On Myth, Mythology, and Mythological Characters in Contemporary Vietnamese Prose

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This article delves into some issues of mythological criticism, a field of study that has proven helpful for the creation, reception, and criticism of contemporary Vietnamese literature. Myth is regarded as a pre-text, the oldest surviving genre, a primitive composite form in which human culture has been preserved and has constantly brought creative inspiration and material for artists. Since then, literary studies from myth and archetypal criticism, intertextuality, and interculturality are opening up new possibilities/prospects. However, in the socialist culture in the Vietnam North in the 1945–1975 period, mythological writing styles were abandoned mainly in favor of composition aimed at the masses and educating the masses about the revolutionary spirit. The blossoming of mythical works is a vivid testimony to the decline of socialist literature and its poetic paradigm. Cultural fragments of myths continually penetrate creative thinking and the level of structure and image of literary works, thereby creating new dialogues and interpretations about history and culture and the human condition. The aspects of the aesthetic image (space–time, characters, symbolic systems, and archetypes) and mythological thinking, which emerge from ancient myths, are constantly being molded, reborn, and interacted in contemporary literature/cinema. This article presents several theoretical issues on myth and demythification, thereby analyzing the dynamics of myth criticism: mythification (characters) and demythification in several contemporary Vietnamese literary texts. Meletinsky’s poetics of myth is used as the main theoretical framework for this article.