Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ashapoorna Devi আশাপূর্ণা দেবী-Two Stories by One of The First Female Bengali Authors

"Grieving for One's Self" (1955, 3 pages,)
"Matchbook" (1949, 3 pages)

Ashapoorna Devi
Leading Bengali Female Author

Ashapoorna Devi আশাপূর্ণা দেবী (also translated as Ashapurna Debi) was one of the first Bengali women to write in a realistic fashion about the lives of women. Devi (1909 to 1995-Calcutta, India) was born into an affluent family (it seems all of the early 20th century South Asian authors I have read so far came from wealthy families) dominated by her very conservative grandmother. The grandmother believed, as was the common practice, that female children should receive no formal education at all. Devi learned to read and write by listening into the lessons from the tutors of her brothers. Her father was a well known artist and her mother was very into classical western and South Asian literature and was able to pass along a love of reading to her daughter. Devi had no duties as a child and read constantly. At age 13 she published her first poem and began a life time of authorship . She married by parental arrangement at age fifteen, the normal marriage age for girls.

Devi always put her family first in her life. She lived completely according to the customs of her time which meant she rarely left the house while her children were young. She produced a stream of novels, short stories and essays portraying the lives of women in Bengali. She never rebelled against the strictures on women in an overt way but her writings vividly portray the many injustices in the lives of women of her time. She received many awards and honorary degrees. Without a day of school, she became the first great Bengali women writer. Her work has been translated into several western and South Asian languages.

"Matchbox" is about a married couple. The man has had a live time practice of opening his wife's mail and reading it. Then if he feels like it he will give her the letters. He tells her it is his right to screen her mail to see if she has a lover. She is more or less confined to the house by custom and her husband is free to go where ever he wants and stay out at all hours without being questioned. One day the wife explodes with rage. This wonderful story is about what occurs when that happens. I really enjoyed seeing the husband trying to get himself out of trouble.

"Grieving For One's Self" is a another story about a married couple. The couple in this story have been married a very long time. The husband decided to fake a stroke in order see the reaction of his wife and his children. He very much resents the fact that she now has her own room. The story is just brilliant in the way it shows us the relationships between the husband and wife and their adult children. It has a lot to tell us about long term marriages.

Both of the stories were translated from Bengali by Prasenjit Gupta.

You can find both of these stories online HERE.

I enjoyed both of these stories. There are very much worthy of the few minutes it will take you to read them.

Mel u


Ashley said...

You read such a variety of authors! I'm always amazed.

Since you love short stories so much, Fiction Writers Review is hosting The Collection Giveaway Project if you'd like to join or just check out to spread the word about short stories.

Mel u said...

Ashley-thanks for stopping by-I just Tweeted the announcement on Short Story Month-I will check out all the participants and suggest all short story lovers do the same-I will be posting at least daily on short stories for all the month of May and I hope way beyond that!

Mugen said...

Blogger's problem is a blessing in disguise! I met wonderful book lovers in return. Did you follow our source too?