Among the members of the Centre for Translation Studies there are experts on many languages and cultures across Asia and Africa. Naturally, we translate many materials, including academic texts, literature and poetry. In Asia and Africa, translation is often seen as a part of academic work, and we are proud of our translations. Here is a selection of translations from our members.
- (2004) Qur’an. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
It’s a 'New Translation' of the Qur'an and has been very well received. Professor Haleem is also the editor of a series called 'London Qur'an Studies' which, among other things, translates important works on the Qur'an from Arabic and other languages in to English. Two works have appeared, both by M.A. Draz, translated from French into English:
(1) An Introduction to the Qur'an
(2) The Moral World of the Qur'an
Professor Haleem has also started publishing short pieces of translation in the Journal of Qur'anic Studies.
- (2008) Tempo. In Made in China. Milano: Mondadori. Liu, Yichang. (1981) Shijian. In Tiantang yu diyu. Guangzhou: Huacheng chuban she.
- (2008) Mirabilia della città fluttuante. In Made in China. Milano: Mondadori. Xi, Xi. (1988) Fu Cheng Zhi Yi. In Shou juan. Taipei: Hong fan shudian chuban she.
- (2008) II Caso Mary. In Made in China. Milano: Mondadori. Xi, Xi. (1988) Mali ge an. In Shou juan. In Shou juan. Taipei: Hong fan shudian chuban she.
- (2004) Londra. In L’astuzia delle emozioni. Milano: Skira. Yang, Lian. (2003) Lundun. In Yang Lian zuopin. Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chuban she.
- (2004) La casa sull'estuario. In L’astuzia delle emozioni. Milano: Skira. Yang, Lian. (2003) He kou shang de fangjian. In Yang Lian zuopin. Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chuban she.
- (2004) Zurigo. Un cigno. In L’astuzia delle emozioni. Milano: Skira. Yang, Lian. (2003) Yi zhi Sulishi de tian'e. In Yang Lian zuopin. Shanghai Shanghai wenyi chuban she.
- (2004) II teatro delle ombre. In L’astuzia delle emozioni. Milano: Skira. Yang, Lian. (2003) Ying xi. In Yang Lian zuopin. Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) La chiave della domenica. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997). Xingqiri de yaoshi. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Cena. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997). ‘Wancan’. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Autunno: ascoltando un concerto della violencellista scomparsa Du Pré. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997). ‘Qiutian: ting yigu nüdatiqinjia Du Pré yanzou’. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Un'altra estate. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997). ‘Ling yi ge xiatian’. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Nell’ascensore. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997) Diandi zhong. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Il nostro sonno, la nostra fame. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997) Women de shuiian, women de ji'e. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Aquiloni di fuoco. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997) Fengzheng huoniao. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Chi va chi resta. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1997) Shei qu shei liu. In Shei qu shei liu. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) La scrittura poetica cinese dopo l’89. In forma di parole. Ouyang, Jianghe. (1993) 89 hou guonei shige xiezuo. Jintian.
- (1999) Vecchio amico. In forma di parole. Qu, Youyuan. (1995) Lao you. Renmin wenxue.
- (1999) Sogno d’amore. In forma di parole. Qu, Youyuan. (1995) Lian meng. Renmin wenxue.
- (1999)Allo specchio. In forma di parole. Qu, Youyuan. (1995) Lan jing zi zhao. Renmin wenxue.
- (1999) Oltre il bordo. In forma di parole. Qu, Youyuan. (1995) Zai bianyuan yiwai. Renmin wenxue.a
- (1999) Ieri. In forma di parole.Qu, Youyuan. (1996) Zuotian. Dajia.
- (1999) Presagio. In forma di parole. Xi, Chuan. (1997) Yugan. In Yinmi de huihe. Beijing: Gaige chuban she.
- (1999) Le cose che ho conservato fino ad oggi. In forma di parole. Xi, Chuan. (1997)
- Zhexie wo baocun zhijin de dongxi. In Dayi ruci. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) S 12121. In forma di parole. Xi, Chuan. (1997) S 12121. In Dayi ruci. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999). Omaggio. In forma di parole. Xi, Chuan. (1997) Zhijing. In Dayi ruci. Changsha: Hunan wenyi chuban she.
- (1999) Evento: alla ricerca di Deserto. In forma di parole. Yu, Jian. (1993) Shijian: xunzhao huangyuan. In Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming. Yunnan: Guoji Wenhua Chuban She.
- (1999) Evento: conversazione. In forma di parole. Yu, Jian. (1993) Shijian: tanhua. In Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming. Yunnan: Guoji wenhua chuban gongsi.
- (1999) Il tappo della bottiglia di birra. In forma di parole. Yu, Jian. (1993) Pijiu ping gai. In Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming. Yunnan: Guoji Wenhua Chuban She.
- 28. (1999) Lo steccato. In forma di parole. Yu, Jian. (1993) Liba. In Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming. Yunnan: Guoji Wenhua Chuban Gongsi.
- (1999) Il suono caduto. In Forma di parole.Yu, Jian. (1993) Jiangluo de Shengyin. In Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming. Yunnan: Guoji Wenhua Chuban Gongsi.
- (1999) Un mucchio di bidoni vicino alla ferrovia. In forma di parole. Yu, Jian. (1993) Tielu fujin de yidui youtong. In Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming. Yunnan: Guoji Wenhua Chuban Gongsi.
- (2013) Haiku: Love. London: The British Museum Press.
- (2013) Benten the Thief. In: Jones, Sumie and Watanabe, Kenji, (eds.), An Edo Anthology: Literature From Japan's Mega-City, 1750-1850. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 301-321.
- --- and Emmert, Richard (2003) Viewing the Autumn Foliage / Momijigari. In: Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L., (eds.), Kabuki Plays on Stage. Volume 4: Restoration and Reform, 1872-1905. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 302-325.
- --- and Hibino, Kei (2002) The Three Kichisas and the New Year’s First Visit to the Pleasure Quarters [Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai]. In: Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L., (eds.), Kabuki Plays on Stage. Vol.3: Darkness and Desire, 1804-1864. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
- (2002) Gorozō the Gallant [Gosho no Gorozō]. In: Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L., (eds.), Kabuki Plays on Stage. Vol.3: Darkness and Desire, 1804-1864. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 290-317.
- 6. (2002) The Temple Gate and the Paulownia Crest [Sanmon Gosan no Kiri]. In: Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L., (eds.), Kabuki Plays on Stage. Vol.2: Villainy and Vengeance, 1773-1799. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 72-81.
- (2002) The Revenge at Tengayamura [Katakiuchi Tengayamura]. In: Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L., (eds.), Kabuki Plays on Stage. Vol.2: Villainy and Vengeance, 1773-1799. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 134-171.
- (2002) The Golden Pavilion [Kinkakuji]. In: Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L., (eds.), Kabuki Plays on Stage. Vol.1: Brilliance & Bravado, 1697-1766. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 288-313.
- (2014) The Youth of Things: Life and Death in the Age of Kajii Motojirô. Honolulu: Hawai’i University Press. (Contains translations of twenty short stories.)
- (2013) The Storyteller of Jerusalem: The Life and Times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-1948, ed. by Issam Nassar and Salim Tamari, trans. by Nada Elzeer, Interlink Books.
- (2010) The Memoirs of Wasif Jawhariyah in Ottoman Jerusalem and Mandate Jerusalem, an English translation (forthcoming).
- (2010) Language-based humour and the untranslatable: the case of Ziad Rahbani's theatre in Humour and Translation, ed. by Delia Carmela Chiaro, Continuum Books in press).
- (2005) Butrus: A Distant Cloudy Face. translation of the short storyButrus wajh ġā’im ba‘īd by Mansurah Izzedine in Sardines and Oranges, Banipal Books.
- (1999) The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin Classics
One of the great masterpieces of world literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh is the tale of one man’s struggle against death. Not content with the immortal renown won by reckless deeds, the hero of the epic seeks immortality itself and journeys to the ends of the earth and beyond. There he hears the story of how the gods made a great Flood sweep the earth and learns the different destinies of gods and mortals. Though this great epic is best known from the revised version current in the first millennium BC, it was originally the work of an anonymous Babylonian poet who lived more than 3,700 years ago. He composed the epic in the Akkadian language but the literary traditions of Gilgamesh go back to five poems in Sumerian, and these are even older. All these texts are today being reconstructed from the many thousands of clay tablets recovered in the past century and a half from the mounds that bury the cities of ancient Mesopotamia. Andrew George’s translation for Penguin Classics includes the fullest translation of the Babylonian epic and fragments possible to date, and, for the first time in one place in English, the text of all the Sumerian poems. The translations are accompanied by an introduction that places the epic in the context of the history of ancient Mesopotamian literature and mythology. An appendix describes the process by which a text written in the cuneiform script on fragmentary clay tablets can be reconstructed as a piece of Babylonian poetry and rendered into a modern language.
- (2014) Shunga: Enjoy in English and Japanese : Kitagawa Utamaro "Negai no itoguchi : prelude to desire"英語と現代文でたのしむ春画 : 喜多川歌麿「願ひの糸ぐち」Subarusha, 63 pp.
- (2013) Shunga: Ten Questions and Answers, author Monta Hayakawa, trans by Andrew Gerstle. Nichibunken Monograph Series, no. 14, Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 121 pp.
- (2010) Bidô nichiya johôki 『艶道日夜女宝記』 (A treasure book for women on the way of love – day and night).Trans. and Introduction (Kinsei enpon shiryô shûsei, no. 5). Kyoto, International Research Center for Japanese Studies.
- (2009) Great Pleasure for Women and Their Treasure Boxes & Love Letters and a River of Erect Precepts for Women by Tsukioka Settei. Translation. Hollywood, CA. Highmoonoon. 66 pp.
- (2007) Onna shimegawa oeshi-bumi 『女令川おへし文』 (Love Letters and Erect Precepts for Women). ed. and trans. (Nichibunken series, Kinsei enpon shiryô shûsei, no. IV), Kyoto, International Research Center for Japanese Studies. 129pp.
- (2002) Chûshingura: Kanpei's Suicide, The Heike and the Island of Women' and ‘Gappô at the Crossroads. in Haruo Shirane, ed., Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology 1600-1868. Columbia University Press. pp. 301-313; 392-410; 435-448.
- (2001, 2002) Chikamatsu: Five Late Plays. Columbia University Press, 527pp
- (Forthcoming) ‘Selected Poetry of Gĩtahi Gĩtĩtĩ writing in Gĩkũyũ.’ With introduction.
- (2010) Translation of Swahili short story, ‘Mke Wangu’ (My wife) by Mohammed S Abdallah, into Gĩkũyũ ('Mũtumia Wakwa,' JC Press)
- (2008) My book, Afromexicans also involved a lot of translation of primary sources including recorded conversations, Mexican ballads (corridos), modern periodicals and and archival material, some of them in 15th-18th century Spanish.
- (2002) Diccionario Swahili-Español, El Colegio de Mexico, Centro de Estudios de Asia y Africa. Mexico, ISBN:968-12-1075.
- Compiling this bilingual dictionary involved a lot of translation of language and culture to reflect modern Swahili.
- (1992) “Shaaban Bin Robert y el Mensaje de la Poesía Swahili.” In Africa Inventando el Futuro, Centro de Estudios de Asia y Africa, El Colegio de México, Celma Agüero Doná (ed). Mexico. Translation in Spanish, of selected poems by famous Swahili poet, Shaaban bin Robert.
- (Unpublished) Unmarked Grave (Unpublished Translation of a well known Swahili novel set during Kenya's fight for independence).
- (Unpublished) Pinokio (Unpublished Translation of Pinocchio into Swahili).
- (1994) Sidaoru’ang: A Drop of Glass and Other Stories: Duang Kamol. Sidaoru’ang. (1975-1990). Sidaoru’ang: Kaew yot diaw: Met Sai.
This is a translation of a collection of 14 short stories by the same author – Sidaoru’ang (b.1941). The selection was made by the author and the translator and covers a range of the author’s work from her earliest short stories, published in 1975, to her later work form the late 1980s. The collection is prefaced with a long introduction on the career of the author; the literary, social and political context in which the stories were written; and an analysis of the stories themselves.
- --- and Fee, Toby (2008) Love poems of the sixth Dalai Lama. (1, 2, 4, 25, 34, 36, 50, and 52.). The Harvard Advocate, Winter . pp. 80-91.
- The 6th Dalai Lama is one of Tibet’s most famous poets and folk heros. These translations are the first time these poems have been rendered in English based on a critical edition of the Tibetan text, and matching the meter of the Tibetan originals.
- --- and Fee, Toby. (2008) Love poems of the sixth Dalai Lama: The Harvard Advocate.
- 6th Dalai Lama, Tshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho. (18th century).
- The 6th Dalai Lama is one of Tibet’s most famous poets and folk heroes. These translations are the first time these poems have been rendered in English based on a critical edition of the Tibetan text, and matching the meter of the Tibetan originals.
- (2007) An Introduction to the text of the Newly Discovered Khrom chen Stele [Translation of 'gsar du rnyed pa'i khrom chen rdo ring yi ge mtshams sbyor' by Pa tshab pa sang dbang 'dus]. The Tibet Journal . pp. 3-9.
- This is a journal article; it introduced the scholarly public to a newly discovered Old Tibetan inscription. The author is one of the leading historians of the Old Tibetan period and a professor at the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.
- (2007) An Introduction to the text of the Newly Discovered Khrom chen Stele. The Tibet Journal. Pa tshab pa sang dbang 'dus. (1997) gsar du rnyed pa'i khrom chen rdo ring yi ge mtshams sbyor: Bod ljongs zhib ‘jug.
- This is a journal article; it introduced the scholarly public to a newly discovered Old Tibetan inscription. The author is one of the leading historians of the Old Tibetan period and a professor at the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.
- (2008, 2015) Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Contemporary Linguistic Theory Series. Beijing: China Social Science Publishing House. pp. 1-432. (translation from English to Chinese)
- and Naruki Enomoto. (2002) 現代外国語：英国ナショナルカリキュラム: The Japan Foundation, Department for Education and Employme, Qualification and Curriculum Authority. (1999) Modern Foreign Languages, The National Curriculum for England, Key stages 3-4 The Stationary Office.
This translation sets out the legal requirements of the National Curriculum in England for modern foreign languages in Key stages 3 – 4 in Japanese. It aims to provide information to help Japanese teachers implement modern foreign languages in their schools.
- (2009) War and Peace: An Anthology of Somali Literature: Progressio & Ponte Invisibile. Rashiid Sheekh Cabdullaahi 'Gadhweyne'. (2009) Suugaanta Nabadda iyo Colaadda: Progressio & Ponte Invisibile.
This is a collection of poems and stories from the early part of the twentieth century which relate to war and peace in Somali society. The book is a bilingual edition with the original texts, an extensive introduction by the editor, an introduction to the translation and the translation of the whole text of the Somali introduction, the poems and the stories. This is the largest collection of Somali poetry translated in one publication and is an important contribution to the study of early Somali poetry.
- --- and Herbert, WN. (2008) Poems: Enitharmon. Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye'. (2008) Maansooyin: Enitharmon.
This is a bilingual edition of some poems by the famous poet Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye'. The translations were made jointly by Martin Orwin and WN Herbert and were published on behalf of the Poetry Translation Centre. The publication coincided with readings by Gaarriye and WN Herbert and Martin Orwin as part of the World Poets' Tour (2008) around the United Kingdom.
- (2001) Samadoon: Modern Poetry in Translation. Cabdulqaadir Xaaji Cali Xaaji Axmed. (1995) Samadoon. unpublished.
A powerful poem made on the situation in Somalia in 1995. The translation was published in one of the important modern poetry journals in the UK.
- (2001) Has Love Been Blood-written. Modern Poetry in Translation. Maxamed Ibraahim Warsame 'Hadraawi’. (1993) Jacayl Dhiig Ma Lagu Qoray: Hal-Karaan in Kleppe, Norway.
A very well-known poem by one of the most important Somali poets. The translation was published in an important poetry magazine of poetry in translation in the UK.
- (2004) Japanese politeness in the work of Minami Fujio, in SOAS Working papers in Linguistics 13:269-280
- (2004) Keigo [partial translation of Minami Fujio’s Keigo, Tokyo: Iwanami shinsho, 1987], in SOAS Working papers in Linguistics 13:281-311
- (2011) Translators, voices and values, written by Theo Hermans, in Sato-Rossberg (ed.), Translation Studies, Misuzu: Tokyo
The original of this book chapter was written by Prof Theo Hermans. This was the first time for his writing has been translate into Japanese. His paper discusses what values translations can have and how one can hear the voices of translators. Thus this publication gave Japanese unfamiliar with the English language access to Prof Hermans’ thoughts.
- (2011) Japan quake and tsunami: Steel in an old woman's smile proves why Japanese spirit will never be broken, written by Tony Parsons, Web News Paper Mirror http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/03/15/japan-quake-and-tsunami-steel-in-an-old-woman-s-smile-proves-why-japanese-spirit-will-never-be-broken-tony-parsons-story-translated-into-japanese-115875-22991298/
The tragic Tohoku earthquake struck Japan on 11 March 2011. This is a translation of Tony Parson’s thoughts for the people in Tohoku. I was asked by Mirror to translate his message to encourage the Japanese people. The translation had to be submitted within 5 hours, and it was challenging to convey the author’s feelings adequately in this emotional situation.
- (2009) The Dreams of an Idealist: Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books. Navarat, Nimitmongkol. (1946, 1947) Khwam Fan Kho’ng Nak Udomkhati: Niphan.
MR Nimitmongkol Navarat is one of the tragic figures of modern Thai literature. He spent almost half of his adult life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, and died prematurely, just before his fortieth birthday.
It was as a political prisoner in the late 1930s, that M.R. Nimitmongkol wrote The Dreams of an Idealist. The manuscript, originally written in English, was seized by prison guards and the author dispatched to the notorious penal colony on Koh Tao. On his release, he re-wrote the book in Thai and published it in two volumes in 1946-7.
There are many close parallels between the experiences of Roong, the hero of The Dreams of an Idealist, and those of M.R. Nimitmongkol. Roong, too, was arrested after the Boworadej rebellion (1933) and while in prison, became familiar with the works of Western philosophers, economists, psychologists and early 20th century intellectuals, which influence his thinking on how Siamese society in the future should be moulded. And like the author, Roong’s refusal to bow before the military authorities leads to his demise.
This volume also includes a translation of the author’s short autobiographical memoir, A Victim of Two Political Purges (1946), and the play, The Emerald’s Cleavage, which the author wrote in English in the late 1930s. The memoir provides further chilling insight into the workings of the Phibun régime, and in particular the ‘Special Courts’ set up to deal with political opponents. The play, which was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, is a biting satire on the morally-flawed and opportunistic political élite that ruled Siam in the late 1930s.
- (2003) No Way Out. Nakhorn Rachasima, Thailand: Howling Books. Korbjitti, Chart. (1980). Chon Tro’k: Ton Mak.
Chart Korbjitti (1954-) is Thailand’s most highly-regarded living novelist. He has twice won the prestigious SEA Write Award, for Kham Phiphaksa (‘The Judgement’, 1981) and Wela (‘Time’, 1993) both of which have been translated in to English by Marcel Barang. No Way Out (1980) was quickly adapted for both television and film and marked Chart out as one of the most interesting writers to emerge in the early 1980s.
No Way Out is a carefully structured and tightly written work, which teases and challenges the reader with its frequent flashbacks, inferences and half explanations. The novel deals with the tragic consequences of a slum-dweller’s attempt to buy a home for his family. Boonma, an illiterate factory worker, borrows money from a local Chinese businessman. But he gets into difficulty repaying the loan and as the interest spirals, his dreams of domestic happiness are shattered. From this point Chart visits upon Boonma’s family an endless succession of disasters. His debt is legally transferred to another businessman, and he finds himself working on a trawler, illegally fishing in Burmese territorial waters, where he is captured and imprisoned. Meanwhile his wife becomes pregnant by another man, his daughter turns to drugs, self-mutilation and prostitution, his grandfather is mugged, is crippled as a result and later commits suicide, and his eldest son is arrested for stealing. These events unfold against a vivid portrayal of the insecurities, exploitation and harsh day-to-day conditions endured by slum dwellers and fishermen.
Chart avoids the pitfall of sentimentality by making Boonma a flawed character, who, for all his good intentions, is actually the architect of his family’s disintegration. His ultimate failed suicide attempt is the final humiliating proof of Boonma’s failure to exercise any mastery over his own life.
- (1990, 2000) Behind the Painting and other stories. Singapore: Oxford University Press. ‘Siburapha’ (Kulap Saipradit). (1938) Khang Lang Phap: Nai Thep Pricha.
Siburapha (pseud. of Kulap Saipradit ,1905-74) is one of the most important figures in the devlopment of the novel in Thailand and a major figure in Thai intellectual history of the 20th century. He first made his name as an accomplished writer of romantic fiction, but by the age of 30 he had become a successful newspaper editor and political columnist.
In the late 1940s his fiction had become primarily a means for highlighting social injustice and criticizing the government. He was imprisoned in 1952 in a government clamp-down on those with left-wing sympathies, and in 1958, a year after his release, he went into exile in China, rather than risk further imprisonment under a new military régime. He died in Beijing in 1974 without ever returning to his homeland. His later short stories and novels, with their uncompromising political message, were rediscovered, reprinted and promoted during the early 1970s by a newly-emerging, progressive Thai youth movement, for whom he became an icon. This new audience and new acclaim, added to the high reputation he had enjoyed amongst his contemporaries since the late 1920s, ensured that when the first serious attempts to plot the history of the Thai novel were attempted in the mid 1970s, he would be accorded a central position.
Siburapha's reputation continued to grow throughout the 1980s, with major reprints of his earlier works, collections of miscellaneous articles by him, a volume of 'thoughts' taken from his works and a steady stream of newspaper and magazine articles about him. A ‘Siburapha Foundation’ was established in 1988 which awards a prestigious annual literary prize in his name, and now publishes an annual magazine; a Siburapha Road was opened in Bangkok in 1998; and in 2003 he was named, along with Jules Verne and Hans Christian Andersen, as a ‘UNESCO Writer of the Year’.
This volume brings together Siburapha’s most popular novel, Behind the Painting (1938) and three of his later short stories. Behind the Painting is a confessional novel, set partly against an exotic Japanese background in which the author skilfully evokes a young man’s awakening to the frailty of his own romantic feelings. Most Thai critics have admired the work for the author’s sensitivity to the plight of women, and his portrayal of M.R. Kirati, the heroine, whose life has been restricted by oppressive social conventions, and finally dies, ‘with no one to love me, yet content that I have someone to love.’ In the late 1940s a young critic offered a Marxist interpretation of the novel in which he argued that the heroine’s death was symbolic of the demise of the old Siamese aristocracy following the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
The short stories, Those Kind of People (1950), Lend Us a Hand (1950) and The Awakening (1952), stand in sharp contrast to the elegantly crafted novel. They portray the struggles of ordinary people to get by from one day to the next in a world controlled by an uncaring and exploiting ruling class
- --- and Manas Chitakasem (eds and translators) (1998) Anthology of modern short stories compiled by translators. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
This volume consists of the following twelve short stories translated and introduced by David Smyth and Manas Chitakasem: Those Kind of People - ‘Siburapha’
Chilled to the Heart - Suwanni Sukhontha
The Final of the Miss Thailand Contest – Anuj Aphaphirom
Name Tag – ‘Lao Khamhom’
Human Beings Can Be Like This – Suchit Wongthet
Please Don’t Let Him Realize – Nikhom Rayawa
Song of Farewell – Benchaphorn Amornlak
Sida Extinguishes the Flames – ‘Sidaoru’ang’
The Sergeant’s Garland – Atsiri Thammachot
History Must Be Retold – Atsiri Thammachot
The Enemy Within – Chart Korbjitti
Middle of the Road Family – Sila Khomchai
- (1994) The Prostitute: Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia: Oxford University Press. K. Surangkhanang (Kanha Khiengsiri). (1937) Ying Khon Chua.
‘Ko’ Surangkhanang’ (pseud. of Kanha Khiengsiri, (1911-99) is one of Thailand’s most prolific and most popular female novelists. In a career spanning five decades, she published almost fifty novels,several of which were later made into films and tv series. Her most highly-regarded work is Ying Khon Chua (The Prostitute, 1937), which created considerable controversy at the time for its sympathetic portrayal of prostitutes.
In the introduction to the first edition, Kanha voiced her irritation with those who questioned her choice of subject. Her novel was written, she explained, ‘out of a feeling of sympathy and compassion’ for prostitutes, and as a challenge to conventional beliefs that such women are always bad.
‘High class women’, she adds provocatively, ‘may have base minds, just as low-class women may be noble-minded.’ In the introduction to the fourth edition, published in 1949, she went even further, describing prostitutes as ‘unfortunate younger sisters’, and dedicating the novel to them.
The Prostitute tells the story of Reun, an unsophisticated country girl who is seduced by a city pimp and tricked into prostitution. While working in a Bangkok brothel, she falls in love with a young man from an aristocratic background, who vows to rescue her. But his visits come to an abrupt end, before she has the chance to tell him that she is pregnant with his child. Much of the novel is devoted to a lively portrayal of her struggles to provide for herself and her child, and her exploitation at the hands of employers, rent-collectors, money-lenders and child-minders.
Kanha was made a ‘National Artist’ in 1986, while The Prostitute was one of the novels included in a national project in the late 1990s that identified ‘100 Outstanding Books that Thais Should Read’.
1. (2010) Das Mädchen meines Herzens: Ullstein. Bose, Buddhadeva. Moner moto meye.
- (2004) Breaking the Mirror of Urdu Verse: speech and silence in the poetry of Kishwar Naheed. Moving Worlds: a journal of transcultural writings.
- (2004) Fahmida Riaz: translated poems. Annual of Urdu Studies.
- (1999) Issues of Translation: Three Contemporary Urdu Poems. SOAS Literary Review, SOAS, London.