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4 book reviews of translated English to Thai literature

Before we go through all the book reviews, I want to make the claim that the following book will be the translation version of English – Thai novels. So, the reviews aren’t probably too formal because I will make them in my style. So, I hope you enjoy it and find it interesting. So, without further ado, these are the 4-book reviews I want to recommend for this month, March 2023. Now, let’s grab a book and a coffee and enjoy your wonderful time.

Here in Thailand, at the beginning of summer, I wonder what books I should read for this month. I still wonder again about what kinds of books I’m going to read and suggest to everyone. So, why’s literature, then? I asked myself the same question, and I found that it was inspired by a new habit and situation. The point is that I enjoy visiting the indie bookstore where they sell books that you may not find in the bookstores in the mall. Interesting right?

Let’s begin, then!

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is a novel that reflects the writer’s self.

During the transition of post-Cold War, the time that men are more superior to women. It means that women have to follow what men say. They should be only housewives and are oppressed by men. By that time, the transition of society from old to new forced people to choose and adjust. Although Sylvia herself couldn’t select from such evolution, she kindly provided the choice for the protagonist in her novel to choose from. As a result, unfortunately, this novel was her only literary work, and she later became famous after she passed away.

The protagonist was suffering from her mental illness, insanity. It was tough for her to decide during that time of transitional society and the pressure of women’s limits which sometimes she wasn’t asked for. But she can’t do anything because she cannot change society’s situation. After a while, her insanity caused her severe depression, which also caused her to have suicidal thoughts, and she made several attempts to suicide herself. Luckily, she was sent to the hospital to recover even though she had been facing many obstacles. Yet, she beat her illness.

Consequently, her recovery made her accept the facts of society and the world. ” I’m still alive. I’m still alive. I’m still alive “ – was what she had been telling herself to reflect her great intention. In the end, she will be the one who decides to adjust between the old and new society. It just ended like that and let the readers think beyond.


Die Leiden des jungen Werthers by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This novel was published in 1774, meaning it was one of the European works of literature of the 18th century or the so-called “The Age of Enlightenment.” The literature at this time will mainly explore the themes of social upheaval, reversals of personal status, political satire, geographical exploration, and the comparison between man’s natural and civilized states. In this novel, Goethe began the Romanticism movement in the arts and philosophy through the romantic yearning writing style to inspire the soul with passion and mystery.

The style of this book is how the protagonist ‘Werthers’ writes the letter telling his life to his friend. It then turns out to be the memory or part of a diary about Werthers’ life and romantic relationship. Werthers falls in love with the woman who already has her fiancée. He says he appreciates her beauty, kindness, and polite manner and wonders if he can be with her, although he knows she isn’t single. By then, he’s suffering heartache from one-sided love and an unsuccessful work relationship between him and his colleagues. It, therefore, leads to difficulty living his life due to his severe depression. Finally, since his love won’t end happily, he commits suicide to worship his love for her. 

In the Thai translation novel, the way to describe his feelings and how people talk is by using descriptive speech. I can feel that the original isn’t as melodious and beautiful as the translation. So, if you read it, you can imagine how beautiful and gorgeous the woman Werthers loves is. It’s in that level of descriptive language. But the way Goethe expressed the depressive condition of the protagonist still requires the effort of imagination. In my opinion, how the descriptive language describes Werthers suffering from his one-sided love doesn’t show much mental painfulness of the character. I will say, ” too melodious to feel that painfulness. “


Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert

Warning: don’t read this novel when you are about to eat. 

This war novel shows all the dark sides of human beings during the period of Carthage’s enlightenment, the Greek and Roman before Christ. The cruelty of the dark side in this novel is beyond general acceptance. So, it can be said that if the readers cannot handle the darkest of human beings here, they may not like this novel. Besides, this novel can be considered a historical novel as the plot follows a historical event. And this novel is also regarded as a research masterpiece.

The leading cause of war between the city and the mercenary is the municipality avoiding paying the total amount for them. Besides, the commander-in-chief of the mercenary is falling in love with Salammbô, the daughter of the city’s commander. With his crazy one-sided love, he loves until haunting and wants to win this relationship which also leads to the willingness to win this war. 

As I mentioned, this novel’s cruelty can be classified as perverse, sadistic, and too heavy to bear. I will tell you how horrible the darkest side is. For example, the soldiers will use all types of weapons and elephants for killing. Indeed, the elephant is taught to kill humans. Then the torment is also included, such as crucifying the arm of a slave with a pin to a cross until death, along with vultures eating the corpse, flaying, and torturing the slowest death. Last but not least, it also includes the survival time when the soldiers are starving without food which leads to the animal killings to make them as food.

So, if you want to challenge yourself, I may ask you to try reading this book. Once in a lifetime, you should read this book. I’m very much recommending it.


Demían by Hermann Hesse

The protagonist seems like a writer of his story. He tells about his confusion, belief, and identity discovery, as well as some predictions of the near future in this world. He learns the facts and truths about this world through his friend, Demían. The reality here appears to be gray, neither white nor black. 

All the discoveries relating to the belief during pre of the first World War which is likely about religion. The protagonist is entirely against the faith and the majority’s sentiment. In fact, different opinions regarding religious belief at that time are not widely accepted. It makes him face loneliness and sometimes lose himself in the dark and wrong direction. Mostly, all of his time is spent on his dream.

In my opinion, I feel like this novel is quite hard to interpret. Although we can see the picture in our head while reading, expressing it through words is still tricky. But it’s on the tip of my tongue. So, I would say that this novel is a bit complex and complicated, yet understandable. Now, what I receive from reading this novel is the willingness to do more research about history and society in Hesse’s time to find out what most people believe.


Do they seem exciting novels? I guess we can see the ideas of each novel and a summary of the story. Thai translation novels here are pretty well-translated. It’s because I feel like all the language and the art of literature have flowed. There is no stumbling when reading all that. This is because of the way the translators did was that they chose to be in- between translating word-by-word and relying on the author’s intention and context. The selection of Thai word choice is well-chosen because I can even imagine the picture of the stories inside my head. There is nothing much to complain about.

Since these are part of the books I have read, I still have more to tell you. Maybe it can be the upcoming blog post. So again, don’t forget to grab the book you like, have either coffee or tea, and enjoy your reading. By the way, don’t forget to leave a comment about what books you like to read for this month. I’ll see you at the next one.

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