Four Reignsby M.R. Kukrit Pramoj
Translated by Tulachandra
Four Reigns (Si Phaendin), M.R. Kukrit’s longest and best-known novel, is the rich and entertaining story of the life of Phloi and her family, both inside and outside palace walls. The story unfolds during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) in the closing years of the 1800s, ending in the mid 1940s with the death of his grandson, King Ananda Mahidol (King Rama VIII). Over a span of four reigns, we see the lives of minor courtiers under the absolute monarchy and watch the huge social and political changes that Thailand experienced as it opened itself up to international contact. We follow the characters against the historical backdrops of the 1932 revolution, the new constitutional monarchy, the growing Japanese presence in Thailand, the outbreak of World War II, and the Allied bombing raids on Bangkok. Through the lives and relationships of Phloi and her husband and children, we experience modern Thai history in an itimate and personal way, garnering new insights into the sensiblities of an era.
Four Reigns was originally written in 1953 as a newspaper serial in the Thai daily, Siam Rath, as were M.R. Kukrit’s other popular novels, including Phai Daeng (Red Bamboo; 1954), and Lai Chiwit (Many Lives; 1954). This is a new version of the original 1981 translation by Tulachandra.
About the author
(1911-1995), born in Thailand and educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, was a true renaissance man. He was prime ministry, politician, and elder statesman, a classical dancer, outspoken critic, journalist, and writer. He wrote more than twenty books, many of which have become modern classics.
- Review by The Guardian (Thursday 11 September 2014)