Ār konakhāne / ‘Somewhere Else’: Utopian Resonances in Lila Majumdar’s Autobiographical Writing





Lila Majumdar, modernity, utopia, gender, reformist, autobiography


Ār konakhāne / ‘Somewhere Else’: Utopian Resonances in Lila Majumdar’s Autobiographical Writing

This article examines the autobiographical writings of Lila Majumdar, 1908–2007, a writer most famous for zany, fantastical, defamiliarizing, speculative fiction for children and young adults. Majumdar was an influential maker of cultural history. While her natal Ray/Raychaudhuri family comprised master entertainers who simultaneously brought reformist, innovative values into the public sphere of the arts, the leading woman writer from this milieu, in her autobiographical and memoir-based volumes Ār konakhāne (‘Somewhere Else’, [1967] 1989), Pākdaṇḍī (‘Winding, Hilly Road’, [1986] 2001), and Kheror khātā (‘Miscellany’ or ‘Scrapbook’, [1982] 2009), imaginatively created utopias. These ‘otherwheres’, to use a word that captures utopian connotations that she creates in her writing, give voice to the marginal and the liminal. We find in her autobiographical writing the dual urge of longing for a utopian elsewhere, and a dissatisfaction with all the places one finds temporary mooring in.


Bagchi, B. 2009. Cheery children, Growing Girls, and Developing Young Adults: On Reading Growing and Hopscotching across Categories. In: R. B. Chatterjee and N. Gupta (eds.). Reading Children: Essays on Children’s Literature. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan: 163–181.

— (ed.). 2012. The Politics of the (Im)possible: Utopia and Dystopia Reconsidered. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India.

—. 2014a. Fruits of Knowledge: Polemics, Humour and Moral Education in the Writings of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Lila Majumdar and Nabaneeta Dev Sen. In: Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(2): 126–138.

—. 2014b. Connecting Literature and History of Education. Analysing the Educative Fiction of Jean Webster and Lila Majumdar Transculturally and Connotatively. In: B. Bagchi, E. Fuchs and K. Rousmaniere (eds.). Connecting Histories of Education Transnational and Cross-cultural Exchanges in (Post)colonial Education. Oxford–New York: Berghahn Books: 213–226.

Bidyaratna, R. [1888] 1982. Kuli Kahini. Kolkata: Jogamaya Prakashani.

Chattopadhyay, D. 2010. Nonsense Club and Monday Club: The Cultural Utopias of Sukumar Ray. In: M. Corporaal and E. J. Van Leeuwen (eds.). The Literary Utopias of Cultural Communities, 1790–1910. Amsterdam–New York: Rodopi: 243–252.

Corporaal, M. and E. J. van Leeuwen (eds.). 2010. The Literary Utopias of Cultural Communities, 1790–1910. Amsterdam–New York: Rodopi.

Dutton, J. 2010. ‘Non-western’ Utopian Traditions. In: G. Claeys (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 223–258. https://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521886659.010.

Foucault, M. and J. Miskowiec. 1986. Of other spaces. In: Diacritics, 16(1): 22–27.

George, K. M. (ed.). 1992. Modern Indian Literature, an Anthology: Surveys and Poems. Vol. 3. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.

Lowe, L. 2001. Utopia and Modernity: Some Observations from the Border. In: Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society, 13(2): 10–18.

Majumdar, L. 1939. Badyinātherbaŗi. Publisher Unknown.

—. 1948. Din Dupure. Kolkata: Signet Press.

—. 1953. Padipisir Barmi Baksa. Kolkata: Signet Press.

—. 1963. Vakavadha Pālā. Kolkata: Balaka Prakashani.

—. 1983. Hāwār Dāṁri. Kolkata: Indian Associated Publishers.

—. [1982] 2009. Kheror Khātā. Kolkata: Ananda Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

—. [1967] 1989. Ār konakhāne. Kolkata: Mitra and Ghosh.

—. [1986] 2001. Pākdaṇḍī. Kolkata: Ananda Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2001.

—. 2010. The Burmese Box: Two Novellas. (Trans. Subhadra Sengupta). New Delhi: Puffin Classics.

Majumdar, L., and K. Chatterjee. 1979. Rānnār Bai. Kolkata: Ananda.

Sargent, L. T. 2010. Utopianism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sarkar, T. 1999. Words to Win. The Making of Amar Jiban: a Modern Autobiography. New Delhi: Zubaan.

Smith, S. and J. Watson. 2010. Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.




How to Cite

Bagchi, Barnita. 2018. “Ār konakhāne / ‘Somewhere Else’: Utopian Resonances in Lila Majumdar’s Autobiographical Writing”. Cracow Indological Studies 20 (2):163-78. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.20.2018.02.08.