Thai literature was primarily concerned with religion and until
the mid-19th century was in verse form. Thai verse was written
exclusively by the aristocracy or royalty, the only educated
classes able to do so. The tradition of authorship by kings can
be seen in all periods of the country's history, from
up to . Two
(1910-1925), were distinguished poets and stalwart patrons of
of the most important Thai literary works is the ,
a uniquely Thai version of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. Early
Thai version of the Ramakian were lost in the destruction of .
The longest of the three present versions was written in 1798 by
the first Chakri King, ,
and a group of intimates, who incorporated Thai and
elements into it to preserve oral knowledge of Ayutthaya state
rites and traditions. Indeed, King Rama I's Ramakian is the
major historical source of medieval Thai courtly traditions.
composed two episodes of the Ramakian for
purposes and wrote several other epic poems, including the
Inao , a romance with a Javanese background. The Inao is a
treasure trove of historical information on early 19th
century Thai customs, habits, and manners and figures
prominently in the repertoire of classical drama.
major Thai literary figure was Sunthon Phu (1786-1855), a poetic
genius and well-beloved commoner. Sunthon Phu's enduring
achievement (apart from his legendary personal adventures) was
to write superbly well in common language about common feelings
and the common folk. Easily understood by all classes, his work
became widely accepted. His major works were Phra Aphai Mani, a
romantic adventure, and nine Nirats mostly written during a
pilgrimage, associating romantic memoried with the places he
visited in central and eastern Thailand.
and were also distinguished writers whose creativity
contained the rich intellectual heritage in several prose and
verse forms. Among outstanding literary works of King Rama V
were Ngo Pa and the well-known collection of Klai Ban or Far
Away from Home, on his journey to Europe in 1906-7. Those well-known
works of King Rama VI were Matthana Phatha, Phra non Kham Luang
, and several patriotic articles entitled, Muang Thai Chong Tun
Thoet or Wake up-all Thais, etc.
outstanding writer and scholar was Phya Anuman Rajadhon, who was
born in 1888 and died in 1969. Interested in all aspects of Thai
culture, from language to folklore, Phya Anuman wrote dozens of
books on such subjects and served as an inspiration to numerous
younger Thais who are now prominent in academic fields.
into the modern age about 1900 onward, most of the Thai
readers are well acquainted with the work of Dokmaisod
whose real name is M.L. Boobpha Nimmanhaemindha. She was a
novelist in the pioneering age. Her best known works were
for example, Phu Di, Nung Nai Roi, Nit, Chaichana Khong
Luang Naruban, etc. Many of her works have been assigned
as books for external reading for students at the
secondary and tertiary levels of education today.
Choopinij, in his pen name Mae Anong and Noi Intanon, was an
expert in his own right in both full length and short stories.
Thung Maharat, a novel based on rural life, and Long Phrai,
which is about the adventure in the forest, are some of his best-known
Muang Doem the pen name of Kan Phungbun Na Ayudhya, whose novel
Khun Suk, won much admiration during his time and was on several
occasions adapted for television
a pen name of Chot Praephan, whose most popular work is Phu
chana Sip Thit, a legend of Burmese royal court, which has been
adapted by many script writers for television drama as well as
stage drama enjoyed by nationwide audiences.
Burapha, a popular novelist, whose real name was Kularb Sai
Pradit. His most famous work is a love story entitled Khang Lang
Phap, or literally Behind the Portrait.
leading literary figure is former Prime Minister M.R.
Kukrit Pramoj, whose works have been prolific. They
appeared in various forms including short stories,
articles, columns and critiques. He is generally regarded
as the best Thai short story author. His collection of
short stories, the so-called Lai Chiwit, is considered an
exemplary work embodying the finest Thai prose, an
appreciation of which is essential for the appraisal of
Thai contemporary literature. His most outstanding novel,
Si Phandin , or Four Reigns, revolves around the court
life from the reign of King Rama V to offering a vivid portrait of Thai society in
those long years of the four interesting reigns.
Asokesin, or Sukanya Cholasuk, is another very successful and
famous novelist. She has written a collection of over one
hundred novels on love and complexities of family life. She has
won both domestic and international awards. Her well-known
novels, Rua Manut and Tawan Tok Din, won the SEATO Literary
Awards. She was also awarded the National Artist status.
Saowaphong or Sakdichai Bamrungphong is the doyen of modern
writers. His novels and short stories deal with class conflicts,
exploitation, and urban society. Pisat, Evil Spirits, his most
popular novel, is about the conflict between new and old
generations. He also won the National Artist status.
late Suwanee Sukhnotha, a former painter, was a highly
successful woman writer. Her best novel, Khao Chu Kan, His
Name is Kan, won a SEATO Literary Award. It is about a
young doctor who sacrifices a brilliant career in one of
the nation's leading hospitals to work in a rural area
where peasants have no access to modern medicines.
Woradilok, a novelist under the pen name Rapeeporn, whose
work under the title of Phandin Mai is well-known among
novel readers. Kamsing Srinok, who is also known under the
pen name of Lao Kam Hom, is a low-profiled but powerful
writer, whose short stories recreate northeastern village
life. His most acclaimed short story, Fa Bo Kan is about
the hardship the Northeasterners must face during a cruel
drought. Both Suwat Woradilok and Kamsing Srinok won the
National Artist status.
Boonthavi, who wrote Luk Isan; Chart Korbjitti, whose
works are Kham Phiphaksa, The Judgement, and Wela; Vanich
Charungkichanand, with his collection of short stories
entitled Soi Dieo Kan, are all awardees of the Southeast
Asian Writers Award (SEAWRITE).
well-known contemporary female novelists whose names are worth
mentioning here are : the late Supa Devakul, who was not only a
popular known novelist but also a stage and television
playwright; Wimol Siripaibul, with her well-known pen names
Thomayanti and Rose- la-rain, Penkae Wong Sa-Nga or her real
name Penkae Vajanasuntorn, Nopakun Jittayasotorn, under her pen
name Man Supiti, and Winita Dithiyon, under her pen name Wor
Kalayanapong is a leading Thai contemporary poet whose language
is most eloquent and impressive. One of his distinguished works,
Lamnam Phu Kradung draws great admiration as its literary work
paints the beauty and vitality of nature and campaigns against
environmental degradations. He has won both the SEAWRITE Award
and the National Artis status.
popular Thai contemporary poet, Naowarat Phongpaiboon, writes in
a traditional style although his topics are current. His odes to
such emotions as love, despair, and hope are laced with
beautiful lyrics. He has won both the SEAWRITE Award and the
National Artist status. His most famous work, entitled Khian
Phaendin, is the fruit of his journey to all corners of Thailand
from where he recorded the beauty and admiration of local
landscapes in words and wins utmost popularity among the Thais.
transformation of the world by science and technology is one of
the things that separates present day literary works from those
of the pase. Writers depend not only upon a general public
perception of reality, as in the past, but also upon their own
instincts and insights which they express as a kind to personal
vision, sometimes to make their readers see and think in a new
was inevitable that Thai artists in the age of technology would
find new subjects and forms of expression in addition to more
foreign influences, the arts have begun to move in different
directions which modern Thais can relate to. Yet the beauty of
the old has not lost its ability to inspire, and despite the
inroads made by modern culture, it continues to hold its own and
even to show signs of revival in many areas.
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