Smritichitre: The Memoirs of a Spirited Wife

Lakshmi Bai Tilak



Lakshmi Bai Tilak was born in 1868 into a strict Maharashtrian Brahmin family in a village near Nashik. And at the age of eleven, she was married off to poet Narayan Waman Tilak, a man much older than her. In Smritichitre, Lakshmi Bai candidly describes her complex relationship with her husband—their constant bickering over his disregard for material possessions, which quite often left them penniless and his bouts of intense rage in these moments.

But at the core of their relationship was their concern for society and the well-being of every human being, irrespective of caste, class or gender and their unwavering devotion to each other. Equally touching is her recounting of his conversion to Christianity which led to a separation of five long years. After their reunion, she, too, was gradually disillusioned with orthodox Hindu customs and caste divisions and converted to Christianity.

After Narayan Tilak’s death in 1919, she came into her own as a matron in a girls’ hostel in Mumbai and later gathered enough courage to move to Karachi with her family. When first published in Marathi in 1934, Smritichitre became an instant classic. Lakshmi Bai's honesty and her recounting of every difficulty she faced with unfailing humour make Smritichitre a memorable read. Shanta Gokhale’s masterly translation of this classic is the only complete one available in English.


‘What is overpowering about the book is the presentation of intimate pasts made public with inimitable frankness and humour…It is deeply self-reflexive instead, and the writer continually surpasses the reader's expectations in her journey towards transcending caste prejudices and prescribed gender roles... Little did I imagine that the book would turn out to be such an important source for understanding gender and conversion in colonial India, particularly Christian conversions.’—The Telegraph

…what sets Smritichitre apart is its readability and the careless ease with which Lakshmibai uses humour and irony in describing even her most grim ordeals….one reads it and returns to it with pleasure and interest.’—The Hindustan Times

‘Lakshmibai Tilak’s Smritichitre: The Memoirs of a Spirited Wife is such a story of an ordinary woman, who on the strength of her homespun values and ingenuity, rises above her restrictive familial traditions and evolves a progressive culture and artistic taste that not only refine and enrich the family’s thoughts and values, but also set the right tone for her later generations to engage in.’—The Free Press Journal

Language English
ISBN-10 9386582570
ISBN-13 978-9386582577
No of pages 520
Book Publisher Speaking Tiger Books
Published Date 10 Oct 2017

About Author

Author : Lakshmi Bai Tilak


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