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22/06/2019 - 07:29

“Hue Citadel - History and Culture”

Hue Citadel – History and Culture is a large-sized and beautifully printed photobook, presented in 3 languages: Russian, English and Vietnamese

A page from the book “Hue Citadel – History and Culture”

In 2018, when the Russian writer Tatjana Bogina and Mr. Nguyen Truong Son, Member of the Executive Committee of the UNESCO Associations in Vietnam visited Hue, I was one of the first persons they chose to meet and share about the purpose of their trip.

To be honest, at first, I did not have much interest in hearing Ms. Tatjana’s wish to compile a photobook about Hue, simply because many fascinating and beautiful books about the ancient capital had been produced. However, the more I listened to her and observed the way she expressed her idea and plan, the more I was won over. It appeared to me shortly that she was a special Russian and her dedication and affection for Hue were extraordinary. Since then, I got to believe that she would create an interesting work about Hue. And I wasn’t at all mistaken.

Now, having held “Hue Citadel – History and Culture” in my hands and finished reading it, I am filled with joys. I am delightful because Hue has another good book to take pride in and another dear friend to treasure. The city now has one more dedicated ambassador to communicate its precious cultural values to the world.

The cover of “Hue Citadel – History and Culture”

“Hue Citadel – History and Culture” is a large-sized, beautifully printed photobook, conveyed in 3 languages: Russian, English and Vietnamese. The book was printed in Russia, and according to the plan, 1,500 copies will be sent to Vietnam.

Available in three languages, this book has a special advantage in reaching different groups of readers, not only Vietnamese, Russian and people from Russophone countries but anyone who comprehends English.

Different from most photobooks or travel books about Hue, which usually focus on either featuring nice photos or containing bulky travel information, “Hue Citadel – History and Culture is a story with tremendous emotions of a female writer about the land of the marvelous ancient capital. To commence her book, Tatjana Bogina writes: Hue city – what an infinite treasure! Infinite because in every moment of your experience, it not only brings you back to history but also takes you to a new horizon, give you novel meanings and fill you with profound emotions.

When looking at a certain splendid work here, it seems as if we are injected with a familiar feeling and we could know anything about it. But upon getting a little closer, we realize that it’s just the outside that we see. The inside, lying behind the door that we are about to open, is a whole world of brand-new experiences awaiting to be explored. Moreover, depending on which path you take, you might get the feeling of falling into a parallel universe, which exists behind the corridors and gardens, converging into a one-dimensional space that draws us into the “pilgrimages”, both in literal and figurative meanings”.

Tatjana wants to “help you overcome the geographical, linguistic, and cultural barriers of Vietnam to comprehend the essence of Vietnam’s traditions, to thoroughly understand the Vietnamese way of behaving, to touch upon Vietnamese history and to be happy that, once you have finished reading the book, you can perceive the meaning, right at first sight, of strange things: the houses, the streets, the clothes, the cuisine and even the flowers. In short, although only in brief moments, you might have once been a Vietnamese”.

In 176 pages of the book, readers will enjoy a virtual walk guided by Tatjana to Hue that would help them understand the soul of the city through specific stories, illustrated by vivid photos, from the establishment of the imperial capital, the pagodas, the garden houses, the royal palace, the imperial symbols, the veneration of ancestors, to the philosophy behind the complex of royal tombs, the elephants, the story about royal and folk cuisines, the royal court music and the Huong river, etc. Her writing style is simple but fascinating. Once readers have picked up the book, it is hard for them to escape from the pages.

Despite some minor grammatical and technical flaws, in many ways, this is still an inspiring and beautiful book about the ancient capital. It is such a great honor for me to write the forewords for the book and now to introduce it to you.

Story and photos: Phan Thanh Hai

 

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