Writing Intimacy in the narrative of Partition : Amrita Pritam, Anis Kidwai and Jyotirmohee Devi Opening up Intimate Spaces : Women’s Writing and Autobiography in India

Intervenant : Anne Castaing

Poznan University
Poznan, Pologne

In her famous autobiography Azadon ki Chaon men (Urdu, 1974), Anis Kidwai opens her depiction of the violence and chaos that followed the 1947 Partition with the story of her husband’s tragic death. This valuable historical testimony that intertwines intimate narrations of pain, anxiety and loneliness clearly shows the interdependence of historical accounts and personal narratives. In Amrita Pritam’s Pinjar (Punjabi, 1950) and Jyotirmoyee Devi’s Epar Ganga Opar Ganga (Bengali, 1967), pseudo-autobiographies, though written in the third person, similarly highlight the predominance of personal experience in the narration of the Partition. These three texts undoubtedly show that women’s narratives are inextricably linked to a history of pain and, more widely, of violence ; but they also demonstrate that social history as conveyed by women (and more generally by subalterns) is elaborated through the narration of intimacy, as exemplified by Azadi ki Chaon men which nonetheless adopts a historical perspective. This paper aims at showing that whereas this feature of female Partition narratives can be understood as a specificity of subaltern historical narratives, it also reveals the way in which women’s voices internalize the metaphors of the Nation.

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