ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gendering of the Novel

Feminising Political Discourse: Women and the Novel in India 1857-1905 by Jasbir Jain; Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi, 1997; JOSODHARA BAGCHI Jasbir Jain is a well known name in the field of literary studies in India. Using her base in English Studies, she has unpacked the complex relationship of women with the process of novel writing in its early days in India, that is, between the first war of independence in 1857 and the onset of the swadeshi movement in 1905. The new writing took place in the vernacular languages that signalled the formation of class subjectivities, that were simultaneously hegemonising and hegemonised. The socio-cultural dynamic that this set into motion has been analysed in its multifariousness by critics writing both in English and the vernacular languages. Jasbir Jain

Jasbir Jain is a well known name in the field of literary studies in India. Using her base in English Studies, she has unpacked the complex relationship of women with the process of novel writing in its early days in India, that is, between the first war of independence in 1857 and the onset of the swadeshi movement in 1905. The new writing took place in the vernacular languages that signalled the formation of class subjectivities, that were simultaneously hegemonising and hegemonised. The socio-cultural dynamic that this set into motion has been analysed in its multifariousness by critics writing both in English and the vernacular languages. Jasbir Jain’s book tries to pull a strand out of this complex web and to establish the interface between the politics of nation-building and the gendering of the newly emerging cultural form, the novel.

As the author says, she started off with several questions: was the novel form an importation from the west, rendering the earlier narrative traditions null and void? What were the explanatory devices of behind the glaring fact that these early Indian novels were predominantly woman-centred? Since these could not be the same as in the west, should one look at the different narrative modes developed within the different linguistic regions or, simply talk about Indian literature in the singular?

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