Nguyen Xuan Khanh’s Novel as a Narrative of the Mother Goddess Religion and this Indigenous Religion’s effects in a New Context in Vietnam Today

Author: Cao Kim Lan (Institute of Literature, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Vietnam)
Speaker: Cao Kim Lan
Topic: Narrative and Metanarrative
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


This paper explores The Mother Goddess of Upland Forests’ attraction – a novel written by Vietnamese author Nguyen Xuan Khanh, as a narrative of the Mother Goddess Religion and this indigenous religion’s effects in Vietnam society. The study presents this novel as a meta narrative based on a literary text. To accomplish this, the research draws from semiotics and rhetorical theory. Here, the combination of formal and contextual study will be applied. The rhetorical framework embodies not only a “close reading” of the artistic text but also exposes the persuasion of ‘artistic techniques’ that the writer employs to create a vivid work for readers.

Symbols, as artistic signs in literary text, are factors that ground linguistics and culture. We cannot completely understand the attraction of symbols without deeply penetrating culture. Hence, in this literary work, the symbol contains not only a viewpoint of the writer but also explores cultural depth. Considering these factors, I engage in a description of the attractiveness of this narrative text from two angles: the internal structure and its cultural context. Ultimately, I approach an analysis of the Mother Goddess religion from the new context of Vietnam today.

Keywords: Nguyen Xuan Khanh, The Mother Goddess of Upland Forests, The Mother Goddess Religion.