Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj, Translated by Tulachandra
Kukrit Pramoj's longest book follows the lives and the families of minor courtiers from the absolute monarchy of the closing years of the last century to the Allied bombing raids on Bangkok in mid-1940's. Anyone interested in Thailand will find this an intriguing tale.
M.R. Kukrit Pramoj (1911-1995) was a phenomenon. He achieved distinction in the fields of politics, classical dance drama, and literature, while also even appearing in the Hollywood version of The Ugly American playing opposite Marlon Brando.
Among his most popular books, originally serialised in his column in Siam Rath, are his "capitalist version" of the Chinese classic of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, along with his equally astute adaptation to a Thai village setting, Phai Daeng ( Red Bamboo ), of that classic comedy of the cold war era The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi.
Two of his other works are more directly drawn from his own experience, and have also gained the same status as classics of Thai literature. Many Lives (Lai Chiwit) depicts the traditional Thai way of life already fast vanishing in the fifties. His longest book, Four Reigns (Si Phaen Din), reworks this motif in a wider setting. Unfolding from the closing years of the last century through till the mid-1940s, it begins by interweaving scenes from the lives of minor courtiers under the absolute monarchy of the day and their relationships through their extended families with the wider society beyond the palace walls. marriages and the upbringing of their children, carrying us on down through the decades of ever-changing social and political conditions in Bangkok, showing people striving to cope with the impingement of the international geopolitical struggles of the day on their own formerly more self-enclosed economy and culture.
First published in Thai 1953
This edition published in Chiang Mai 1998
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