Five Studies on Khun Chang Khun Phaen
The Many Faces of a Thai Literary Classic
- PUBLISHED: October 2017
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies, Literature
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 214 Pages, 5.5 x 8.25 in, 6 illus.
- ISBN: 9786162151316
- Publisher: Silkworm Books
Siam’s great folk epic, The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, has entertained readers and audiences down through the centuries, with its rich and earthy portrayal of life and relationships. Here, a mix of Thai and Western scholars present five critical essays that uncover hidden layers and expose new themes using theories and approaches developed mainly within the field of Western literary criticism.
The first two essays arose out of the crucible of Thailand’s social upheaval and student protest movement in the early 1970s, while the remaining essays are more recent.
Authors & Contributors
Chris Baker is a historian and long-time resident of Thailand. Pasuk Phongpaichit is professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University. In 2010 they won the A. L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize for their translation of Khun Chang Khun Phaen. Contributors: M. L. Boonlua Debyasuvarn, Cholthira Satyawadhna, Warunee Osatharom, and David C. Atherton
1. A Society Which Lacks Principle / M. L. Boonlua Debyasuvarn
2. The Aggression of Characters in Khun Chang Khun Phaen / Cholthira Satyawadhna
3. Khun Chang Khun Phaen and the Moral Landscape of the Three Worlds Cosmology / Warunee Osatharom
4. Space, Identity, and Self-Definition: The Forest in Khun Chang Khun Phaen / David C. Atherton
5. The Revolt of Khun Phaen: Contesting Power in Early Modern Siam / Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit
Baker and Pasuk have single-handedly invigorated international interest in classical Thai literature by translating the monumental folk epic Khun Chang Khun Phaen. Now they have compiled this invaluable collection of essays that illustrates how the epic has been read and understood. Three of the essays are superb translations of classic studies by Thai literary scholars — Boonlua, Cholthira, and Warunee. Baker and Pasuk have thrown down a gauntlet to challenge non-Thai-reading literary scholars to deploy current literary theory in conversation with their Thai colleagues. I hope that sparks will fly.- Thak Chaloemtiarana, professor of Asian literature, religion, culture, and Southeast Asian studies, Cornell University