Saturday, August 13, 2011

Event at the Conference: Book Launch by Professor Pasuk Pongpaijit and Dr. Chris Baker

One of the key events at the Thai Studies conference is the launch of "Khun Chang Khun Phaen" (ขุนช้างขุนแผน ฉบับแปล) by our keynote speaker Prof. Pongpaijit and Dr.Baker. The following part has been published in Bangkok Post 0n 24/11/10

From 'Khun Phaen flees with Wanthong' by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit

Now everything's a disaster. I left my home to come and sleep in the wild where there are no lights, only the moon, no roof, only the shade of a tree.

Oh, the misfortune of being born a woman! I should be happy, but I cannot be. I went astray in love's pleasures without thinking of shame. Because I wasn't strong-willed, I now suffer.

It's a waste to have beautiful looks, a pretty name, and a gentle manner if you have a terribly wicked heart. The good in me is the best in the land; the bad, nobody can match.

I can't be angry at Khun Phaen. Out of love he had the nerve to come after me, and spirit me off to the forest, unafraid of the clamour of a court case. He offered his life in exchange for me, Wanthong.

I can't quit now. I have to go with him. Whether I die is down to fortune.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Outlook Section, Beyond the letters, Vasana Chinvarakorn, 22/11/2010, link)

Khun Chang Khun Phaen - a Thai epic poem and one of the most important works in Thai literature, a story of a love triangle that ends in tragedy, originates in a folktale that was written down for the first time in the early 1800s, the story runs as follows:

"Khun Phaen (dashing but poor) and Khun Chang (rich but ugly) compete for the lovely Wanthong from childhood for over fifty years. Their contest involves two wars, several abductions, a suspected revolt, an idyllic sojourn in the forest, two court cases, trial by ordeal, jail, and treachery. Ultimately the king condemns Wanthong to death for failing to choose between the two men. The poem was written down in the early nineteenth century, and a standard printed edition first published in 1917–1918. Like many works with origins in popular entertainment, it is fast-moving and stuffed full with heroism, romance, sex, violence, rude-mechanical comedy, magic, horror, and passages of lyrical beauty. In Thailand, the story is universally known. Children learn passages at school, and the poem is a source of songs, popular sayings, and everyday metaphors."

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