mahadevi verma essay

This edited volume of translations covers the major political essays of India’s first feminist Hindi poet. A devout follower and advocate of Gandhi, Mahadevi Varma is a household name in India and is a major woman of letters in the modern Hindi world. The essays collected in this volume represent some of Mahadevi Varma’s most famous writings on the “woman question” in India.

The collection also includes an introduction to her life, with biographical notes, an analysis of her importance in the field of Hindi letters, as well as a selection of her poems – these latter because Mahadevi Varma made her mark in the world of Hindi literature through her poetry, and a volume of translations would be incomplete without a sampling of them. The introduction to the translated volume sketches Mahadevi Varma’s life and work and her significance to both the development of modern standard Hindi as well as to the nascent women’s movement underway in the 1920s in India.

Little scholarly attention has been given in the academy outside of India to Varma’s numerous contributions to women’s education, to the development of modern standard Hindi, and to political thought during the Independence movement in late-colonial India. This volume of translations engages themes like language and nationalism, women’s roles as artists, the politics of motherhood and marriage—themes that continue to be relevant to women’s lives in contemporary India and to movements for women’s rights outside India as well.

An innovative, independent, non-subsidy publisher of academic research NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT Mahadevi Varma Description (continued) This volume of translations of Mahadevi Varma’s feminist political essays is the first of its kind. While some of these essays, especially those from Mahadevi Varma’s Hamari Shrinkhala Ki Kariyan collection have been translated by Neera K. Sohoni and published under the title Links in the Chain (Katha, 2003), there is no sustained treatment of Varma’s political thinking in one, accessible volume.

While there is ample work on Varma in Hindi, scholars of feminism (and students of Hindi who are in the nascent stages of language acquisition) have nowhere to turn for a comprehensive sampling of her work. Mahadevi Varma is also one of the most difficult writers to access even for trained scholars of Hindi language and literature. Her highly Sanskritized diction and her stylized prose sketches make her work a pleasure to read in the original but daunting to translate into English. This volume has contributions from some of the highly regarded experts in the world of Hindi today.

In the editor’s introduction to the volume of translations a brief biographical sketch followed by an analysis of the political climate of Northern India has been provided so that the reader unfamiliar with India of the 1920s-1940s will have the necessary historical context to place her work. The introduction to the volume also raises the issue of why she gave up writing poetry and turned solely to writing prose when she became involved with the movements for women’s rights and national independence.

Finally, the volume provides feminist cultural historians a rich archive of how Indian women like Mahadevi Varma were actively negotiating their lives as women, activists, artists, teachers, and married women. This work will be of use to scholars of Hindi language and literature in the US/European academy and should be of interest to cultural and feminist historians of modern India. This volume will introduce Mahadevi Varma’s literary scope to an English-speaking audience, and will serve as a reference for feminist historians of the nationalist period in the Indian subcontinent.

Table of Contents Acknowledgements Preface Editor’s Introduction Mahadevi Varma: Poems My Childhood Days The Home and the World The Curse of Womanhood The Links in Our Chain Introduction to Adhunik Kavi The Question of Women’s Economic Independence The Condition of Hindu Wives The Art of Living War and Woman Women’s Position in the New Decade Our Country and Our National Language Bibliography Notes on Contributors Index About the Author Anita Anantharam is an assistant professor in the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at the University of Florida.

She holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley; an MA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and a BA from Columbia University. Dr. Anantharam is also the author of Bodies that Remember: Women’s Indigenous Knowledge and Cosmopolitanism in South Asian Poetry (Syracuse University Press) and has published articles in Feminist Media Studies, the Journal of International Women’s Studies, and Gender and Language. 20 Northpointe Parkway, Suite 188, Amherst, New York 14228 www. cambriapress. com T (716)568-7828 F (716)608-1489 E [email protected] com An innovative, independent, non-subsidy publisher of academic research

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