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Isan Writers, Thai Literature

Writing and Regionalism in Modern Thailand

Martin B. Platt

Publication Year: 2013

Regional characteristics and regional language feature prominently in discussions of Thai identity, but there is little mention of regional literatures. In northeastern Thailand’s Isan region, authors write primarily in Thai, but it is possible nonetheless to identify an Isan literature, which played a significant and at times pivotal role in the development of Thai literature in the second half of the 20th century, as authors grappled with how their origins and experiences related to the Thai centre. Martin Platt’s account of Isan literature is an important first step toward a broader study of regional literatures in Thailand, and shapes a model that has relevance for examining literary works in other Asian countries.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-7

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pp. viii-ix

This book attempts to investigate, and hopefully encourage further interest in, modern Thai literature. It examines Isan writers, the modern literature they produce, and the role that both have played in the development of Thailand’s national literature. Thus this is simultaneously a literary history and a study...

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pp. x-xix

One learns early on in Thailand that the country is composed of four distinct regions, and that each of these has its own language and characteristics. The stereotypes surrounding the regions are so commonly held and heard as to be unquestioned: the north is inhabited by attractive, light-skinned people...

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Chapter 1: What Makes Isan a Region?

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pp. 1-35

Isan is a region distinct from the rest of Thailand. Recognition of this fact is reflected in all aspects of the country and its activities: government policies, newspaper reports, television shows, music performances, political campaigns, tourism promotions, educational planning, agricultural research,...

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Chapter 2: Early Isan Writers

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pp. 36-61

Modern Isan literature, i.e., writing in Thai by Isan writers, arose in the late 1950s. Writers from Isan who might have been active prior to that time would have been indistinguishable from central Thai writers. Fiction production in the first half of the 20th century was exclusively an urban...

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Chapter 3: Isan Comes to the Center

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pp. 62-108

The year 1963 marked the beginning of a new era for Thai literature, and even though Bangkok remained the literary center of the country, Isan and Isan writers played a major role in this new era. FM Thanom Kittikachorn took power after Sarit’s death, and the so-called “dark age” began to lift....

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Chapter 4: Isan Writing Enters the Mainstream

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pp. 109-138

Of all the many Isan writers active in the 1970s, two in particular stood out, gaining recognition from official institutions of Thai literature: Khamphun Bunthawi and Khamman Khonkhai. Khamman’s fame was largely the result of the film that was made of one of his books, Khru Ban No’k...

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Chapter 5: The Rise of Regionalism

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pp. 139-179

Though the Literature for Life movement flourished in the mid-1970s, those blossoms were soon to yield bitter fruit. The events of October 6, 1976 forced a polarization in which politically active students and intellectuals had to decide where their loyalties lay. Those who fled to the jungle either...

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Chapter 6: Isan Writing at the End of the 20th Century

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pp. 180-224

Isan literary culture at the end of the 20th century was a complex agglomeration of people, publications, and events. While the outside observer might tend to think of literature in terms of books on a shelf, or perhaps short pieces in a magazine, and thus might be tempted to focus on texts,...

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Chapter 7: Conclusion: Isan Writers, Thai Literature

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pp. 225-233

In considering the subject of Isan regionalism in the context of modern Thai literature, three primary issues must be addressed: 1) what makes Isan a region, and how do its distinctive qualities come to play in literature; 2) who is considered an Isan writer and why; and 3) what is the nature of Isan writing,...


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pp. 234-246


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pp. 247-249

E-ISBN-13: 9789971697631
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971696979

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: New