The volume under review is the seventh in a series on modern Indian history, edited by well known historian Professor Bipan Chandra and two of his illustrious former students, Mridula and Aditya Mukherjee. Between them they represent what was once the unchallenged school of nationalist historiography and have acquired the formidable reputation of crusaders on behalf of that particular way of understanding modern Indian history.
Feminist Social Thought brings together a set of introductory essays on the work of six of the best-known feminist ideologues of the twentieth century. The attempt is to summarize in some detail the work of Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, Shulamith Firestone, Juliet Mitchell and Sheila Rowbotham.
Ratna Kapur’s objective to outline a postcolonial feminist framework takes seriously, the emergence and legal regulation of what she terms the new sexual subaltern and of the new images of sex in contemporary Indian society. Telling the stories of law then is to interrogate the implication of law in the contemporary reformulations of culture and sexuality. Traversing many domains of law, different state agencies and the claims made by groups speaking on behalf of women or sexual subalterns, Kapur weaves a powerful argument to critique those manoeuvres that use cultural essentialism to inscribe sexual normativity while presenting culture as static and immutable.
Anyone involved in the business of curricu- lar literature-mongering would agree that English literary studies in most Indian universities still revolves primarily around universalist and liberal humanist notions of essential truths and ‘great traditions’, and textual criticism comprises gut reactions based on outmoded and yet unproblematized aesthetic ‘values’.
In sharp contrast is Jitendra Bhatia’s Justjoo-e-nihaan Urf Rooniyabaas Ki Antarkatha. This novel is about an ordinary journalist, Chandraprakash Chaubey, who fails in his investigative assignment but seeks to find a fresh meaning for his otherwise irrelevant ignominious life—investigating into the truth of an Ojhal Baba (Invisible Godman) living in some ruins near Rooniyabaas village and reputed to possess divine powers.
Critics, like Benedeto Croe, have not taken very kindly to translation that has in fact helped bridge language gaps. During the Raj the vernacular text was translated by the colonizers to tighten the noose around the native psyche. However, in the postcolonial era translation has become instrumental in discovering the spring of the Indian soul by enabling the thought perceptions expressed in one stream leap into the others
In an age of postmodernist utterances, the incessant babble of the hyper-real images on our T.V. screens, the cacophony of ‘discourses’, we are left injured and stupefied by the violence of words. Our word-weary souls seek respite. It is here that poetry comes to our rescue for we need the much deprived ‘quiet peace’ for reflection and introspection.
Eight fragile human figures, an equally fragile boat, the churning sea in the background – the stark matte black cover with a blue tinted black and white photograph of everyday beach life, fisherman hauling their catch – is a telling picture of this collection of Arun Prakash’s short stories. Written over thirty years (the first story of the collection was written in 1971, the last one in 2002) they are all about bringing to the fore the daily struggle of the ignored, the overworked, the marginalized.
Girdhar Rathi is an important Hindi critic, editor, translator, poet and litterateur. He has been the editor of the Sahitya Akademi’s journal Samkaleen Bharatiya Sahitya since 1991, which he has edited with zest and flair. Antastha, the book being reviewed, comprises essays and occasional pieces that he wrote variously between 1977 and 2001.
Every successive gender-ratio study reveals the depressing fact that the Indian girl child is well on the way to becoming an extinct variant of the species. So it is heartening to hear her voice through this set of tales edited by Monica Das, who in her introduction sets out the chilling figures which form the painful backdrop to these stories: