Thailand Literature

By | September 27, 2021

The earliest testimony in the Thai language is constituted by the inscription of Rāma K’amhneg of 1292. A series of later inscriptions are attributed to King Lü Thai, but it is only with the reign of Ramath’ibodi I (1350-69) that the Thai literature begins to outline a systematic history, although a good part of the oldest works were lost in 1767 with the destruction of the capital Ayutthaya, which had been one of the main cultural centers of Siam due to the presence of the royal court. Under the reign of Botomotroilokanath (1448-88) the lilit genre poetry was established, of which the Lilit Yuen Phai is preserved (Poem of the defeat of the Yuen), which tells the victorious campaign against Ch’ieng Mai in an epic-scholarly key. But the golden age of Siamese poetry was only reached under the reign of Phra Narai (1657-88), when the Ayutthaya court was home to many great poets and writers, including Maharachakhru and Si Prat. The first poems of the genre of nirat also appear at the time of Phra Narai.

In the last period of Ayutthaya, theatrical literature developed above all, which with adaptations of stories of epic or Buddhist inspiration expanded the repertoires of the lakhon. Following the destruction of Ayutthaya, Siamese literature went through a period of decline which ended the reign of Rama I, who at the beginning of the nineteenth century undertook a vast work of restoration of literary texts and edited a complete version of Ramakien. At the same time, the revival of literary prose was ensured and a series of translations of foreign works were made, including the famous Chinese novel of the Three Kingdoms (San Kuo Chih). Even more fruitful in results was the reign of Rama II, who made the Bangkok court a cenacle of poets, of which the most famous, besides the king himself, was Sunthon Phu. The most cultivated genres remained love lyric and nirat pervaded by the melancholy of a theme dedicated to separation. A new genre, the sepha, a sort of sung tale, had its masterpiece with Rama II’s Khun Chang Khun Phen, which narrated in it an episode of sixteenth-century life in Ayutthaya. Check weddinginfashion to see Practical Information About Thailand.

Beginning with the reign of Phra Nang Klao (1824-51), the growing diffusion of Western culture began to significantly modify traditional literature. Even the language, under the influence of writers trained in Europe, was enriched in the lexicon. King Mongkut (1855-68) wrote a nirat on his trip to London in 1857-58. But still throughout the nineteenth century the genres of classical poetry were cultivated and also in the first half of the century. XX there was no shortage of epigones of traditional lyric: Phya Si Sunthon Vohan (1822-1900), Luang Thammaphimon (1858-1928), Chao Phya Phaskaravong (1849-1920) and above all Phitayalongkon, who led the Thai literature until the renewal. in our day following the growing influences of Western literature. Akat Dankong, considered the pioneer of the modern Thai novel, expresses in his works the bitterness for the impossible encounter between East and West; less pessimistic than he, Kulap Saypradit in his novels follows the current of socialist realism. Thai literature of the second half of the century. XX is characterized by a great flourishing of prose, while poetry appears less developed (with the exception of the great classical lyric): if, in fact, this “people of poets” in the twentieth century was not able to express a new and original poetry, the prose has taken on a modern and universal dimension. It should be noted the considerable number of talented storytellers, a unique fact in oriental literature. We quote Dokmai Sot (1905-1965) and Botan, pseud. by Supha Lusin Sirising (b.1945). The figure of Prince Kukrit Pramoj (1911-1995) stands out, in the seventies head of the government for a few months and several times minister. Among his novels are noteworthy The Four Kingdoms (1953) and Red Bamboo (1956), grandiose historical narratives permeated by an intense religious spirit. If there are many novels (and some truly appreciable) even more vast is the short story production. In this field, the journalist Rong Wong-savun (b.1932) was the most original author. Among the contemporary writers who emerged at the end of the century are Win Lyovarin (b. 1956), author of novels and short stories such as Democracy, shaken and stirred, who served his choice of a “poorly aligned” literature in prison. Chart Korbjitti (b.1954), author of Khamphiphaksa (1981; The Judgment). Saksiri Meesomsueb (b.1957) is instead a poet, awarded in 1992 with the SEA Write Award (award for the best Southeast Asian author) for his collection That Hand is White.

Thailand Literature