Three days ago I finally managed to get ML Visumitra Pramoj’s phone number and left a message on her portable to the effect that I wished to ask for permission to publish my translation of her father’s See Phaendin or Four Reigns. I understand she inherited the rights to the novel at Kukrit’s death in 1995.
‘Khun Paem’ (as ML Visumitra introduced herself) returned the call this afternoon. She had been in Chiang Mai.
The outcome of a twenty-minute conversation – retracing my relationship with her father since 1976 and with Khun Sondhi since 1974, the TMC programme started in 1994, and the difference between ‘adaptation’ and ‘translation’ – was that…
…I can put my translation away in some drawer and forget about it.
She needn’t even see a copy: her eyesight is bad these days and she can hardly read.
The existing English version by ‘Tulachandra’ (pen name of husband Tulaya and wife Chaemchand – Tun and Jaemjan in Thai pronunciation) was approved by the author, you see. She understood that he had participated in it along with the dear couple and had insisted that there should be no other translation of that work. That book, recently reprinted, is making money – mine would be in competition with it. If I published my translation as an e-book only, perhaps this could be considered, but it should generate revenue – ‘What are your terms?’
The end of the conversation went something like this:
‘You shouldn’t have translated it into English. Why didn’t you translate it into French instead?’
‘Because I happen to be employed by Khun Sondhi on an English-language literary translation programme, and no French publisher has expressed interest in this book anyway.’
‘Actually, we should be the ones hiring you for a translation and then publishing it: it’s more rewarding for us this way, wouldn’t you say?’
‘! … So how should we proceed regarding the e-book?’
‘We’ll think about it and we’ll get in touch with you. Goodbye now.’
Ah, well, only another thirty-five years to wait before the work falls into the public domain and delivers us from greed.