Memories of a Pure Spring
In Memories of a Pure Spring the reader is placed in the middle of modern Vietnam, still attempting to cope with life post-war. Hung is a part-time traveling composer in his mid twenties entranced by Suong, a teenage peasant girl he met in the mountains. He decides to take her as his muse, becomes her mentor and trains her to be the main vocal performer of his troupe. Hung and Suong later marry and become respected in the entertainment business.
Shortly after the war ends, Hung loses his high-respected job in the community, lands in custody and starts to self-medicate. Forced to be the breadwinner, Suong starts performing for government officials attempting to save her husband. Unable to deal with life, Hung flees his wife and children to dabble with opiates. She enlists in the help of old village friends to help her track down her husband to rehabilitate him. Hung may have saved Suong from mountain-life initially, but she sacrifices her own well-being for him throughout the rest of the story.
The book follows two people whose remembrance of their once pure, innocent, love allows them to recover from acts of adultery, abandonment and abuse. Although the lifestyles of Hung and Suong were not ideal for a strong marriage, they honored their vow to remain a unit until the very end. Economically repressed with limited ways of earning money, the people of Vietnam did not have an easy way of life in the 1970’s. It was the age when Men sold their lives to the military or spent their time running from it.
Author Duong Thu Huong gives an honest portrayal of a couple who got caught in the post-war whirlwind. The book was banned due to its portrayal of Vietnam government and the coarse, rigid individuals that have corrupted it. Men are not viewed in a positive light and the female characters are constantly picking up their significant other’s slack. Memories of a Pure Spring magnifies weaknesses in Vietnamese culture and for that reason, countries it was deemed a banned book.
– Sara Stephens