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Thai epic receives first English translation

24th December 2010

One of Thailand's most famous epic stories, The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, has been translated into English for the first time.

The work, which started life as an open-air performance and was passed on by word-of-mouth for hundreds of years, has been translated into two volumes by historian Chris Baker.

One of the volumes contains the entire translated work, which is a tragic love story set during a time of war. The second volume includes alternative chapters, a preface written by Prince Damrong in the early 1900s and references lists on subjects such as costume, food and weapons.

Speaking to the BBC, Baker said that one of the attractions of the tale is how it deals with the 'exercise of power'.

'There's the theme about revolt, of everyman. He has his wife taken away from him, suffers other injustices and eventually becomes an outlaw. And, in fact, the king fears very much that he's gone into revolt,' he explained.

Baker was assisted in his translation by Pasuk Phongpaichi, a professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, while the story has been illustrated by Muangsing Janchai.

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