Phule

For anyone interested in the question of caste, this volume from Leftword, The Selected Wrtings of Jotirao Phule, is an indispensable resource.

"Jotirao Phule (1827-1890) was India's first systematic theorist of caste, and the most radical 19th-century opponent of it, who desired nothing less than a complete smashing up of its oppressive structure. This volume makes available for the first time all his most important prose writings in English.

At the centre of Phule's thought and analysis are Gulamgiri (Slavery) and Shetkaryacha Asud (Cultivator's Whipcord), both included in this volume in their entirety. Also included are Phule's deposition to the Hunter Commission on Education; his response to the Parsi social reformer Malabari's notes on 'Infant Marriage and Enforced Widowhood'; his letter to M. G. Ranade regarding the Marathi Author's Conference; his stirring defence of Pandita Ramabai in two numbers of the journal Satsar; and selections from The Book of the True Faith. All translations have been specially commissioned for this richly annotated volume, and the Editor's Introduction places Phule's life, work, and thought, as well as each text included in this volume, in historical perspective."

Professor G P Deshpande, translator and editor of this volume, taught at the JNU. He is as well known for his contribution to Marathi theater, having written a number of plays, including Satyashodhak, on the life and times of Jotirao Phule.

Reviewing the book in EPW, Gopal Guru says "[Deshpande] makes a brilliant attempt to foreground Phule's system of ideas in a series of tough arguments. . . . The book is going to have a scholarly impact on those who otherwise have only a political interest in reducing Phule to a cultural symbol. It will prompt some of us to liberate Phule from self-serving cultural symbolism and situate him in the tradition of self-criticism, which was one of Phule's core intellectual projects."

In our History and Dalit Studies sections. 259 pages, Rs 250, ISBN: 978-81-87496-77-9.

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