The Essential Rokeya

The Essential Rokeya

Literature

The Essential Rokeya
Selected Works of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932)

Author(s): Mohammad A. Quayum

Reviewed by: Mahmudul Hasan, International Islamic University, Malaysia

 

Review

In Bangladesh, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880–1932) is highly regarded as a literary and cultural icon and reformist writer who advocated women’s rights. There is a debate concerning her ideological stance. For the most part, commentators agree that her feminist framework was grounded in Islamic principles; but some characterize her as a secular intellectual critical of Islam. Mohammad A. Quayum’s The Essential Rokeya will aid readers, especially those from beyond the borders of Bengal, to understand her philosophical background and literary traditions and interests. Although Rokeya’s revolutionary writing created huge uproar in Bengal during her lifetime, she was forgotten for a long time after her death. She reemerged as a formidable literary giant when her capable literary and intellectual successor, the poet-critic Abdul Quadir (1906–1984), collected and edited her works, which the Bangla Academy in Dhaka published in 1973 as Rokeya Rachanabali. Roushan Jahan made the earliest significant attempt to translate Rokeya into English by producing Inside Seclusion: The Avarodhbasini of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (Dhaka: Women for Women, 1981). The second significant translation of Rokeya’s work was Barnita Bagchi’s Sultana’s Dream and Padmarag: Two Feminist Utopias (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2005).


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