Author: Ruth Vanita
Translator(s)/Editor: Ruth Vanita
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195674863
The first public debate on homosexuality in modern India occurred in the 1920s, in the thick of the movement for national independence. It was sparked off by a collection of Hindi short stories entitled Chocolate (1927), by Hindi nationalist writer Pandey Bechan Sharma, better known by his pen-name Ugra (extreme). The stories created such an uproar that almost every major public figure, from Premchand to Gandhi, joined in the debate.
This first-ever English translation of Ugra’s work raises issues as salient today as eight decades ago: the interpretation of text, the role of fiction in relation to society, and the morality of same-sex erotic relationships. Ugra’s writings provide a window on nationalist constructions of Indian identity, especially in relation to ideas of India’s past; of gender, masculinity, and sexuality; and of Hindu-Muslim and Indian-foreign relations. Many of the prejudices and ideas bandied about in the 1920s still hold centre stage, and resurface in debates about sexuality, obscenity, censorship, and the civil rights of gay people.
In her introduction, Ruth Vanita, who has extensively studied the pre-modern and modern history of same-sex relationships in India, discusses the book’s ambivalent portrayal of homosexuality and the debate it sparked off among Hindi littérateurs and nationalists.
General readers interested in the history of same-sex relations in India, modern Indian fiction, and early twentieth-century India, as well as teachers and scholars of English literature, translation studies, gender studies, Indian history, and sociology will find this volume engaging.
Pandey Bechan Sharma Ugra claimed that his stories would help rid the nation of vice, but his critics argued otherwise. This collection of short stories and novel extracts, translated into English for the first time, highlight Ugra’s unique position on homoerotic love.
A resplendent translation of an underground classic on a subject-homosexual desire-that still remains largely confined to the closet in India. Ruth Vanita has done an admirable service to Indian literature by giving this important work of Hindi fiction another life through her translation, and a luminous introduction that brings out the ambiguities of the text and the ambivalences of its path-breaking author. A rare book that will delight and enlighten the common as well as the scholarly reader.
-Krishna Baldev Vaid, acclaimed Hindi novelist and short story writer
NOTE ON THIS TRANSLATION
We are in Love with Lucknow
Waist Curved Like as She-Cobra
O Beautiful Young Man!
From Letters of Some Beautiful Ones
From Life is Brief: Enjoy It