Huynh Thuy Le ancient house!

For those charmed by Marguerite Duras' acclaimed novel "The Lover"(L'amant), or the
subsequent Jean-Jacques Annaud film of the same name, Sa Dec in Dong Thap Province is a must-
In the small Mekong Delta town, 140 kilometers south of Ho Chi Minh City, you can visit the house of
Huynh Thuy Le, Dumas'; former lover on whom "The Lover" was based.
Le was the inspiration behind, Duras autobiographical tale in which a teenage girl falls in love with a
rich Chinese -Vietnamese trader.
The love affair between 15-yearold Duras, born in Gia Dinh (then called Saigon, now HCMC) in
1914, and 27-year-old Le began in 1929. But Le's father, Huynh Thuan, disapproved, claiming that
the two families belonged to different social classes. Duras then left Vietnam for France before her
18th birthday.
";In 1929, a 15 year old French girl, the daughter of a bankrupt colonial widow in the Mekong Delta
town of Sa Dec, becomes the lover of a 27-year-old son of a Chinese business magnate.
"Their tumultuous affair lasts until he bows to the disapproval of his father and ends the
"The man has no question of the trueness of his feelings, but it isn't until much later that the girl
acknowledges that she loved him as well.
Those interested in "The Lover" novel can trace its roots to Sa Dec. Anyone who has seen the film
will recognize the setting when they visit the small town dotted with old French villas.
Located at 225A Nguyen Hue Street, Ward 2, the home was first built in 1895 by Huynh Thuy Le's
father. Le restored it in 1917.
The "Lovers' House" as Sa Dec locals call it, combines Western and Eastern architecture. The
Western influence can be seen in the facade of the house and in the Renaissance-style ceiling and
balconies. However, the structure of the house was designed in the typical Vietnamese tradition. The
roof is tiled in the style of the pagodas and temples of northern Vietnam.
The 258-square meter house has three main rooms and is adorned with old Chinese-style
decorations. The interior has red lacquer and gold trimming.
Dong Thap Tourist Company
178 Nguyen Hue Street, Cao Lanh Town, Dong Thap Province
Tel: (067) 3 852 136 - 3 855 744
Fax: (067) 3 855 639
Tourism Operating Center
2 Doc Binh Kieu Street, Ward 2,
Cao Lanh Town, Dong Thap Province
Tel: (067) 3 855 637 - 3 873 026
Fax: (067) 3 855 744
The middle room is composed mainly of an altar to Guan Yu, a Chinese general serving under the
warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms era of China. In many
Asian countries, Yu is worshipped as a symbol of loyalty, sincerity, integrity and justice.
The house was used by Huynh Thuy Le's family until 1972, when Le died and his family went
abroad. The villa is now managed by Dong Thap Tourist Company.
Duras died in Paris in 1996, after a long literary career. Her first novel was published when she was
28 and she wrote in many genres, including essays, plays, film screenplays and journalism.
She published "The Lover" in 1984 and it has since been translated into more than 40 languages.
The novel also won one of France's most prestigious literary awards, the Prix Goncourt, in 1984. It was adapted into a film in 1992, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Jane March and Tony
Leung Ka Fai.
Face Nguyen Cung

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