Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Social and historical dimensions in literary studies may be different from those of social scientists. Literature not only records social experiences of a writer as an individual, but also generates his/her reactions to social changes that he/she has confronted. Since Thailand's first Social and Economic Plan during Marshal Sarit Thanarat's regime in the 1960's, Thai governments has geared national "development" to material growth and superstructures, by promoting the slogans such as "flowing water, electric lighting and good transportation." Over the four decades of material and technological oriented "development," Thai society, especially in rural areas, has been, physically, and mentally, dramatically changed. However, today it is realized that those policies might have not been the appropriate ones for the country's growth and development. During these past four decades of social and economic changes in Thai society, Lao Khamhom, the pseudonym of Khamsing Srinauk, National Artist 1992, one of the main literary figures in Thai literary circles, a senior mentor of Thai writers, has conducted performed his career as a writer whose works, both in short story and novel form, are related to social and political changes in Thailand. /it can be said that the development of his writing career has flourished along with those tremendous social changes in Thai rural areas. Lao Khamhom once stated that when writing fiction, he intends to appeal to Thai people, by presenting the poverty, decline and backwardness of Thai peasants, for the understanding and social conscience of the urban. Lao Khamhom's fiction raises simple and honest questions, without giving answers, about social changes, the inequality of national development, an increasing gap between the urban and the rural, and the collapse of the agricultural community, which is still the biggest sector of Thai society, due to the impact of industrialization. "The social complaints" in Lao Khamhom's literary works enable readers to realize that everybody should take responsibility for the misery that results and perceive that the peasants are still living under difficult conditions. They are still poor and have always been oppressed. The development of Lao Khamhom's literary works during the past four decades is closely related to contemporary social and political changes in Thai society, especially in the Northeast. Social changes from the literary dimension, particularly in the development of Lao Khamhom's literary work, therefore, are interesting and valuable because they are not only individual but collective complaints of the poor peasants, whose lives have never improved. This article is an attempt to analyze the development of Lao Khamhom literary works in these four decades, by emphasizing social changes in Thai rural society in Lao Khamhom's perspective in order to scrutinize the impact of the social and economic development plan on the Thai rural community and the writer's reaction to those policies and social changes.

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