Words to Win: The Making of a Modern Autobiography

by Tanika Sarkar

Words to Win incorporates a translation of major sections of this remarkable autobiography. Tanika Sarkar studies the making of an early modern subject - the woman who wants to compose a life of her own, who wishes to present it in the public sphere and who eventually does accomplish that: the words win out, in the end. The first full-length autobiography in Bengali was written in the early nineteenth century by an upper-caste rural housewife called Rashundari Debi. Published in 1868 when she was 88 years old, Amar Jiban (My Life) is a fascinating first-hand account of life for women in Bengal at that time. Mother to eleven children her first born when she was 18, the last when she was 41. Debi reflects on her very individual understanding of bhakti and on the new times that were unfolding around her.

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