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Sultana's Dream

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,176 ratings  ·  183 reviews
The female narrator of Sultana’s Dream wanders into a dream city that shuns war and violence. In this utopian world, women rule and men are content with their places in the kitchen. The queen of this kingdom explains how women won and kept their peace against men and their war-like ways.

This edition of a feminist utopian classic is a conversation across time; Durga Bai, a
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Tara Books (first published 1905)
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How come this is not as famous as it should be? A 1905 science fiction short story written by a Bangladeshi Muslim feminist at the time when most women had no access to education! And it was written in English not the writer's mother tongue!

Despite being an extremely short story, it still succeeds in making a strong point. Injustice is terrible and religion, in this case Islam, is no excuse! Women have the right to walk the streets with no fears. They have the right for the best education opport
Interesting, in that the author was writing about women's rights at a time when women were still not seen as people legally in many societies. I guess her purpose in describing men in purdah in Ladyland was to highlight how ridiculous it is to control, contain and diminish half the population.
I did find the energy generation methods of Ladyland a little amusing.
The author doesn't take a nuanced view on power, instead stating that containing and controlling the men of Ladyland results in wonderf
Really bold subject considering when and where it was written. The blurb says pretty much all, so I won’t get into details; it’s a 10 minutes reading anyway.

I’ll just say that it’s pretty amazing what this woman did achieve in a conservative society like that one. And nowadays, most of us, having all the freedom we need, do nothing but complain of everything…
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How come this book not famous? This was written in 1905 by a Bangladeshi feminist Author, not even in the native language but in English, in a time where women didn't have any right for education.

This book deserves more recognition.
Sidharth Vardhan
An early feminist work from Asian sub-continent.
ρυηүα [Punya Reviews...]
I've read this amazing book a few years ago and could hardly believe that a woman from 1905's Bangladesh, when women were rarely given education, wrote something in English and a really good piece too! But that is the specialty of Begum Rokeya, who was a very gifted personality on her own right... Who flourished with the support of a generous, open-minded family behind her. She was a feminist writer (both fiction and non-fiction), critic and renowned social worker, whose bibliography isn't very ...more
Jerry Jose
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sultana's Dream was originally published in The Indian Ladies' Magazine, Madras, 1905, in English. here is a link for drm free read.

Considering the time and place it was written, this short is a badass satire on traditional stereotypes and status quo of woman in Colonial India. In Begum's vision of a feminist utopia - Ladyland, roles are gender reversed, where females lead the future with technology while men are secluded away.

The premise and metaphors are rather impressive, for example the na
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, feminist, sci-fi
An all-too-brief little story, but packs a punch. Muslim feminist utopian science fiction, you say? That predicts solar power, you say?? Written in 1905, you say???
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
By today's standards, this could be classified as proto-solarpunk. Mostly known as a feminist utopian short story, its very interesting within its historical and political context. Written in 1905 by Hossain, who advocated for Indian women's rights to education. More info here...

I believe the copyright is now in the public domain and can therefore be read online for free
I just came across this very short book while reading an article on the Taj Mahal. I was interested enough in a story taking about men in the purdah and women running the State to check it out. What is impressive about this book is that it was written by a Muslim feminist woman in 1905. The author herself has done a lot of social work by spreading awareness on women's education and has fought for the right of women to choose a career of her choice. Note, not just the right to work, but the right ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nicole by: Jean Menzies
It was really interesting reading this short feminist utopia from 1905 India. The story is understandably very simple as it is only a few pages long, but lays out various aspects of this role-reversed female-led society. Ladyland's resemblances to Herland were many (peace and no crime, vegetarianism/veganism, efficiency, freedom, highly prizing education, etc), though I'm not sure how much that is to do with the shared idea of what a specifically feminist utopia might look like verses common ide ...more
Utsav Bansal
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: whimsical, sci-fi, short
A feminist piece re-imagining the world as a matriarchal utopia, it is difficult to believe it was written in 1905 by an Indian author!
This was extremely enlightening. I liked the analysis of the story and the background information provided on conditions in the Middle East and India, specifically Bangladesh and West Bengal, during the time period. Seeing the British reaction to the circumstances put things into perspective as well. I used to share that ignorant misinformed Western outlook when it came to how women were treated in South Asia. It was foolish of me to make conclusions without first considering how South Asian wom ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The only con: I found it very cliché for 21st-century readers. But it was written in 1905, for that era, this book can be considered bold and refreshing.
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very brief story based in great part upon the question that i suspect most women either hear or posit at some point in their lives: What would the world be like if it was ruled by women?
Sultana's Dream attempts to answer that question in a very fantastic idealistic way. Of course, she makes it seem as if the world would be a lovely place to be. In a place where men are locked away and women are left to rule the world, there would be no war, no crime, sincere devotion to God, and scient
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, fiction
'Why do you allow yourselves to be shut up?'

'Because it cannot be helped as they are stronger than women.'

'A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.'
Charlotte (Charlisabeths Nivis Pluma)
A very interesting early feminist utopia. Women in Ladyland overpowered the men with their wits and learning and in doing so were able to lead their country towards a greener, technologically advanced and freer future. The story turns the social and religious norms of early 20th century India on its head by asking who really is endangering whom in the first place.
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminists, Muslims, religious scholars, speculative fiction fans
Shelves: gender, scifi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, feminist

In 1905, Begum Rokeya managed to figure out why women don't have equal rights and the brilliant role-reversal is honestly such a marvelous thing to read about. This is an iconic piece of feminist literature and I'm honestly so surprised people are sleeping on it.

Kawtar Morchid
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a sweet discovery ! I am really impressed that this precious story was written in 1905 !!! I need to read more works by Rokeya. It is a must in fact. The story is about a world where gender roles are inversed : women rule while men stay at home. A very poignant story that shows the irony of women's situation in general and Indian muslim women in particular. lovely read.
This took me literally 5 minutes to read at the hairdresser this afternoon. And I'm so glad I picked it up. It's a feminist sci-fi short story written by a Bengali Muslim woman in 1905. Like...HOW CAN YOU PASS THAT UP?!

The gist of the story is that a Sultana (i.e. the wife of a Sultan) falls asleep one afternoon. When she does, she dreams that she's in a place called Ladyland (admittedly, that part could use some work) which is basically a utopia where women are scientists and economists and ma
I have no idea how I made it 43 years without hearing about Begum Rokeya, a Bengali feminist and political activist from what is present day Bangladesh. I was amazed that this was written in 1905 and written in English! She paints a picture of how different her world would be if gender roles were reversed. She had a vivid imagination and I enjoyed reading about her flying cars and solar power! Now I look forward to talking to my Bengali family to find out why no one had ever mentioned her to me ...more
Shahriar Kabir
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To whom it may concern I want to happily challenge: Show us doing!
First thing first, it is the belief to obtain that you can what will push you to do really.
To every girl, Sultana's Dream is a dream only which is dreamt or thought to be dreamt.
If none of you dream, then simply it's a dream, a waste dream by the writer.
But if they dream this dream then it will never stay dream rather a wonderful world of a racetrack.

Getting ahead is tough, needs a lot toil, but to lag behind it's enough to ke
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Giving this a four because, as naïve as it might be, as leap-of-faith as it is... it is written in 1905.

Advocating for a feminist utopia centered in renewal energy in 1905? This should not be as silenced as it is, it shouldn't be as unknown as it is right now.

It's a 20 minute read and you'll be a better person only for knowing that this exists.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This is such a great forward thinking story. Honestly who knew there was a Bangladshi woman writing feminist short stories at the beginning of the 20th century. What a fabulous find.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully interesting utopian fiction. I'm astonished that it was written in 1905!
Anirudh Parthasarathy
Sultana’s Dream is a sci-fi pro feminism novella written during the early years of the previous century by the Bengali feminist writer Begum Rokheya. This review is solely based on the edition with illustrations from Durga Bai; and I don’t even know whether this edition is the full story or it has been abridged.

The story is straightforward, a woman by the name Sultana is led by another woman whom she presumes to be her friend Sara, takes her to a faraway land, which is far more advanced than wha
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I like this poetic line near the beginning of Sultana's Dream: “I saw the moonlit sky sparkling with thousands of diamond-like stars, very distinctly.”

I can hardly believe this book was written before L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables (1908)! I grew up reading Anne, but it's a very different look at women - as sweet, moral Victorian poetry lovers who make rhubarb pies in the kitchen.

Sultana's Dream might seem very quaint and cliched for audiences of today. But back in 1905 Bengal, it w
Bee Halton
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had chosen this book as the April read for my #supporttranslatedbooks group on Goodreads. Later I realised that this book was written in English for a women's magazine therefore not really translated but never mind :-).

It is a very short story but wonderfully written in a dream like style which fits the topic and title perfectly. I found it to be a story of harmony and hope. A revolution that happened without much violence and certainly gives something to think and dream :-) about.

The incredib
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Begum Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, popularly known as Begum Rokeya, was born in 1880 in the village of Pairabondh, Mithapukur, Rangpur, in what was then the British Indian Empire and is now Bangladesh.

Begum Rokeya was an inspiring figure who contributed much to the struggle to liberate women from the bondage of social malaises. Her life can be seen in the context of other social reformers within what

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“Why do you allow yourselves to be shut up?'

'Because it cannot be helped as they are stronger than women.'

'A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.”
“Your kitchen is not inferior to a queen's boudoir!' I replied with a pleasant smile, 'but we must leave it now; for the gentlemen may be cursing me for keeping them away from their duties in the kitchen so long.' We both laughed heartily.” 5 likes
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