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Author: Judith E Walsh
Publisher: Yoda Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8190227238
In the late nineteenth century, as dominance of British power in India led to the imposition of an alien culture on indigenous life-ways, the entire world of local domestic life and its most intimate relationships became contested ground.
This anthology offers translated selections from nine Bengali domestic manuals written by both men and women in the course of these debates and contestations. In simple and often colloquial language these how to do it books act as guides to conducting relations within a family context child rearing, and household management.
Often presented in the form of an intimate dialogue between husband and wife in the dead of the night, the translations provide an unusual, and often hilarious, insight into the home of the Bengali bhadralok in colonial times.
The manuals are unique and important historical sources both for the culture in which they occur, for nineteenth-century India in general, as well as when viewed from the global perspective. Indeed, these manuals represent writing which is in the same tradition as the famous Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management published in England in 1861, and Catharine Beecher’s manuals written in the United States between 1841 and 1869. They effectively highlight the process by which the dominant colonial culture of the Raj came to alter the intimate relationships of domestic life.
What relationship should exist between husband and wife, how a mother should raise her children, even how kitchen spices should be arranged along the storeroom wall, all find ample space in these manuals. As one hurtles from one representation of middle-class reformism to another, it becomes clear that this anthology is an invaluable addition to the rather thin collection of translated primary sources of this period.
The book will be of interest to students and scholars of gender studies, history, sociology, lay readers interested in the culture of the colonial period, as well as all informed women readers.
HUSBAND: Hold on-let’s first see what training a wife needs to be a partner, fist spending money according to a good policy, second, behaving well with people, third, keeping the house orderly and learning how to do the housework, fourth making one’s husband happy. Fifth-medicine. Can you say how many that was?
HUSBAND: Don’t forget them. Another day I’ll tell you how these five should be learned. Today I’ll simply explain the relationship itself. Are you sure you’re not getting sleepy?
A NOTE ON TRANSLATION AND TRANSLAITERATION
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
PART I: HUSBANDS, FAMILY AND DAILY LIFE: WHAT MEN ADVISED WOMEN
MANUAL 1: CONVERSTIONS WITH THE WIFE
The Relationship of Husband and Wife (selections) About Women
MANUAL 2: A HUSBAND’S ADVICE TO HIS WIFE
The Daily Activities of women
MANUAL 3: THE BENGALI WIFE
The Proper Age for Marriage
MANUAL 4: THE BENGALI WOMAN
MANUAL 5: MOTHER AND SON (CHAPER 4)
MANUAL 6: THE LAKSHMI OF THE HOME
Husband and Wife
Reading and Writing
PART II: HUSBANDS AND FAMILY: WHAT WOMEN TOLD WOMEN
MANUAL 7: THE EDUCATION OF GIRLS
MANUAL 8: WOMNE’S DHARMA
Duties of the Race of Women
The True Wife
Progress of Degradation
PART III: THE WELL-ORDERED HOME
MANUAL 9: THE DUTIES OF WOMEN
Food Making Useless things Useful
Nursing the Sick
The Signs of Lakshmi by Ishanchandra Basu
The Daily Duties of women by Ishanchandra Basu