Year published :October 2013

Pages :440 pp

Size :14x21 cm

Black & White photograph :20

ISBN: 9786162150616

Civilized Woman, A: M.L. Boonlua Debyasuvarn and the Thai Twentieth Century

by Susan Fulop Kepner

20 b&w illus., notes, bibliog., index

Boonlua Debyasuvarn was born to a noble Siamese family in 1911 and not only witnessed, but participated in, the great events of her century. She was talented, intelligent, and determined to make her own place in the world beyond Thewet Palace, her family home.

After the 1932 overthrow of the absolute monarchy, M.L. Boonlua became one of the first Thai women to earn a university degree. As an official in the Ministry of Education, she worked tirelessly to improve education within the kingdom and represent Thailand at international education conferences. She was a greatly respected teacher of literature and was much cherished for her charm, wit, and eminently quotable remarks. Her essays on literature became the foundation of modern Thai literary criticism and her novels are now recognized as unique social histories of the times in which she lived.

Lucid and sensitive, this engaging biography documents Boonlua’s life within the context of her society and the enormous changes her country was going through in her lifetime.

About the Author

SUSAN FULOP KEPNER is the author of The Lioness in Bloom: Modern Thai Fiction about Women and many essays on Thai literature and culture. She has translated two prize-winning Thai novels, Letters from Thailand and A Child of the Northeast, as well as short stories and poems. Dr. Kepner taught courses in Southeast Asian Literatures and Cultures and Thai language for many years at the University of California, Berkeley. She continues to live and to write in Berkeley.

What Others Are Saying

“An intimate view of an extraordinary life. M.L. Boonlua’s passage from precocious child of an aristocratic lineage under the absolute monarchy to fiery debater in the liberal explosion after 1973 cuts across the social upheavals of twentieth-century Thailand. Susan Kepner succeeds in conveying the sheer complexity of her life, resulting in not only a fine biography and literary appreciation but also a unique essay in social history.”—Chris Baker, historian and writer, co-translator of The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen

“This is not only an excellent biography of a unique Siamese lady, but it is also a wonderful social history of Siam from the reign of Rama VI to the end of the twentieth century. Anyone who wants to understand the subtleties of Thai culture and the delicacies of personal interaction should not fail to read this book.”—S. Sivaraksa, a Thai public intellectual 

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Boonlua Debyasuvarn | biography | social history | twentieth-century Thailand | education | literary criticism

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