hai, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 200. - 335 pages,21cm.
The History of Money/ Tran Minh Quang, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2001- 447 pages, 21cm
The History of Gambling/ Quang Xuan Nguyen, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2001- 303 pages, 21cm.
The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳)/ Jin Yong, Cao Tu Thanh translated, the Philology Association, 2001. - 293 pages, 19 cm.
The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記)/ Jin Yong, Cao Tu Thanh translated, the Philology Association, 2002. - 315 pages, 19 cm.
Decipher Jin Yong’s novels/ Vuong Hai Hong, Truong Hieu Yen, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Youth publisher, 2002. - 302 pages, 19cm.
Dai duong du hiep ky: The Knight-errant Novel/ Luong Vu Sinh, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City publisher, 2003. -360 pages, 19cm.
The History of Slaves/ Chu Cong Sinh, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, the Ho Chi Minh City’s Collection and Classification publisher, 2004. - 324 pages, 19 cm.
The History of Singing/ Đam Pham, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City’s Collection and Classification publisher, 2004. - 324 pages, 19cm.
The Development of the Logical Method in Ancient China/ Hu Shi, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City’s Collection and Classification publisher, 2004. - 268 pages, 19 cm
Chinese Monks/ Ly Phu Hoa, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City’s Collection and Classification publisher, 2004. -216 pages, 19 cm
Kung fu and Qi Gong of Ancient China/ Nhiem Hai, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City’s Collection and Classification publisher, 2004. - 196 pages, 19cm
Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/ Pu Song Lin, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Sai Gon’s Culture publisher, 2005. -622 pages, 24cm.
Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories ofYuan Mei, Cao Tu Thanh translated, Ho Chi Minh City, Sai Gon’s Culture publisher, 2009. -540 pages, 16x24 cm.
Cao Tự Thanh
Một số công trình nghiên cứu, dịch thuật về Trung Quốc đã xuất bản
THE WAY TO SINO-NOM RESEARCHMENT
In 1971, he graduated from the high school, one year later, in 1972, he passed an examination to the Faculty of Philology of Ha Noi University, studied Sino - Nom profession that is the first official course of Democratic Republic Viet Nam. At that time, there were only 13 students in his class; in war period, sometimes he moved to study in the communal house in Sat Thuong Village, Yen Phong district. He droped out of school and moved to Southen from June, 1975, and in the end of 1975, he came back to Ha Noi to continue his study. In 1977 he graduated.
Nowadays, one of his friends talked about the atmosphere of Sino-Nom class in cease - fire time in Ha Noi, at which he studied. Although his Sino-Nom class was in the communal house in Sat Thuong Village, Yen Phong district. Despite the dim light, a black-board, some mats and dunes of straws, which were used to make chairs; teachers and students still forgot themselves in teaching and studying. Teachers, who are profound sinologists such as Cao Xuan Huy, Do Ngoc Toai, Nguyen Dinh Thang…, were so enthusiasm in transmitting knowledge to their 13 students. In narrow space, ill-prepared and inconvenient equipment, they still overcame all dificulties to become scholars, Sino-Nom lectures with all their passion and will. He is one of them, who was the most special student in this Sino-Nom class and the prestigious Sino-Nom scholar in Sino-Nom world in Vietnam.
After graduating from university, he came back to Vietnam south side. From 1978, he worked at Sino-Nom subcommittee, the Social Sience Lirary of Ho Chi Minh City’s Social Sience Institute, to 1979, he was appointed to the Researching Philology in Old-comtemporary Group, the Philology committee belonging to this institute. In 1987, he moved to worked at to the Service of Culture and Information of Vinh Long province, at which he became the personal assistant of the faculty of Social Science for the Service’s management. In 1988, he was accredited to the Director of this service. In March, 1990, he retired. From that, he started to come into the way to research Sino - Nom and translate individually to earn his living. To live by his pen, he had to learn by himself. He wrote whatever he liked without anybody’s ideas, but in some rare cases, he had to wrote some demands from cultural offices. Number of his writings and projects about researchments, translations was more and more increasing… I had a chance to glance at his work - list, impressed by the total number because it was going up to over 100. He got his job to research Sino-Nom by change but he stuck with it forever. All things like his destiny wanted him just worked for researching and translating Sino-Nom .
CAO TU THANH’S RESEARCHING VIETNAMESE SINO-NOM PROJECTS
After graduating Sino-Nom profession of the major of Philology, Ha Noi University with his essay about “Tao Đan Chieu Anh cac in Ha Tiên”, which related to the stream of Chinese emigrants down to South - East Asian in XVII century, he began to get in close contact with finding Vietnamese Culture in Vietnam South Side, with some topics about interchanging activities – culture and society between Hoa Nam and Vietnam in XVII-XX century, such as Sino - Nom Literature in South Vietnam, Philology in Vietnam Southside and Sino - Nom in Gia Đinh…
TRANSLATION IS ALSO A JOB
You have to surprise at his strenghth to work when you visit his home, which is also his office. His present room is quite wide with some bookcases beside walls, which are full of invaluable Chinese Literary books. Next to these bookcases, there are a lot of books in boxes because they have nowhere to put in. In his couple - table, two computers in running without stopping spreading in such a hot wearher.
Some readers didn’t know about Cao Tu Thanh from his projects (because Sino - Nom books are quite difficulty to keep touch with if you aren’t interested in or work in this field). They started knowing him from his Chinese tranlations, such as the swashbuckler novels of Jin Yong, Liang Yusheng, Gu Long, Wang Du Lu,..:, The Legend of the Condor Heroes; The Deer and the Cauldron; Crouching Tiger, Hiding Dragon…Translations to him is just a secondary work to earn his living. This is the way to normalise his translating works not only skillful but also formal.
THE TRANSLATOR OF A LOT OF FAMOUS SWASHBUCKLER NOVELS AND A NUMBER OF RESEARCHING BOOKS ABOUT CULTER AND HISTORY OF CHINA
Beginning from his essay “Finding out about Tao Dan Chieu Anh cac in Ha Tien” relating to the stream of emigrants down to South-east Asia in XVII century, he began to get in close contact with finding Vietnamese Culture in Vietnam South Side, with some topics about interchanging activities – culture and society between Hoa Nam and Vietnam in XVII-XX century, such as Sino-Nom Literature in South Vietnam, Philology in Vietnam Southside and Sino-Nom in Gia Đinh…And it’s also a way take he to research about China. From the beginning, he kept in touch with a different way from others: contact with China from its historical side, culture and society not simplifiedly its Philology.
In according to Cao Tu Thanh, researching about China began from researching about its politics and culture - society. Hence, in the past, he had published some translations about Chinese custom such as: The Development of the Logical Method in Ancient China and Chinese Middle Ages Thoughts and History of Hu Shi, a set of Detail History of China (9 volums) of Le Dong Phuong’s group, which was also translated and published of them, and series of researching culture and history of China such as : Antique Chinese Family Education, Kung fu and Qi Gong of Ancient China…(belonging to “ The Bookcase of Ancient China’s Life” from the International Business Transaction Limited Company, and “The Bookcase of Chinese Society and Custom” from Shanghai’s Letters and Arts Publisher). All of them brought to us a lot of positive effects on researching Chinese History, which brought to him advantages to find out about Vietnamese history and culture.
However, he can’t pass over some topics about Chinese Philology. Therefore he was a translator of The True Stories of Judges of Li Baojia “官場見形記”,李寶嘉, translated collectively and compiled “ Tang’s Poetry Anecdote ”, fully translated Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/ Pu Songlin with his strick process of researching.
To be known that you are the first scholar in Vietnam who carried out scientific research and fully translated Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/ Pu Songlin, are you pleased to tell us all your difficulties in translating this writing?
“ From the beginning, I had to concern about its terms. Beside 431 or 432 details like others previewed, Vietnamese translators might not think about translating Collection ofStrange Stories from a Chinese StudioRemains聊齋誌異 拾遺into Vietnamese, not including of finding out about Strange Stories from a Chinese Studiofrom its original text. This situation made a lot of serious mistakes on the first version of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio(the 1st book, Philology Publisher, 1989).
This version had been cut a lot of paragraphs “Yi Shishi said”(Yi Shishi is pen name of Pu Songlin) in original text, which not only show mainly Pu Songlin’s composing purposebut also express the real value of this version. I have to mention that the style of translation unsystematicly truncated the original text is a popular phenomenon in society nowadays. It can contribute to the readers contaction to literary works more and more noisily but not expresses the depth of culture, so it contains of a danger to the translating and educating activities in Vietnam. As a result, my version can show you all of stories in Strange Stories from a Chinese Studioand Collection ofStrange Stories from a Chinese StudioRemains 聊齋誌異 拾遺, which includes our wishes to supply to you an exectly version of this writing. Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio part in my version based on the original text of Hongkong, compared with the one of Taipei to correct some details logically. 拾遺 Remains part is short of a story from 鬼廿四則 Twenty four Ghost Stories but in this ill condition of collecting informations, we can’t supplement for this version. Thus, we want to present our apologies to the readers.
The second thing, and the most important thing, is the work of translating Strange Stories from a Chinese Studionot too easy. It is a collection of short stories and novels from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, which wasn’t used too much literary allusion but included a lot of Chinese ancient prosody such as the concise form of writtings, short sentences, composing well - proportioned and a close structure. In some cases, the author put in his writing some long parallel constructions, for instance: the pentition of the character Long do student with his family name Bao in the story Sweet dreams custom (the 5th volum), the paragraph “Yi Shishi” in the botom of Du Fu賭符 story (the 6th volum), Su Miao Yin Jing 續妙陰經part in Ma Jie Fu馬介甫 story (the 10th volum); the words of Wu Nan Dai 吳南岱 from Yan Zhi臙脂 story (the 14th volum), or the proclamation to beat the Wind God from Hua Chun花神 story (the 16th volum)… Beginning from the viewpoint of form – this artistic factor is an organic part to express the content and make a value for this writing, what we want to show in this Strange Stories from a Chinese Studioversion”.
Having a viewpoint of translation and researchment seriously
It’s easy to see that he are an examplary and strick man in his life and his work. This represent his project published from the pass to now. All of his research works seems to hardly anyone can do it more completed than he do. Beginning from collecting the material of the text to his work of researching and translating, he has to take care of all above in the most careful way so no one can find out any defects from his projects. To do this, he defined obviously his viewpoint in research work.
In accordance with him, when researching any issues, we have to find out it carefully and solve it to the end. Perfection in research work is not a easy thing if you don’t want to mention that is so difficult to take it real, but that show to us that the responsible and high spirit in researching is a necessary for a man want to do research work. He also mentioned me that:
“The most fearful thing of a research scholar you have to avoid is the falsification and unprincipledness. A work of research science need morality and conscience.” Without morality and conscience, all of results, research achievements is a kind of “ appropriate the fruit of another’s labour”.
Are you a self - important man?
The same impressions and feelings of anyone who know or hear of the scholar Cao Tu Thanh is a pretigious and “haughty” researcher. That’s a reason why some people changed his name from Cao Tu Thanh to Thanh Tu Cao. But it’s just a feeling you get when you look at his outside. In fact, he is an enthusiasm man not only to science but also to his friends and all of the young people who are interested in Sino - Nom profession. He is a carefull and moral scholar in research work and translation, also hates the carelessness, especially the carelessness and unprincipledness in learning. I listened his sentiments in some meeting with him: “ Let’s be modest and lie on land, so we can survive on life”
When I asked him about his penname Cao Tu Thanh, he said this Cao was his family name, Tu Thanh was take from the meaning of last two line of poetry Depict Mountain Stream of Chu Guangxi 儲光義 from Tang’s dynasty “Diem dam vo nhan kien/ Nien nien truong tu thanh” (Quiet, no one saw/ Year by year is long green by itself). Two lines of poetry made deep impress in his mind at the first time when he heard Mr Nguyen Dinh Thang read them. Honestly, year by year, time by time, he still live in purity and quietness like a stream. Work by himself and write alone, so, he’s not self-important, just so modest that some people thought that he could scorn at life.
What do you think about the situation of researchment about China in Vietnam and what about its long-sighted is ?
“In my opinion, the situation of researchment about China in Vietnam is dispersed, unconnected and have no direction in learning and society clearly. On the whole, Vietnamese educational circles will have more difficulties in overcoming all shortcoming above. This is caused by history in part because from the beginning of XX century, Vietnamese intellectual circles was attractive by the Westen Culture, and from 1954 to 1975, Vietnamese scholars couldn’t keep in touch with Chinese documents in systematic way as well as keep up with Chinese’s study developing situation timely. I think that if we step up research about Chinese politics, culture and history, the international Chinese scholars will have same ideas about the standpoint and theory of researching China.”
Interview: Le Quang Truong, MA
PHỎNG VẤN HỌC GIẢ CAO TỰ THANH THÔNG TIN CÁ NHÂN
Nhà nghiên cứu Cao Tự Thanh, tên thật là Cao Văn Dũng, sinh ngày 09.06.1955, tại Sài Gòn.
Bút danh: Cao Tự Thanh, cũng là tên thường dùng sau tháng 4. 1975
Địa chỉ hiện tại: 22, đường TA19A, phường Thới An, quận 12, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Số điện thoại: 08 62568318 Email: email@example.com
Năm 1977, tốt nghiệp đại học ngành Hán Nôm khoa Ngữ văn Đại học Tổng hợp Hà Nội.
Từ 1978 làm việc ở Phân ban Hán Nôm Thư viện Khoa học xã hội thuộc Viện Khoa học xã hội Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh.
Đến năm 1979 được điều về Tổ Nghiên cứu Văn học Cổ cận đại Ban Văn học thuộc Viện Khoa học xã hội Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh.
Năm 1987 chuyển về làm việc ở Sở Văn hóa và Thông tin tỉnh Long An, làm Trợ lý Khoa học xã hội cho Ban Giám đốc Sở, qua 1988 được bổ nhiệm làm Quyền Giám đốc Bảo tàng tỉnh Long An, tháng 3. 1990 xin nghỉ việc nhà nước.