Synopses & Reviews
These ground-breaking collections offer 200 texts from 11 languages, never before available in English or as a collection, along with a new reading of cultural history that draws on contemporary scholarship on women and on India. This extraordinary body of literature and important documentary resource illuminates the lives of Indian women through 2,600 years of change and extends the historical understanding of literature, feminism, and the making of modern India. The biographical, critical, and bibliographical headnotes in both volumes, supported by an introduction which Anita Desai describes as “intellectually rigorous, challenging, and analytical,” place the writers and their selections within the context of Indian culture and history. Volume I: 600 B.C. to the Early Twentieth Century includes songs by Buddhist nuns, testimonies of medieval rebel poets and court historians, and the voices of more than 60 other writers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the diverse selections are a rare early essay by an untouchable woman; an account by the first feminist historian; and a selection from the first novel written in English by an Indian woman.