Chotti Munda and his arrow

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Seagull Books, Jan 1, 2002 - Fiction - 378 pages
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I had but one arrow , says Chotti Munda, the hero of this epic tale. A magic arrow that stood for the pride, the wisdom, the culture, of their society, a society threatened with inevitable disintegration as its traditional structures crumbled under the assault of national development . The wide sweep of this important novel encompasses many layers. It ranges over decades in the life of Chotti the central character in which India moves from colonial rule to independence and then to the unrest of the 1970s. It probes and uncovers the complex web of social and economic exchange based on power relations. It traces the changes, some forced, some welcome, in the daily lives of marginalised rural community. And at its core, it celebrates Chotti, legendary archer, wise and farsighted leader, proud role model to his younger brethren. Written in 1980, this novel is also remarkable for the manner in which it touches on vital issues that have, in subsequent decades, grown into matters of urgent social concern. It raises questions about the place of the tribal on the map of national identity, land rights and human rights, the museumi zation of ethnic cultures, and the justification of violent resistance as the last resort of a desperate people, amongst others. In the words of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, This is the novel where Mahasweta articulates tribal history with colonial and postcolonial history. . . After Chotti, the text of tribality frees itself from the burden of a merely Indian history. . . Chotti Munda repeatedly dramatizes subaltern solidarity: Munda, Oraon and the Hindu outcastes must work together. Today such a solidarity has a name: Dalit. Mahasweta Devi is one of India s foremost writers. Her powerful fiction has won her recognition in the form of the Sahitya Akademi (1979), Jnanpith (1996) and Ramon Magsaysay (1996) awards, the title of Officier del Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres (2003) and the Nonino Prize (2005) amongst several other literary honours. She was also awarded the Padmasree in 1986, for her activist work among dispossessed tribal communities. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is the Avalon Foundaion Professor in the Humanities Department at Columbia University and the author of many books, including A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present.

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This is a historical novel depicting the adivasi struggle (one of the aboriginal tribes) of north east in the twentieth century. The novel was originally written in Bengali and later translated in ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Born in Calcutta, Spivak attended the University of Calcutta and Cornell University, where she studied with Paul de Man and completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature (1967). She has since taught at a number of academic institutions worldwide, most recently at Columbia University. Her critical interests are wide-ranging: she has written on literature, film, Marxism, feminism, deconstruction, historiography, psychoanalysis, colonial discourse and postcolonialism, translation, and pedagogy East and West. She argues forcefully that these disciplinary and theoretical categories must each be articulated in ways that do not "interrupt" each other, bringing them to "crisis." Spivak's own work is resistant to any easy categorization. Her first book, Myself I Must Remake: Life and Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1974), did not have the impact of her second publication, the 1976 translation and long foreword to deconstructive philosopher Jacques Derrida's (see Vol. 4) De la grammatologie (Of Grammatology), which established her as a theorist of note. Since then Spivak has concentrated on examining deconstruction and postcolonialism, and its implications for feminist and Marxist theory. She engages not so much the specifics of colonial rule as the forms that neocolonialism currently assumes, both in the intellectual exchanges of the First World academy and in the socioeconomic traffic between the industrialized and developing nations. In the last decade, Spivak has been associated with revisionist, post-Marxist historians who have sought to challenge the elitist presuppositions of South Asian history, whether colonial or nationalist. Her contributions include theoretical essays and translations of the Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi. Most recently, Spivak has published essays on translation and more translations of Mahasweta Devi's stories. She has also given a number of important interviews on political and theoretical issues, many of which have been collected in The Post-Colonial Critic (1990).

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