I've read that understanding Nguyen Du's classic poem, Truyen Kieu
(The Tale of Kieu), is essential to understanding the Vietnamese.
Patti bought me a bilingual edition but I have little doubt that my reading
is superficial. My command of tieng Viet is far too limited to even be
aware of subtleties in the language and I know so little of the Chinese classics
that I miss any allusion that's not explained in a footnote.
This much I think I understand: Kieu's life of unrewarded talent, with
it's adherence to duty despite undeserved difficulty, is a metaphor for
the Vietnamese people's long struggle to find their own way.