History of TET MAGAZINES in Cochin China – Part 2

Associate Professor, Doctor of History NGUYEN MANH HUNG
Nick name: a baggage horse in the university village
Pen name: Beetle

… be continued …

    People’s  imperfection  consists of thinking  that other people are being more blessed than themselves, while actually, each day, they are getting much more blessings than their fellow-creatures. However small the blessing might be, we ought to feel happy to have it,  as  it’s created all by ourselves just like the shelter, though narrow, still contends the pressure of the wind, as well as the sharp bomb fragments.

    However, there are several ways to enjoy, among which the passive and the active ways are the ones we ought to think about when the springtime comes back.

    Many newsmen at that time had evaluated the decline of the contents of Springtime issues  throughout those five wartime years.

    That was the situation in Cochin China which Ho Bieu Chanh is one among the historical witness.

    Looking out toward Hanoi – the whole nation’s cradle – the newsmen had, through  magazines such as Tri Tan (Knowledge of the New) Thanh Nghi (Public Opinion) Trung Bac chu nhat (Central and Northern Sunday),  left behind for our profit an abundant treasure of documents, used for the Press and Literary circles. Straightforwardly speaking. the springtime issues of Trung Bac Chu nhat, Phong Hoa and Ngay Nay had conquered the mind of the Cochin Chinese readers.

    With regard to the Phong Hoa  and Ngay Nay, those magazines had affirmed their original places in contemporary press and literary circles. Creative personages such as Ly Toet, Xa Xe, Bang Banh…  constitute a remarkable phenomenon among the types of magazines and newspapers in that primeval period of time.  Particularly the personages such as Ly Toet and Xa Xe… had reappeared in magazines written in French. Newsmen, preparing the springtime issues for various magazines, had used the sketches representing those two imaginary personages – considered as typical Vietnamese commoners – and thus, we’ll have an opportunity to introduce them to our readers  in our  Springtime issue  of this year.

  After the French returned to Saigon for the second time, the two magazines Tuong Lai (Future) and Phuc Hung (Revival) had been eager to enjoy Tet at an earliest time. As a special feature, these magazines have had the initiative in publishing name cards holding New Year’s greetings on their special issues published at the end of the Binh Tuat year (1946). At that time, the nation had started its war of resistance against the French, but the Phuc Hung magazine still hoped for a lasting peace.

    “At the Springtime of Binh Tuat (1946), the Phuc Hung magazine conveys its best wishes to all readers, hoping that they’ll be able to enjoy: Peace – Freedom – Happiness”.

   In the following Springtime (1947) the Press circle was crowded with other names such as: Viet But (Vietnamese Pen), Tin Dien (Flash News), Kien Thiet (Reconstruction), Su That (Truth), Len Dang (Starting on one’s way) Nam Ky (Cochin China), Tan Viet (New Vietnam) Tieng Goi (The Call). However, there were only two among them that were worthy of attention. They were the Springtime issue by Mr. and Mrs. But Tra – i.e. the Kien Thiet Springtime issue of Lawyer Chin, and the Nam Ky Springtime issue of Mr. Truong.

    In the year 1948 – the Press seemed like awoken with so many various Springtime special issues that might be considered as somewhat prolix. In this period of time, many diversified Springtime special issues came to life and competed with one another in presenting New Year’s Greetings under names quite “delectably national” such as Liberation Springtime – Wartime Springtime – National Springtime…

     As a special feature and as an in vogue fashion – a number of publishing houses such as Tan Viet, Nam Cuong also published special Springtime issues. Even organizations of the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao forces (Cao Dai and Hoa Hao are religious sects) as well as Roman Catholic organizations  also published Springtime magazines, bearing quite theatrical names such as: Sound of the Bell Springtime Magazine Eastern Area Springtime Magazine, Fighting Springtime Magazine…

    However, dealing only with  the appearance – the Press circle believe that the two consecutive Springtime special issues, published within the developments of the situation in the years 1949 and 1950 had served as models for all springtime magazines at that time and from that time on. The fixing of such a model had sketched a fairly clear portrait, both  in  form and content, of the  condition in which the Press circle  was  allowed to enjoy an open-door press regime (since the spring of 1950) – but when came the year 1951, the springtime magazines again declined. The Press circle’s ups  and downs also show the unstable political and economical situations throughout the territory of Indochina.

   How could one classify the Spring magazines and newspapers with regard to their political, artistic, social and cultural tendencies… shown by them in a fairly sincere manner – this is something that requires a serious research work, using different methods – researching method, historical method, political studies method…

    The researching method itself isn’t a simple  matter although we have on hand many other Springtime Magazines  to enumerate such as Dong Thanh Xuan 1935 (Voice of the 0rient Spring 1935) published by Dr. Tran Nhu Lan, Nay Xuan (Today’s Spring), Tan Tien Xuan (Modern Spring) Dan Ba Moi (New Women) published by Bang Duong, Sai Thanh Hoa bao (Saigon illustrated), Tan Thoi (Modern times), Tu Do (Freedom), Dong Nai, Dong Duong (Indochina), Nu Gioi (Woman’s world), Khoa Hoc (Sciences), Song (Life) – Chop Bong (Movie), Van Học tuan san (Cultural weekly magazine), Niet Ban (Nirvana)… Among all those Spring magazines we ought to pay  particular attention to a few ones such as the Mai (Tomorrow) published by Dao Trinh Nhat, Tan Van (New literature) published by Phan Van Thiet, Nhut Bao (Daily newspaper) and Dan Moi (New People)  published by Nguyen Bao Toan and Nguyen Van Mai. We must  also find out about the rumor through which the Press circle believe that the Third Internationalists have the Dai Chung (The Masses) newspaper and the Fourth Internationalists  have the Tranh Dau (Struggle) magazine that bore special and original characteristics.

    However, dealing with the surface and appearance of the Springtime special issues, we can see that, right at the beginning, their number of pages was quite little, compared with the one of ordinary daily newspapers – isn’t it because the articles must be centered on the Spring subjects, so they were carefully selected? The spring issue of the Trung Lap (1933)  has only 10 pages of ordinary sizes, with a selling price of 15 cents; there was only the Xuan Phu Nu Tan Van  (Women’s New Literature) that was fairly thick with 38 pages – with 4 pages of cover printed especially in colours that were quite marvellous, but the selling price was only 20 cents. At the time the Than Chung (Miraculous Bell) was suspended the readers saved their attention for the Phu Nu Tan Van mentioned above.The Special Spring Issue of the Duoc Nha Nam (Vietnmese People’s Torch) published by Nguyen Phan Long and Nguyen Van Sam in 1935 was  also an outstanding one with its 20 pages, well printed and sold at 20 cents each. Then in 1936, the Springtime issue entitled “Vietnam”, published by Nguyen Phan Long, had 24 pages and was sold with a price even lower than 20 cents.

    The year’s end issue of the Phuc Hung (Restoration) published in 1946 was as big as one half of an ordinary daily issue  and was sold 1 piastre.

     At that time, some Springtime Special Issues were quick-seller, not only because of their images or photos on their covers – like the case of the Springtime Issue Anh Sang (Light) of Lu Khe – or because of their great number of pages like the case of the Than Chung (Miraculous Bell) of Nam Dinh, but also because of a lottery used for  “marketing” as in the case of the Saigon Moi (New Saigon) published by Mrs. But Tra. As a special feature, the Springtime Issue of the Doc Thay (Read and See) published by Tran Van An, was sold quickly as  it was  “three issues into one” and was sold with a reasonable price, while the readers were allowed to participate in a contest with a number of prizes they could win. As for the Springtime Issue of’ the Dan Quy (Beloved People) published by Phan Khac Suu – a politician in the South – and by Nguyen Van Mai, it sold well thanks to its readable contents and its artistic presentation.

     Besides, the Press circle could not avoid competing with one another to issue the magazines and newspapers early; through such a competition,  the Than Chung of Nam Dinh had reached the readers’hands much earlier than the other magazines./.

◊  History of TET MAGAZINES in Cochin China – Part 1

BAN TU THƯ – T11 /2019