Friday, November 29, 2019, 12:12 (GMT+7)
Fictionalizing or discrediting the national heroes?

Recently, some people have taken advantage of the right to fictionalize in the field of literature and art to discredit our national heroes. These non-artistic acts, in the name of art, are aimed to spread inhuman, reactionary and ahistorical values, hence need to be refuted.

As we all know, literature and art (L&A) belong to social perception and reflect the reality through concrete artistic images. The main functions of L&A include: education, propagation, aesthetics, entertainment, communications, social organization and adjustment, etc. It can’t be denied that L&A have a profound effect in making people realize and discover objective reality; changing the thinking and affection; adjusting behaviour and satisfying the aesthetic demand of people and society. A talented artist is the one who can grasp the ideal of time and build an artistic image to lead people to good thinking and behaviour. Although artistic images contain real life matters, they are not the mere copies of real life events and people. The building of an artistic image must include both generalization and typicalization principles. In order to combine generalization and typicalization in an artistic image, the artists need fictionalization. However, this should be limited.

Imagination and fiction are attributes of L&A and the rights of the artists in their work but they must be based on the fundamental principles of the true – the good – and the beautiful. In any L&A products, there are two components: one of the real life and one of the artist’s fictions. These two components are of equal importance, interrelated and indispensable. If the author just mentions the real life matters, his/her product will be a historical account not a work of art. In contrast, if the author says that he is composing a work of art and only fiction is necessary, the product will be unrealistic and ahistorical. By this way they are destroying their role as a righteous artist.

As for the topic of national heroes, fiction is regarded as a typicalization rule in L&A so as to bring to the readers a deeper insight into the heroes so that they become more vivid, typical and generalized. This makes the artistic image more beautiful and realistic without affecting the freedom of creation of the artists. Fiction is to satisfy the need to discover the real and “human” nature of historical figures who are idols of the mass but it must provide them a more comprehensive, thorough and human view.

During thousands of years of national construction and defence of Vietnam’s history, we have seen the contribution of several heroes of national liberation. They are also great persons of culture and representatives of the country’s culture of national construction and defence. They have become the idols in the heart and mind of our people and the reflection of thinking, morality and desire of the community. They are also a rich source for the nation’s cultural identity. At the same time, they are both material and duty for the country’s L&A as in the words once said by the late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong that the noble things of a country and a nation lie in cultural values; L&A has the duty and a role in creating those noble values. Accordingly, in L&A, the idealized view has created beautiful and heroic central figures. They are the representatives of a heroic nation with simple but exceptional qualities in spiritual strength. Therefore, in composing works of art, the national heroes should be described as the most noble, extraordinary and heroic ones in a natural way that make them close to daily life so that they remain popular to following generations.

Composing L&A products relating to national heroes requires that the authors must have good will. They can’t bring bad attempts to their products. This is because writing about national heroes is to generating artistic images through which the historical rules and human lessons are generalized indirectly. Building the national heroes in L&A products is a vivid, memorable and impressive way of education, making readers and viewers understand more about historical values of the past generations, thereby nurturing their patriotism and sense of responsibility for promoting those values. Basing on their aesthetic views and their gratitude and affection for the national heroes, and by their talents and sense of responsibility as citizens of the country, the artists should compose more products about these historical figures to contribute to raising the awareness of the community and orientating and educating the people. Therefore, fiction about the national heroes in L&A is not an act of exaggeration or fabrication of the heroes with strange characters, emotion and thinking. On the contrary, fiction must always be controlled by artistic and historical logic. Through the fiction, the authors can affect people’s mind and thinking, thereby contributing to educating, advising and adjusting people’s bahaviours.

As a country of geo-political importance, the country and people of Vietnam have a heroic tradition which is a rich source of material for the artists. In the past 30 years of renewal and opening policies, Vietnam’s L&A have seen the birth of valuable works of art. They have contributed to bringing the mass closer to the national heroes as the latter are described in a more casual way for the former to observe and follow, hence making a better future. However, our L&A about national heroes have yet to meet expectation of the society. Some artists, whether they are untalented or they lack historical knowledge, have composed unconstructive products in which the national heroes are defamed and discredited. Under the cover of “renewal”, they described our national heroes as instinctive humans with human and practical needs. They hold that: “We shouldn’t deify our national heroes. Let’s describe them as human beings”. Some even say that "writers have the right to fictionalize about historical figures, readers may agree or disagree about it – this is the true democratic view".

The so called “democratic view” is just a fallacy. In fact, they just capitalize on democracy and L&A to spread unverified messages aiming to distort and discredit our long-held perception of the national heroes, thereby causing suspicion among the people and spoiling the nation’s conscience and morality. This is truly a betrayal of our ancestors and the country’s history, and a negation of the historical, cultural and traditional values that have been built through thousands of years. This will be reason for hostile forces to review and negate the nation’s history, fine culture and heroic tradition. These thinking and actions should be resolutely countered and criticized for a modern and civilized society.

Senior Colonel Pham Quang Thanh, PhD., Political College – Ministry of National Defence

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