Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sultana’s Dream by Begum Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

Sultana’s Dream first appeared in 1905, ten years before the American feminist and novelist, Charlotte P. Gilman, published her feminist utopia Herland. Sultana’s Dream is an appealing story of reversed purdah – the secularism of women – in Ladyland, where peace-loving women overpower aggressive men through the power of their brains.’

Sultana’s Dream is a sci-fi pro feminism novella written during the early years of the previous century by the Bengali feminist writer Begum Rokheya. This review is solely based on the edition with illustrations from Durga Bai; and I don’t even know whether this edition is the full story or it has been abridged.

The story is straightforward, a woman by the name Sultana is led by another woman whom she presumes to be her friend Sara, takes her to a faraway land, which is far more advanced than what she has seen in India – with solar powered kitchens, devices up in the air which stops rainfall and in turn provides endless supply of water, irrigation fully carried out using electricity, etc. This is a land completely ruled by women and where men are confined inside the houses, the converse of what used to happen in early 20th century India.

I really loved the imagination of the author in this book; to think of solar powered kitchens back in 1905, flying machines three decades before it was invented and for putting forth feminist thoughts at a time when subjugation was considered normal and that too, hailing from one of the most conservative regions of the country (which it till date is); is something commendable. I also liked the illustrations of Durga Bai in traditional Bengali art, especially, that of the solar powered kitchen (as shown above) and I guess that makes the book adorable across all age groups. Also, the book didn’t drag on pointlessly and ended when it had to, making it the perfect novella.

However, what I totally loathed was that the author is such a militant feminist, she is not a feminist who is fighting for the equality of women in the society, but represents that extreme brand of feminism (I don’t even consider that as feminism, would prefer using the term that is circulated in the internet – feminazism) which merely promotes hatred towards more than anything else. All that this book tries to portray is that men are absolutely good for nothing, in their seven hours of working life; they work for an hour and spend the rest of the time smoking, and several other absolutely preposterous remarks. Had a man written a novel, merely portraying the society as it was in those days, would’ve been condemned as a chauvinist but it is rather unfortunate that media houses and several other feminazis support these kind of women. Personally, I consider myself a feminist who supports equality and stops at equality. 

Leaving my personal opinions apart, purely seeing it as a story, I feel it is a decent work and could be a really good read to keep yourself occupied during a short travel. While I might have given this book a rating of seven, I can’t ignore her rather radical opinions and hence, I award this book a rating of six.

Rating – 6/10

Have a nice day,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...