Ratanbai - A High-Caste Child-Wife

Ratanbai - A High-Caste Child-Wife

Product ID: 12894

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Author: Chandani Lokuge
Shevantibai Nikambe/
Editor(s): Chandani Lokuge
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 107
ISBN/UPC (if available): 019566311X


Ratanbai traces the poignant life story of a Marathi Brahmin girl from early childhood, through to child-marriage and into maturity.

As the daughter of a westernized lawyer father and a deeply traditional mother, young Ratanbai is caught in the grips of the East-West encounter within the precincts of her own home. The novel serves as a socio-historic document offering insights into the domestic routine and distinctive familial and religious custom of Marathi Brahmin women in late nineteenth-century Bombay, as well as a feminist text about the intellectual and emotional awakening of its female protagonist. Intimate an moving, Ratanbai includes eloquent photographs of child-wives which tell a narrative of their own.

Very little is known about the author, Shevantibai Nikambe, except that she was the head of a school for young wives, widows, and grown-up girls from the high-caste Hindu community. This novel is a rare contribution to Indian fiction written in English, and to women's studies.


The achievements of such an edition are manifold: the discovery of the significance of women in the appropriation of the Western culture by Indian writing; the revelation of the early origins of such appropriation; and the uncovering of a rich historical resource which deconstructs our ideas of literary history…the editor has situated the text very astutely in contemporary debates about colonialist representation.
-Bill Ashcroft, University of New South Wales, Australia


Note on the Text

Shevantibai Nikambe (b 1865)

A Chronology of Shevantibai Nikambe

Introduction by Chandani Lokuge

Ratanbai: A High-Caste Child-Wife

Diacritics used in the first edition

Afterword by Makarand Paranjape

Explanatory Notes

Pandita Ramabai and the Problem of India" Married
Women and Widows' by Shevantibai Nikambe