marcel barang


In English on 09/06/2010 at 1:41 pm


That’s how I felt this morning reading the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column in The Bangkok Post: one John C Brown reacts to ‘Life in the capital’, Wanich Jarungidanan’s short story published in the Outlook section last Monday, in exactly the way I hoped readers would when I decided to translate this particular ‘stunning story’ (his words) for publication right after the fratricidal events of the past months.

First, it’s always good to know one has at least one reader [place a Smiley here].

Second, it’s even more gratifying finding one who has enjoyed the story and understood its import thoroughly.

Mr Brown writes: ‘Reading this powerful story might help to bridge some of the gaps that we can see between the urban and rural populations in Thailand today. It might remind everyone that they all have, that they share, these kinds of connections.’

Precisely. Too bad, though, that too few of these ‘urban and rural populations’, your average commuters in the story, will have or have had the opportunity or leisure or inclination to read it, in English or even in Thai.

On another front: Kukrit Pramoj’s Four Reigns, all 350,000 words of it in my version, is, as of 3am today, ‘in the can’. I’ll print it out presently to offer a paper copy to the writer’s heirs for perusal and permission to publish.

 If I say so myself, this literary masterpiece of royal propaganda reads beautifully: while subbing it, I caught myself alternately with a smile on my lips and a lump in my throat.

One of the amazing features of this monumental work is, as the author was well aware, that, from start to finish, it revolves around a heroine, Mae Phloi, dear Phloi, who must be the most stupid of them all in the history of world fiction – and we love her! If I had time, I’d count the hundreds of references to her not having got a clue about what’s going on around her.

The formula is perfect: it allows the author to (mis)shape the world and history to her perceptions and preconceptions, and thus makes even outrageous praise of royalty credible, and it allows the reader to feel superior to or at least at ease with a next-door-neighbour kind of protagonist who, in truth, is anything but run of the mill.


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