- BOOK‹ REVIEW
- Hundred Best Thai Books in the Past Hundred Years
- (B.E. 2419-2519)
- Supported by : Thailand Research Fund (TRE)
- Project Diredtor : Witthayakorn Chiangkul
- Launched by : Cholthira Satyawadhna
- Translated by : Gessanee Maneerutt
- Having spent more than a year looking for outstanding
- works which deserve to be read, a group of experts
- identified what they believe to be the "Top
100" among the entire
- Thai books.
- Back in 1836, a team of American missionaries opened Thailand's first
- printing house, revolutionalising the literary culture of Kingdom
- of Siam and publicizing many more books. For about 162 years,
- Thai readers have continued enjoying the evergrowing list of books
- published on many diverse topics. However, the wealth and breadth of
- Thai literature is so huge that if you ask many Thai what books
- they would consider as "a must" to read, the will be at a
- to come up with a definitive list.
- The above is one of the major reasons why Mr. Witthayakorn Chiangkul,
- a writer, thinker, social critic and, Director of Social Science Research
- Institute, Rangsit University,embarked on the mammoth task of
- identifying the 100 must-read Thai books. The uimate aim is to give
- Thai readers some guidance on the best of their country's various
- fields of literary heritage.
- In late 1996, after securing around one millon
baht from the
- Thailand Research Fund, Witthayakorn Chiangkul
- a team of academics to work on the "One
Hundred Books" Thais
- should read project. On this matter, he said,
- "We do net aim at awarding or honouring
- but promoting the reading habits of Thai people,
- them many excellent but largely forgotten ones."
- He also mentioned that in the west , institutes
- and literary societies regularly drew up recommended
- from various fields. However, through the past
time, Thai readers
- have not shown any enjoyment for guidance. In
addition, he said
- the last time an official nation book selection
list drawn up by
- the Wannakhadii Samoonsaun, a literure club,
was during the reign
- of King Rama VI in 1910-1925. Included on the
"must-read" books list
- were Lilit Phra Lau in the poetic travelogue
section, I-naw (dramatic
- literature) and Saam Kok (Chinese historical
- In the intervening decades, many thousands more
books have been
- written with different tastes and styles and
only "annual book awards"
- are what bookworms have relied on to help them
discover new of even
- old literary works.
- The project was not without controversy, Witthayakorn
- "Some of those in the literary circle questioned
- if we could manage such a sophisticated task
of screening so many
- books while some doubted the value of making
- However, we believe in our objective and we,
no matter how,
- would be on the move."
- Accorkingly, despite its doubters, after the
project was started,
- it has received support from many otherbook lovers,
- good reads as well as offered access to such
"hard-to-get " from
- their personal coolections.
- Witthayakorn Chiangkul invited a group of experts,
- scholars, editors, librarians and writers, to
join the project.
- The experts were divided into two teams; one
- for reading and screening the books and the othe
guided the first
- teamwork and made comments on it. Both groups
met on a monthly
- basis to discuss the recommended ones. About
- "We'd like to offer a guide, so if anybody
- in the Thai society, generally of specifically,
- an evolutionary perspective, the list could lead
them to the
- right direction."
- Moreover, thehigh quality of many non-fiction
books were placed
- on the list as what Witthayakorn said,
- "Many non-fiction and academic writers of
the past were just
- as competent at writing as authors of literary
- the list covered some good examples of the great
- The book list was classified into two categories;
- non-literary sections. Each category, itself,
was broken down
- into sections. The literary selection included
sections for poetry,
- plays, novels, short stories, and compilations,
and the non-literary
- covered sections of history, religion and philosophy,
- literary criticism, sociology and anthropology,
politics and economics,
- and, science and natural science. He explained
- "First, we screened them by evaluating their
- under the rough framework of categories and categorized
- afterwards. As it turned out, our list consisted
of 55 books in literary,
- and 45 in non-literary,"
- For qualified books on the list, they had to
be written in the Thai
- language during A.D.1867 to A.D.1976. The dates
- 1867 was the year King Rama V ascended the throne
- a turning point
- during the modernized period of the Thai society
and 1976 was the year
- of a political blookshed - another crucial date
in the Thai history.
- Other criteria for book selection included good
use of language,
- cretivity, social reflection non-bias, popularity,
and public recognition
- of writer within Thai culture. Regarding to this,
- Witthayakorn Chiangkul said,
- "We tried to consider the "one-writer-one-book"
as a guideline,
- but there were such exceptions as Jitr Phumisak
because three of
- his books, Kawii Kaanmuang (Political Poetry),
Choom Naa Sakdina
- Thai (The Real Face of Thai Feudalism), Khwaam
Pen Maa Khaung Kham
- Siam, Thai, Lao, Lae? Khom, Lae? Laksana Thaang
- Chueue Chon-Chaat (History of Terms: Siam, Thai,
Lao and Khom,
- and the Societal Characteristics of Their Ethnonyms),
- due to his versatility. Moreover, a place had
also been found on
- the list for the traditional folk tales which
had been survived for
- many centuries through story-telling and had
only been set down
- on paper in more recent times. Such good example
- the famous folk tale about a tricky guy, appearing
in many written
- and folk versions and we choose it because it
reflects the wisdom
- of rural Thai."
- In addition, he introduced some more interesting
- such as,
- "Books by multiple writers were also included,
- Kaamanit, the romantic novel with a Buddhist
theme by Sathiankooseet
- and Naakhaprathiip, Although it is a translated
version from Karl
- adolph Gjellerup's Karmanit novel, the book enjoys
- and influence that you shoud not miss it. There
are other interesting
- selections written by non-Thai writer, such as
- who founded Silpakorn University. We also listed
- Thai (thai Sculpture) by a Belgian lawyer, R.
Langart, both of which
- were written in Thai. The selected non-literary
works, whose authors
- are anonymous, include Phrayaa Suriyaanuwat's
Saphayasaat, the first
- Thai economics text, and Phaethayasaat Songkhrau?,
- traditional medical science text."
- The selective list drew a lot of comments from
those in the literary
- field when it was publicized at the end of last
- questioning the selections are inevitable,"
- "however, we won't alter the list as we've
- our decisions based on the reason that changing
the list to please
- everyone would be an endless task. However, we
- interesting comments people made in our research
- Witthayakorn Chiangkul expects to undertak a
- in the future to indentify the must-read books
for children and
- young elite. However, he acknowledges that amidst
- economic climate, to get financial support for
it would be difficult.
- Aside from the relief of accomplishing such a
- he seems to be delighted in the task on a personal
level. "The project
- drove me to read old books, which had been ignored
for a long time.
- Books which describe the evolution of Thai society,"
- On the other hand, he said, the project had also
- poor archiving system. "Some of the books,
even those just twenty
- years old, were hard to come by as many, not
available in governmental
- libraries, had to be borrowed from private collections,"
- and added,
- "Ironically, none of the committee members
have all 100 selected
- books. I've got about 40 titles. No one or no
institution has the entire
- collection in hand."
- Witthayakorn Chiangkul and his team discussed
the project on
- March 29, 1998, at the Nation Book Fair, in Bangkok.
- for launching the project was officially held
in June, in collaboration
- with Thammasart University Library. The event
will coincide with
- the opening of Thammasart's new Pridi Phanomyong
- As a result of the project, an anthology of must-read
books is to be
- published. The 500-page-anthology will feature
a brief background
- on the selected works and their authors and an
overview of literary
- development in Thailand in the last 162 years.
- The complete list of "Hundred Best Thai
Books of the Past Hundred
- Years" is as follows:
- 1. Prachum Khlong Lookaniti (1917) - Krom Phrayaa
- 2. Seephaa Srii Thaonchai Chiangmiang - [Anonymous]
- 3. Niraat Naung Khaay - Luang Phatthanaphongphakdii
- 4. Saamakkhipheet Khamchan (1907) - Chit Burathat
- 5. Matthana-phaathaa (1923) - King Rama VI
- 6. Khlong Klaun Khaung Khruu Theep (1942)
- - Chaophrayaa Thammasakmontrii
- 7. Bot La? Khaun Rueang Phra? Lau (1953)
- - Krom Pra Naraathip-Praphanphong
- 8. Khaup Faa Klip Thaung (1956) - 'Utcheenii'
- 9. Rao Cha?na? Laew Mae Jaa (1974) - 'Naay Phii'
- 10. Bot Kawii Khaung Plueang Wannasrii - Plueang Wannasrii
- 11. Kawii Kaan Mueang (1974) - Jitr Phuumisak
- 12. Kaviiniphon khaung Angkhaan Kallayaanaphong (1964)
- - Angkhaan Kallayaanaphong
- 13. Jong Pen Aathit Muea Uthai - 'Taweep Waun'
- 14.Khaup Krung (1971) - Raat Rang-raung
- 15. Phiang Khwaam Khluean Wai (1974) - Naowarat Phongphaibuun
- 16. Lakhaun Haeng Chiiwit (1929)
- - Maum Jao Aa-Kaatdamkeung Raphiiiphat
- 17. Kaamanit (1930) - Sathisakoseet- Naakhaprathiip
- 18. Dammrong Pratheet (1931) - Wee-thaang
- 19. Phuu Chana? Sip Thit (1939) - 'Yaa-khaup'
- 20. Nueng Nai Rauy (1934) - Daukmaisot
- 21. Baang-Ra?jan (1936) - Mai Mueangdeum
- 22. Ying Khon Chua (1946) - 'K. Suraangkhanang'
- 23. Phon Nikaun Kim Nguan - 'P. Intharapaalit'
- 24. Peking-Nakhaun Haeng Khwaam Lang (1943) - Sot Kuuramaloohit
- 25. Rau Likhit-Bon Lum Sop Vaasithii - R. Janthaphimpha?
- 26. Mueang Nimit (1948) - M.R. Nimitmongkhol Nawarat
- 27. Maesaay Sa-uen (1971) - 'A. Chaiwaurasin'
- 28. Pattayaa (1951) ' - Daaw-haang'
- 29. Phaen Din Nii Khaung Khrai (1952) - Sirirat Sathaapanawat
- 30. Mahaabandit Haeng Mithilaanakhaun (1964) - Yaem Praphathaung
- 31. Piisaat (1957) - Seenii Saowaphong
- 32. Sii Phaen Din (1954) - M.R. Khuek-rit Praamoot
- 33. Thung Mahaaraat (1964) - Maalai Chuuphitnit
- 34. Lae Pai Khaang Naa (1955) - 'Sriibuuraphaa'
- 35. See-phlee Boy Chaaw Rai (1969) - Rong Wongsawan
- 36. Jotmaay Jaak Muaeng Thai (1970) - 'Boo-Taan'
- 37. Khao Chue Kaan (1971) - Suwannee Sukhonthaa
- 38. Saang Chiiwit - Luang Wijit-waathakaan
- 39. Tawan Tok Din (1972) - Kritsana A-sooksin
- 40. Sauy-Thaung (1974) - Nimit Phoomthaavaun
- 41. Piraap Daeng (1974) - Suwat Wauradilok
- 42. Luuk Isaan (1976) - Khamphuun Buunthawii
- SHORT STORIES
- 43. Nithaan Weetaan - 'N.M.S.'
- 44. Jap Taay - Manat Janyong
- 45. Ruam Rueang San Khaung P. Buuranapakaun - P. Buuranapakaun
- 46. Ruam Rueang San Khaung S. Thammayot - S. Thammayot
- 47. Phlaay Maliwan [and other short stories] - Thanaum Mahaapaoraya?
- 48. Phuu Dap Duang Aathit [and otherscience fictions]
- - Jantrii Siribunraut
- 49. Yuk Thamin [and other short stories] - Isaraa Amantakun
- 50. Rueang San Chut Mueang Rae [and other short stories]
- - Aa-jin Panjaphan
- 51. Faa Bau Kan [and other stories] - Laaw Kham Haum
- 52. Phuean Kao - Saneu Intharasuksrii
- 53. Chan Jueng Maa Haa Khwaam Maay - Witthayyaakaun Chiangkuun
- 54. Ruam Rueang San Humourist - Humourist
- 55. Khon Bon Tonmai [and other short stories] - Nikhom Raayawaa
- 56. Prawat Khotmaay Thai - R. Langart
- 57. Nithaan Booraanakhadii
- - Somdet Krom Phrayaa Damrong-Rachaanuphaap
- 58. Choom Naa Sakdina Thai - Jit Phuumisak
- 59. Kabot R.S 130 [A.D.1809-1910] - Rian Sriijan & Neet Phoonwiwat