The Culture

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There are three veins of Vietnamese literature. Traditional oral literature (truyen khau) began long before recorded history and includes legends, folk songs and proverbs. Sino-Vietnamese literature was written in Chinese characters (chu nho). Dominated by Confucian and Buddhist texts, it was governed by strict rules of metre and verse. Modern Vietnamese literature (quoc am) includes anything recorded in nom characters. The earliest text written in nom was the late- 13th-century Van Te Ca Sau (Ode to an Alligator). One of Vietnam's literary masterpieces, Kim Van Kieu (the Tale of Kieu) was written during the first half of the 19th century by Nguyen Du ( 1765-1820), a poet. scholar, mandarin and diplomat.