Much of it, though, exists only in Bengali, and thus is unavailable to the rest of India and most of the world. A recent trickle of translated works is now rapidly expanding, as evidenced by the two books discussed here. Mahasweta Devi needs little introduction. Spivak features as prominently in the book as Devi herself. Each story is accompanied by an analysis of almost equivalent length, described variously as a foreword, analysis, or notes. This analysis is presumably a bonus for postcolonial academics, but it adds little for the casual reader.
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Much of it, though, exists only in Bengali, and thus is unavailable to the rest of India and most of the world. A recent trickle of translated works is now rapidly expanding, as evidenced by the two books discussed here. Mahasweta Devi needs little introduction. Spivak features as prominently in the book as Devi herself. Each story is accompanied by an analysis of almost equivalent length, described variously as a foreword, analysis, or notes.
This analysis is presumably a bonus for postcolonial academics, but it adds little for the casual reader. They stand in stark contrast to the simple language used by Devi herself. Once, twice, three times. At the third burst the birds in the trees at the outskirts of the forest awake and flap their wings.
The echo of the call travels far. A typical paragraph from the accompanying analysis: Of course, this voice of male authority also fades. The army officer is shown as unable to ask the authoritative ontological question, What is this? Enough said. Like most of her stories, it is set among the tribals in Bengal. Draupadi, or Dopdi as her name appears in dialect, is a rebel, hunted down by the government in their attempt to subjugate these groups.
But Dopdi is not easily cowed. After continuous days of rape and abuse, deprived of food and water, the story ends with a magnificient final scene in which she faces her abusers, naked and bloody, but fiercely strong.
The thread that ties the three stories together is the breast. In the second story, Breast-Giver, the breast is a source of food and a livelihood: Jashoda is paid to breastfeed the many children in the extended family of her Master and Mistress.
Her abundant milk supports her own crippled husband and family. The names of the characters are not casually chosen -- Jashoda is the mother of Krishna, and Draupadi the wife of the Pandavas in the Mahabharat. There are many layers to these stories and therefore many interpreations; each reading may reveal, and each reader may discover, a different slant. The final story in this collection was perhaps the least intriguing, focusing on a respectable middle-class photographer Upin, who is fascinated by the lovely breasts of a tribal woman, Gangor.
The hard life stories of the tribals who are oppressed by the moneylenders and landlords, condescended to by the government, aided in uselessly inappropriate ways by charity groups and well-meaning city people, are described in her distinctively matter-of-fact style. The history of the region is integral to many stories, but it is taken for granted and never explained. Many readers may miss the finer details of the classes and cultures, but will still be shaken by the stories themselves.
Mahasweta Devi writes in a mixture of tribal and folk dialects and urban Bengali. Her language is probably very hard to translate, and the two editors have taken different approaches.
As always, they detail the devastating oppression under which the characters suffer -- by the Rajput landlords, the moneylenders, the police, the BDOs Block Development Officials -- yet, in each story, someone is fighting the tide. Dhowli has few options, and the ending is sad, but her own fortitude saves this from being just another mournful tale of oppression.
The characters in the stories are immensely tough, in spite of a system that grinds them down at every step. It is this innate sense of raw rebellion that makes the stories so impressive - she forces the reader to feel the humanity of every one of her Ganjus and Dusads. The language is clean and precise, and the stories focus on the societal failings that trap some people into tightly woven nets of miserable rituals and family expectations.
He is is anguished but objective about his own failure to save her. He justifies his support of social norms: Some of my friends asked me later why I did not do what I had said I would do. All I had to do was just leave with my wife. Why did I not take such an obvious simple step? Why indeed! If I am not to sacrifice my true feelings for what people regard as proper, if I am not to sacrifice my dearest one for the extended family, then what about the ages of social indoctrination running in my blood?
They are unsentimental too, and set among the impoverished peasants of Bengal. The story goes beyond this raw misery to show how the characters still have opinions and decisions to make; how morality changes in such situations, how a wife may be faced with prostitution to feed her children, how a man may be faced with the choice of whether to accept her back. Many of his stories are set in the aftermath of the bloody disruptions that made the country.
This is a space where both the oppressor and oppressed are bitterly poor, and it is not easy to make distinctions between the two. They pick pockets to make miniscule amounts of money. There is a general sense of resentment and shame shared by all the characters.
In this book, he is the only author to include both Hindu and Muslim characters, who mingle easily with each other. Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay is represented by the odd choice of two largely similar stories. They are similar enough that one wonders why both were necessary, and they give the impression that his writing had limited breadth. I found neither story especially compelling, though they did show the power of imagined evil.
All five authors were translated by Kalpana Bardhan, yet she has managed to retain a distinctive voice for each. She has also taken the sensible step of providing context and historical background via footnotes, which do not intrude upon the story. In her introduction, she discusses her reasons for selecting this particular group of stories, which all feature oppression in some form. She provides brief biographies of each author and an overall comparison of the themes in their stories.
I read the introduction after the stories themselves, not wanting to be biased by her point of view, but found instead that it gave me an additional appreciation and insight into the writing. I would suggest reading it before the stories, for background information, as well as after, when the discussions of the stories will be more meaningful. Just skip over the occasional repetitive sentence.
Tagis She is given names like Mother, and Milk-Mother. Gayztri not contain Access Codes or Supplements. The protagonist, Jashoda, is a marginalized Brahmin woman. While both psychological and physical disabilities are stigmatised by society, here are ten women with disability who kicked ass in Readers who know Bengali have the advantage of enjoying this book in its unadulterated form. I recognized the deep human truth of these stories. Aug 02, Saurabh rated it it was amazing. This book is a reminder spivam these bitter truths and many more lest we should forget.
Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi As A Symbol Of Subaltern Defiance
Life[ edit ] This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. In , unable to secure financial aid from the department of English, she transferred to Comparative Literature, a new program at Cornell, under the guidance of its first Director, Paul de Man , with insufficient preparation in French and German. Her dissertation, advised by Paul de Man , was on W. Her MA thesis was on the representation of innocence in Wordsworth with M. In , she attended Girton College, Cambridge , as a research student under the supervision of Professor T. Henn , writing on the representation of the stages of development of the lyric subject in the poetry of William Butler Yeats.
BREAST STORIES BY GAYATRI CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK PDF