The Wise Woman and Other Stories: The Best of Mannu Bhandari
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Mannu Bhandari's genius lies not in elevating women to heroines or superior beings; rather, she forces us to acknowledge that flawed, confused, and self-centered women are as worthy of agency and respect. She wrote among literary giants who were mostly men, but carved a singular space for herself with her unflinching gaze at the hypocrisy of a society that claims to venerate women yet balks at giving them the keys to their shackles. These 18 stories are representative of her wonderful insights into the inner life of women – her characters span the spectrum from rural to urban, illiterate to educated, homemakers to career professionals. Through all the stories runs a vein of gentle mockery – the inimitable Mannu Bhandari style.



Publié par
Date de parution 07 juin 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788186939871
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Born in Madhya Pradesh in 1931, Mannu Bhandari had her early education in Ajmer, graduated from Calcutta University and then went on to obtain an M.A. in Hindi language and literature from Banaras Hindu University. She initially worked as a lecturer in Hindi in Calcutta, and subsequently taught Hindi literature at Miranda House College, in the University of Delhi.
A prolific writer of short stories, novels, novellas, and plays, Mannu Bhandari has been honoured with several awards for her outstanding literary achievements in Hindi. She is considered one of the pioneers of the ‘Nayi Kahani’ Movement, a Hindi literary movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her work has been translated into many Indian and foreign languages. Some of her stories have been adapted into films as well as for the stage. The Hindi movie Rajnigandha , based on her short story ‘Yehi Sach Hai’ won the Filmfare Best Film Award in 1974.
Vidya Pradhan is a writer based in Palo Alto, California. She has written several children’s books, features, and a memoir. This is her first translation and she looks forward to bringing more classic Indian literature in Hindi to English readers.
OTHER INDIAINK TITLES Anjana Basu Black Tongue Anjana Basu Chinku and the Wolfboy Anuradha Majumdar Infinity Paper: A mysterious quest, an unforgettable adventure Boman Desai Servant, Master, Mistress Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Shadowland Claudine Le Tourneur d’lson Hira Mandi C.P. Surendran An Iron Harvest I. Allan Sealy The Everest Hotel I. Allan Sealy Trotternama Indrajit Hazra The Garden of Earthly Delights Jaspreet Singh 17 Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir Jawahara Saidullah The Burden of Foreknowledge John MacLithon Hindutva, Sex & Adventure Kalpana Swaminathan The Page 3 Murders Kalpana Swaminathan The Gardener’s Song Kamalini Sengupta The Top of the Raintree Lavanya Arvind Shanbaoug The Heavens We Chase Madhavan Kutty The Village Before Time Pankaj Mishra The Romantics Paro Anand I’m Not Butter Chicken Paro Anand Wingless Paro Anand Weed Paro Anand Pure Sequence Paro Anand No Guns at my Son’s Funeral Rakesh Satyal Blue Boy Ranjit Lal Bambi Chops and Wags Ranjit Lal The Life &Times of Altu-Faltu Ranjit Lal The Small Tigers of Shergarh Ranjit Lal The Simians of South Block and Yumyum Piglets Sanjay Bahadur The Sound of Water Sanjay Bahadur Hul: Cry Rebel! Selina Sen A Mirror Greens in Spring Shandana Minhas Tunnel Vision Sharmistha Mohanty New Life Shree Ghatage Brahma’s Dream Sudhir Thapliyal Crossing the Road Susan Visvanathan Nelycinda and Other Stories Susan Visvanathan The Visiting Moon Susan Visvanathan The Seine at Noon Tanushree Podder Escape from Harem
FORTHCOMING TITLE Madhumita Bhattacharyya Dirty Women

This digital edition published in 2021
First published in 2021 by
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Copyright © Original stories in Hindi: Mannu Bhandari
© Translations: Vidya Pradhan, 2021
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eISBN: 978-81-86939-87-1
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Mannu Bhandari: A Life in Words by Namita Gokhale
Tales of the Everywoman: A Note from the Translator
1. This is the Truth
2. Gypsies
3. The Actor
4. The Lonely One
5. Chains
6. Eyeglasses
7. Two Artists
8. A Storm in a Teacup
9. Rooms, Room, and Rooms
10. The New Job
11. Punishment
12. The Wise Woman
13. Trishanku
14. The Tale of a Weak Girl
15. Here There is No Sky
16. A Human in the House of Christ
17. I Have Lost
18. Fake Diamonds

Mannu Bhandari’s inspired body of work forges an important link in the evolution of modern Hindi fiction. Her quietly told stories amplify all the more because they are often recounted in a whisper. She is of her time, yet timeless. The late 1950s and early ’60s, when she wrote some of her most prominent novels, was a moment in India’s intellectual history when the young republic was scrutinizing itself with a new self-awareness.
Married to the iconic writer and editor Rajendra Yadav, Bhandari was deeply immersed in the ideas and debates of her time. She was never flattened into the shadows by her husband’s fame and charisma, but resolutely pursued her own substantial writing career. The literary milieu around her was alive with excitement. Writers like Nirmal Verma, Mohan Rakesh, Kamleshwar, Krishna Sobti, Bhisham Sahni, Usha Priyamvada, and of course she herself with her husband Rajendra Yadav, were determinedly reinterpreting the narratives of their times.
The ‘Nayi Kahani’ movement mirrored the angst of the new and emergent middle classes, and the conflicts that arose as they struggled for a contested individualism, and the right to articulate their hopes and desires, pinioned as they were in the timeless traditions of a conservative society. Those to the ultra-left invoked the peasantry and wrote passionately of the labouring classes. The new paradigms of urban life, and the quotidian negotiations of everyday reality, included a questioning of the time-honoured allocation of male and female roles. The unfamiliar phenomenon of the working woman was viewed with suspicion, and the women’s brigade of the ‘Nayi Kahani’ litterateurs wrote with feeling about the inequities of gender, and the unrealistic expectations of a backward-looking society.
It was in this context that Mannu Bhandari wrote her understated but hard-hitting fiction. Born in 1931 in Bhanpura, Madhya Pradesh, she grew up in Ajmer, in Rajasthan. Her father Sukhsampat Rai was a progressive minded freedom fighter, who pioneered the English to Hindi and English to Marathi dictionaries. Her first short story, ‘Main Haar Gayi’ was accepted by the literary journal Kahani in 1956, while she was still in Ajmer. After graduating from Calcutta University, she obtained a master’s degree in Hindi literature from Banares Hindu University, and later proceeded to teach Hindi Literature at the prestigious Miranda House, Delhi University.
Bhandari battled resolutely for every inch of intellectual and personal space all through her life. Her love marriage to Rajendra Yadav, already a notable figure in the literary world, drew her centre stage with a man who cast himself in the rugged masculine mould of Hemingway and other writers who took their overt machismo as their creed and assertion of identity. Yet she determinedly held her own, and a writerly camaraderie prevailed even as their personal life together faced utmost challenges. The quiet heroism of her battle, the odds against women in a hyper-patriarchal society, the small victories of self-assertion and independence, sparkle in her stories and give them resonance even with the passage of time.
The uninhibited, highly experimental novel, Ek Inch Muskan was written in 1963, in collaboration with her husband, when Bhandari was in her early thirties, and describes their relationship from different perspectives. Her other significant works include Apka Bunty (1971), which sensitively brought to life the tragic conflicts unfolding within a child with divorced parents. The classic film Rajnigandha based on her short story ‘Yahi Such Hai’ was released in 1974. Mahabhoj (1979) took on the criminalization of politics and was written in the context of the Belchhi massacre. Swami (1982) was adapted into an award-winning feature film, directed by Basu Chatterjee. Her major short story collections include Ek Plate Sailab (1962), Yehi Sach Hai aur Anya Kahaniyan (1966), Teen Nigahen Ek Tasveer (1969) and Trishanku (1999). The autobiographical Ek Kahani Yeh Bhi was published in 2007 and is the story of her literary life.
Bhandari has referred to what she terms a ‘passionless neutrality’ in her literary voice. The objectivity of her gaze, the determined eschewing of the dramatic, is a signature of her style. The other distinctive characteristic of her work was what she referred to as ‘shilpaheenta’ – a sort of carefully crafted formlessness.
Bhandari, Krishna Sobti and Usha Priyamvada were the three prominent women writers who took on the entrenched patriarchy to which they were born. The women’s movement in northern India was spawned in part from their ideological commitment, and the strong women characters who inhabited their fiction. They led by example in their personal lives as well, and despite their very different literary styles and personalities, they gifted a legacy of women’s voices which could not be ignored to the dominantly male tonality of Hindi literature of that period.
Bhandari drifted apart from her talented and temperamental husband, who apart from his own prolific and highly regarded writing had revived the historic magazine Hans and brought it to great heights of literary excellence. Although they were separated, they remained friends until the end, a testament to the robust intellectual partnership that they shared.
Ill health prevented Bhandari from writing all that she might have, but her significant oeuvre is a testament to a time and moment, and to the nature of humans, of men and women and their complex relationships. With her enormous reach into popular culture via the many successful films based on her work, she was a tr

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