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The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Millerby Carlo Ginzburg
Synopses & Reviews
The first full-length autobiography in Bengali, Amar Jiban (My Life) was written in the early nineteenth century by an upper-caste rural housewife named Rashundari Debi. Published in 1868 when she was 88 years old, the book is a fascinating snapshot of life for women in the nineteenth century. Debi, who gave birth to eleven children—her first was born when she was 18-years-old, the last when she was forty-one—ruminates on her very individual understanding of bhakti as well as the new times that were unfolding around her.
Offering a translation of major sections of this remarkable autobiography, Words to Win is a portrait of a woman who wants to compose a life of her own, wishes to present it in the public sphere, and eventually accomplishes just that. The words, in the end, win out. First published in 1999, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in nineteenth-century Indian history. The classic text is reissued here in a new paperback format.
The Cheese and the Worms is a study of the popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, a miller brought to trial during the Inquisition. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records of Domenico Scandella, a miller also known as Menocchio, to show how one person responded to the confusing political and religious conditions of his time.
For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. In his trial testimony he made references to more than a dozen books, including the Bible, Boccaccio's Decameron, Mandeville's Travels, and a mysterious book that may have been the Koran. And what he read he recast in terms familiar to him, as in his own version of the creation: All was chaos, that is earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and of that bulk a mass formed — just as cheese is made out of milk — and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels.
"A wonderful book... Ginzburg is a historian with an insatiable curiosity, who pursues even the faintest of clues with all the zest of a born detective until every fragment of evidence can be fitted into place." — New York Review of Books
Includes bibliographical references and index.
About the Author
Tanika Sarkar is a historian of modern India and author of Bengal 1928-1934: The Politics of Protest and Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, Cultural Nationalism. She also coedited Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of Hindutva and Women and the Hindu Right.
Table of Contents
2. Her Times, Her Places
3. The Changing World of Religion
4. Strishiksha, or Education for Women
5. Women's Writings
Amar Jiban (My Life)
6. On Re-reading the Text
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