Pen and Sail: Literature and History in Early Bangkokby Nidhi Eoseewong
Nidhi Eoseewong is the most innovative, famed, and controversial Thai historian of his generation. This book founded his reputation. On its first appearance in Thai, he was immediately hailed as "a major historian, the most capable of the present era."
Pen and Sail combines intellectual history and economic history. Nidhi argues that the emergence of a market economy in the early Bangkok era (1782-1855) was the driving force behind a major change in mentality and worldview seen in poetry, early prose works, biographies of the Buddha, scripts for chanting the Jataka tales, language primers, manuals of behavior, and revisions of the royal chronicles.
Nidhi aimed not only to rewrite Siam's nineteenth-century history, but to wrestle the study of history and literature away from the conservative old guard. This ambition provoked both passionate support and angry criticism.
Nidhi Eoseewong's outstanding career as a historian and leading public intellectual was recognized by award of the prestigious Fukuoka Asia Prize in 2000. This is the first of his major works to appear in English.