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Talking of Power

Talking of Power
Early Writings of Bengali Women

Edited by:
  • Malini Bhattacharya - former Professor, Department of English, Jadavpur University, and former Director, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University
  • Abhijit Sen - fomer Publication Officer, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University

August 2021 | 200 pages | SAGE Stree
‘Around the middle of the nineteenth century, a social category was born in Bengal, along with a new word that named it: lekhika or the female author.’—Tanika Sarkar, Foreword

These writings, translated for the first time from Bengali, form a path-breaking collection of issues that aimed at the empowerment of women and thus remain alive today. The women were the first to receive a ‘modern’ education, and became members of the reading and writing public that hitherto was entirely male. The writers came from urban elite backgrounds, most from Brahmo Samaj families, many comparatively unknown today like Bamasundari Devi or Kumudini Mitra as well as more famous ones from the Tagore family—Swarnakumari Devi and her daughters. Some were Hindus like Kailashbasini Devi and Krishnabhabini Das, among others. There are also two Muslim women writers—the brilliant Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain and the social reformer Khairunnissa Khatun.

The articles cover a whole range of social issues: social powerlessness, domestic management, the Swadeshi movement, what to wear outside the house when leaving seclusion, and financial independence. Writing for the new journals that came up as vernacular print media was expanding. Making their way into the literary world, the women opened up new roles for themselves and their successors.
Foreword by Tanika Sarkar
Malini Bhattacharya
Bamasundari Devi
What Are the Superstitions That Must Be Removed for the Betterment of Our Country?
Kailashbasini Devi
The Woeful Plight of Hindu Women
Kusumkumari Devi
A Letter
Saratkumari Chaudhurani
The Modern Age and the Modern Woman
Girindramohini Dasi
A Terrible Problem
Krishnabhabini Das
Independence and Subjugation in Women’s Lives
Anindita Devi
How to Establish Amity among the Different Communities in Bengal
Hemantakumari Chaudhuri
Women’s Dress
Kumudini Mitra
What Women Should Do When the Motherland Is in Distress
Kamini Roy
The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
The Worship of Women
Hiranmoyee Devi
Proposal: A Women’s Arts Association
Khairunnissa Khatun
Jagadishwari Devi
On the Use of Footwear by Women in Ancient India
Swarnakumari Devi
Words from Times Past
Sarala Devi Chaudhuran
My Life Changes Track

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