Introducing this issue of book review articles, I start with Meenakshi Mukherjee's review of the anthology. Women Writing in India: 600 BC to the Present, as this deals with a book that serves an emblematic function by the sheer elan of the little known authors who comprise the accumulated text. It also serves the more sustained archival function of aligning, collating, compounding different registers of the female voice. Susie Tharu and K. Lalita, the editors of the anthology, working with a large set of authors and texts in translation, have raised it above the site of a good concert into an argument about the grain of voice, about the tenor and style of emancipatory speech and writing. The Introduction to this first volume (of what is to be a two-volume set) is a seminal essay intervening in the cumulative gain of feminist theory. But what is equally important is that within its feminist/countercultural purpose, it stakes out a ground that will not be subsumed in a third worldist anthropological theory of cultural production. It proposes, instead, a hermenuetic task of recapitulating knowledges and knowing. For beyond the categories of the sacred and the profane, into which any 'traditional' text may be categorized, the task is to lift and reinscribe the articulations of the female self in history. The Introduction to this volume suggests that this self is defined not only in terms of sexual difference, but as an embodied act of being in the world with full right, in retrospect, of transforming the world through the praxis of speech and writing.
There are two reviews of books on theatre: Theatre and the World: Essays on Performance and the Politics of Culture and Actors, Pilgrims, Kings and Gods: The Ramlila at Ramnagar. Both authors, Rustom Bharucha and Anuradha Kapur, are trained to read and teach drama, to do theatre, and to critique performance. And as it happens they are, in relation to one another, trying to find a methodology, a style, a language, to speak about performance theory in a way that is not simply translated into the generalized postmodern business of cultural discourse. According to both there are discipllinary histories/rules/reflexes, of specific performance traditions. While Bharucha argues, polemicizes and demonstrates methodological options, Anuradha Kapur produces a phenomenological rendering of a complete epic performance, the Ramlila of Ramnagar. Both emphasize what Lucien Goldmann called cultural creation which is inevitably collective.
The review critics, Vasudha Dalmia-Luderitz and Avanthi Meduri, take stock of