Texts, Readings, Histories
The importance of ÅšakuntalÄ as personifying Indian womanhood in Indian literature and culture is undisputed. This book attempts to explore some of the links between culture, history and gender, and between literature and history, through reading variant versions of the narrative of ÅšakuntalÄ. These include the stories in the MahÄbhÄrata, the play by KÄlidÄsa, and the 18th century kathÄ in Braj. The transformation of ÅšakuntalÄ from an autonomous assertive figure in the MahÄbhÄrata to the quintessential submissive woman in the KÄlidÄsa version is carefully examined by the author through a fascinating reading of the texts and translations of the play in India and Europe.