Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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It has been widely acknowledged that translation played an important role in the process of colonization. Colonizers often used it to reinforce their hegemony over the colonized who, in turn, employed it to encourage either submission to or resistance of that hegemony. Focusing on Vajiravudh's translation, or more precisely adaptation, of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," this article illustrates how the story reflects not only the desire to be civilized like Westerners but also the strategies that the Siamese elite employed in order to achieve the trappings of civilization, namely the construction of a primitive Other and the imitation of Europeans. These strategies were, however, inherently problematic. Imitation did not, for example, pave the way towards acceptance but reinforced instead the stereotype of the mimicking natives. The article shows, however, that the Siamese elite were able to use the tactic of adaptation, both literary and otherwise, to navigate through these problems and negotiate their relationship with the West.

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