Forest Woman, The
A rich tale of Tantric ritual and court intrigue, set in eastern India during the seventeenth century, The Forest Woman shows Calcutta's most famous novelist at his incisive and alluring best.
Abandoned by his fellow travellers on a tiger-ridden shore in eastern Bengal, the narrator stumbles across Kapalkundala, a strange, beautiful woman. But she has been enslaved by a priest - who plans to sacrifice them both in an esoteric rite. The only way for Kapalkundala and the narrator to escape is by marrying each other and travelling on to town in disguise. As soon as they reach the road, however, they encounter a second woman – as beguiling as the first and laden with jewels. Apparently a Muslim aristocrat from the court of Emperor Akbar, she appears to know more about the narrator than she should.
Suddenly encountering this divine figure in the midst of such a wilderness, Nabokumar stood transfixed. Robbed of speech, he gazed at her in silence. She, too, fixed the unwavering, unblinking gaze of her enormous eyes on Nabokumar’s face. But Nabokumar’s eyes bore a startled expression, while the young woman showed no signs of surprise; instead, her gaze expressed acute anxiety.
‘The publication of The Forest Woman took the Kolkata literary world by storm, and confirmed Bankim Chandra’s reputation as one of the pioneers of the Indian novel.’
– Radha Chakravarty