Saigon Ink #3: typewriters and old vinyl
No more bookshops or even books here, but a couple of literature-related finds that might fit better on the Hanoi Ink tumblr, if there was such a thing.
Hermes Baby portable typewriter from the early 1960s
First up is my new (old) typewriter that I acquired in a little shop in Phu Nhuan District: a beautiful pale mint green Hermes Baby. Hermes typewriters were made in Switzerland, and the successive version of the Baby from the 1930s onwards were their compact, ultra-light portable models popular with students and traveling writers. This model dates from the 1960s and has the French AZERTY keyboard layout. The ribbon was broken when I bought it but with an improvised repair I was soon pecking out words.
It’s a Hermes Baby, baby!
It turns out that Lin Yutang, whose 1935 book on China I picked up on Trần Nhân Tôn street in District 5, was also the inventor of one of the first viable Chinese-character typewriters. No mean feat when you consider the number of characters in regular use in written Chinese.
Lin Yutang’s typewriter for Chinese characters
My second find was an LP with a 1969 recording of the musical theatre production Chuyện Tình Hàn Mạc Tử (Love Story of Han Mac Tu). I have written previously about Hàn Mạc Tử’s life and poetry—including a translation of his poem Mùa Xuân Chín—as well as his death from leprosy in Quy Nhon at the age of 28.
Album cover art for Love Story of Han Mac Tu
The composers of this musical are Viễn Châu and Thể Hà Vân. Viễn Châu from Trà Vinh is famous as the king of the cải lương (reformed) opera style that remains massively popular in southern Vietnam. The cast includes Út Hiền, Bạch Tuyết, Kim Ngọc, Bích Thủy, Trang Bích Liễu, Văn Chung, and Hùng Cường. Lê Văn Thiện’s band provides the music.
Here is a rough recording taken from the LP:
And as a final postscript, my translation of Mùa Xuân Chín (Ripe Spring) by Hàn Mạc Tử, typed on my Hermes Baby: