Husband wife team Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit worked for years on this scholarly translation. Thorough annotations and comparisons of different versions of the tale are what makes this pathbreaking edition unique.
The epic poem Khun Chang Khun Phaen ranks among the most well-known works of classical Thai literature.
Perhaps the most famous translation was by Thailand's great man of letters Prince Damrong Ratchanupob.
The recently completed translation has been a work-in-progress for a long time (See 2008 article and see publisher's page with additional information)
Only a small excerpt is taken from the much longer Bangkok Post article which includes more excerpts as well as a discussion of the long history of translating this important work. Read the full article here.
The authors Drs. Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit are a unique wife and husband scholarly team that has been tremendously prolific over the last decade producing such important works as A History of Thailand (2005) published in Cambridge history series, Thaksin (2004, 2009) a definitive biography and Thai Capital: After the 1997 Crisis. (2008).
The photo above is the thought-provoking book cover of the new translation.
Please pretend that it is a woman reading this monologue by Wanthong:
Click button to listen to Thai Epic Khun Chang Khun Phaen and rightclick to download
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." (See Wikipedia) ขุนช้างขุนแผน
love triangle - a romantic relationship involving three people, often tragic รักสามเส้า, ความรักระหว่างบุคคล 3 คน (See Wikipedia)
tragedy (noun) - a work of literature in which people suffer or die, especially when the main character dies at the end โศกนาฏกรรม, เรื่องเศร้า, เรื่องโศกเศร้า (See Wikipedia)
tragic (adjective) - when a story or a series of events has an unhappy ending (with some people suffering in the end)
epic - a long story from the distant past telling of great events, which over time has become full of meaning for some nation or ethnic group (See Wikipedia)
ranks - has a position, level, value, or status compared to others in a group (example: the student ranked first in her class)
classic (noun) - a work of art or literature of such high quality that it has become a standard that other works are judged by
scholar (noun) - a person who has studied a subject for a long time and knows a lot about the subject
translate (verb) - to create a version of a text (with the same meaning) in another language
translation (noun) - a version of a text in a language different than the original การแปล
annotation - a note added to a text to explain it คำอธิบายประกอบ
text - a piece of writing (article, book, etc) การเขียน
version - a form of something that is different from the original and from other forms that come afterwards
edition - when a book is updated or changed and republished ฉบับพิมพ์ครั้งที่,จำนวนพิมพ์ครั้งที่, การพิมพ์ครั้งที่ (if not changed then called a "reprint")
unique - different from everything else, very special
pathbreaking - doing something new for the first time
work - a book, painting, piece of architecture (some final product that has taken a long time to make and required much skill and artistry)
work-in-progress - currently working on the work, not yet completed
man of letters - man who writes novels, poetry etc or books about literature
Prince Damrong Rajanubhab - ( 21 June 1862 – 1 December 1943) "the founder of the modern Thai education system as well as the modern provincial administration. He was also a self-taught historian, and one of the most influential intellectuals of his time" in Thailand สมเด็จพระเจ้าบรมวงศ์เธอ กรมพระยาดำรงราชานุภาพ (See Wikipedia)
prolific - producing a lot มีผลมาก
definitive - the most complete สมบูรณ์ที่สุด
thought-provoking - interesting in a way that makes you think of new ideas or that changes your attitude to something
pretend - act like someone you are not แกล้งทำว่าเป็นจริง
monologue - a speech or talk given by one person บทพูดคนเดียว
Wanthong - the main female character in the novel, the woman who the two main male characters are fighting over
disaster - something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage or kills a lot of people ความหายนะ ภัยพิบัติ
in the wild - in the jungle
went astray - become lost and go to the wrong place or do the wrong thing
shame - a feeling very bad (embarrassment) when you do something wrong and people see it, loss of self-respect ความอับอาย, ความน่าละอายใจ
will - the ability to make decisions and work hard to achieve results without quitting, determination, resolution ความตั้งใจ
strong-willed - works very hard to achieve results
suffer - to experience physical or mental pain
have beautiful looks - be beautiful
gentle - softly, calmly, without force อ่อนโยน, ใจดี, มีเมตตา,
manner - a way of doing things (example: she greeted them in a friendly manner) ท่าทาง
wicked - evil, very bad, doing very bad and cruel things to hurt other people ชั่วร้าย
terribly wicked - very very wicked
the best in the land - the best in the country
nobody can match - no person is equal (she is the worst)
manner - way วิธีการ
land - to get or achieve something good, especially in a way which seems easy or unexpected ได้รับ
match - to look the same as or very similar to something else ซึ่งไม่คู่ควร
nerve - bravery or confidence necessary to do something difficult, unpleasant or rude ความกล้า
spirit me off to... - carry me away from this place to another place, transport me to some place
clamour - loud noise
X in exchange for Y - give X to get Y
fortune - luck โชค
X is down to Y - Y is the reason for X