By Thomas Hudak
“This meticulously executed book is a welcome addition to the relatively small, though growing, corpus of studies on the Thai language. The book appeals to a far wider audience than its title may suggest, because it discusses not only details of Thai poetry, for which Hudak is regarded as the foremost authority in North America, but also the culture, language, and people behind it.”
Tadao Miyamoto, Language
During the Ayutthaya period in Thailand (1350-1767), a group of meters based upon specific types and arrangements of syllables became a significant part of the Thai literary corpus. Known as chan in Thai literature, these meters, and the stanzas created from them, were adapted and transformed so that they corresponded in structure to other Thai verse forms. Although still used in compositions today, these meters reached their greatest popularity during the mid and late Ayutthaya period and the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.
This study of the Thai chan meters contends that Thai linguistic constraints and poetic principles determined the transformation of the Pali meters and stanzas into their Thai counterparts. Disproving the frequent claims that the old chan compositions ignored the sequencing of the particular syllable types required by the meters, the author determines why the meters became popular only during certain eras and just what the aesthetic conditions were that nurtured the use of the meters.
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