"To build or to destroy": History and the individual in Manju Kapur’s "A Married Woman"
The paper is available online at my Yatra site:
The theme of South Asian individuals being caught up in and having their lives reshaped by major collective historical events (such as Independence and Partition) has been a constant in postcolonial Indian Writing in English, in such key works as Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines or Manju Kapur’s own Difficult Daughters. In A Married Woman (2002), the second of her three novels and the only one so far to incorporate public concerns into a contemporary setting, Kapur focuses on, among other themes, the Hindu-Muslim conflict as crystallised around the Ayodhya/Babri Masjid issue. This novel has attracted attention for its frank depiction of a love affair between two women, but less attention has been paid to the historical and political context in which that relationship develops. Kapur boldly returns to the Ramayana’s sense of a beginning by initiating the transgressive relationship in Ayodhya, in the wake of an anti-communalist rally, and by making one of the pair the Hindu widow of a secularist Muslim. The tale that thus unfolds powerfully explores how, in a still-traditionalist India entering the age of globalisation, evolving personal relations on the microsocial level are shaped by wider historical forces, yet can in their turn reshape that same history in an adumbration, potentially utopian even if partial and temporary, of new and more diverse forms of human relationship.
Dr Rajeshwar Mittapalli’s paper from the conference:
‘Subaltern Subjectivity and Resistance: Dalit Social History in Postcolonial Indian Fiction in English’,
is on-line at the SavifaDok site maintained by the University of Heidelberg, Germany: