Vietnamese literature is literature, both oral and written, created largely by Vietnamese-speaking people, although Francophone Vietnamese and English-speaking Vietnamese authors in Australia and the United States are counted by many critics as part of the national tradition. For much of its history, Vietnam was dominated by China and as a result much of the written work during this period was in Classical Chinese. Chữ nôm, created around the 10th century, allowed writers to compose in Vietnamese using modified Chinese characters. Although regarded as inferior to Chinese, it gradually grew in prestige. It flourished in the 18th century when many notable Vietnamese writers and poets composed their works in chữ nôm and when it briefly became the official written script. While the quốc ngữ script was created in the 17th century, it did not become popular outside of missionary groups until the early 20th century, when the French colonial administration mandated its use in French Indochina. By the mid-20th century, virtually all Vietnamese works of literature were composed in quốc ngữ.
Some defining works of literature include The Tale of Kieu by Nguyễn Du, and Lục Vân Tiên by Nguyen Dinh Chieu.
Legendary female poetess Hồ Xuân Hương (born during the end of the 18th century) composed much of her poetry in Chữ Nôm, and most of it has been translated into quốc ngữ for modern Vietnamese. Her poetry continues to be widely popular. Other poets such as the famous Mandarin official Duong Khue had some of his poetry adapted into songs that are still famous today, such as the Ca trù-genre song "Hồng hồng, tuyết tuyết".
Many Vietnamese poems, along with folk "literature" in general, tends to be much more of an oral tradition - as literacy (as it is defined today) in the past was restricted mostly to scholars and the elite.
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