1st Edition

Literature, Gender, and the Trauma of Partition The Paradox of Independence

By Debali Mookerjea-Leonard Copyright 2017
    ISBN 9780367875060
    212 Pages
    Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge

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    ISBN 9781138183100
    212 Pages
    Published April 17, 2017 by Routledge

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    Partition occurring simultaneously with British decolonization of the Indian subcontinent led to the formation of independent India and Pakistan. While the political and communal aspects of the Partition have received some attention, its enormous personal and psychological costs have been mostly glossed over, particularly when it comes to the splitting of Bengal. The memory of this historical ordeal has been preserved in literary archives, and these archives are still being excavated.

    This book examines neglected narratives of the Partition of India in 1947 to study the traces left by this foundational trauma on the national- and regional-cultural imaginaries in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. To arrive at a more complex understanding of how Partition experiences of violence, migration, and displacement shaped postcolonial societies and subjectivities in South Asia, the author analyses, through novels and short stories, multiple cartographies of disorientation and anxiety in the post-Partition period. The book illuminates how contingencies of political geography cut across personal and collective histories, and how these intersections are variously marked and mediated by literature. Examining works composed in Bengali and other South Asian languages, this book seeks to broaden and complicate existing conceptions of what constitutes the Partition literary archive.

    A valuable addition to the growing field of Partition studies, this book will be of interest to scholars of South Asian history, gender studies, and literature.


    1. Tainted Liberty: women and the Partition

    2. Midnight’s Children: inhabiting the postcolonial landscape

    3. Teachers, Train Hawkers, Sales-Girls: women, work, and the family

    4. The Diminished Man: the mythic and the mundane

    5. Geographies of Belonging: home and the persistence of memory

    6. Recasting Men: constructing the model male citizen

    7. Identity Lessons: trauma and children’s education in difference



    Debali Mookerjea-Leonard is Associate Professor of English and World Literature at James Madison University, US.

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