Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Literature is a significant part of any nation's cultural heritage, its continuing existence depending on the values which are handed down from era to era, from generation to generation. Most traditional Thai literature follows the same conventions. The influence exerted by western literature helped to foster the development of contemporary Thai literature, but at the same time relegated traditional literature to the back burner, seemingly remote from contemporary Thai life. This can clearly be seen in contemporary children's literature; for example, it is obvious that at the present time the books in The Adventures of Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling are bestsellers that have captures the hearts of children all over the world. Witches and the magic of the western world are borrowed by authors of children's literature and even play a role in some Thai children's books as well. Nevertheless, there are a number of Thai writers who appreciate traditional Thai literature works and who have made an effort to revive some works of traditional Thai literature both in terms of content and style. They narrate new versions of classical literature in modern form and with more up-to-date content in a manner that appeals to young readers. Essentially, there are four basic methods which authors use to mine the rich heritage of the classical canon in Thai contemporary children's literature: first, they create new versions which are based on an old story but with some new imaginative touches added, as for example in Mucchanu; secondly, they borrow certain characters or certain motifs from traditional literary masterpieces to create new stories, as for example in The Little Garudo; thirdly, they satirize literary convention or certain motifs from traditional literature, as for example in The Magicless Prince; and fourthly, the writers transform an old tale into picture books or comic books. The analytical study in this article is based on the theory of intertextuality, which proposes that there are no original texts and that every text is composed of literary elements that have been narrated or used before, at some point in the past. In fact, the capacity to write literature is a result of reading many traditional literary works as well as more contemporary ones.

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