Na Hanyate / ন হন্যতে
Maitreyi Devi 1 September 1914 – 29 January 1989 was an Indian poet and novelist. She is best known for her Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel, Na Hanyate (It Does Not Die).
Devi was born in 1914. She was the daughter of philosopher Surendranath Dasgupta and protégée of poet Rabindranath Tagore.
She studied in St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Calcutta (now Kolkata) and graduated from the Jogamaya Devi College, an affiliated undergraduate women’s college of the historic University of Calcutta, in Kolkata.
She married Quinologist Dr. M.M. Sen when she was 20 and he was 34. They had two children together.
She was the founder of the Council for the Promotion of Communal Harmony in 1964, and vice-president of the All-India Women’s Coordinating Council. Her first book of verse appeared when she was sixteen, with a preface by Rabindranath Tagore. She wrote Rabindranath—the man behind his poetry.Apart from being a writer, she had also set up an orphanage for needy children later in her life.
She was also the basis for the main character in Romanian writer Mircea Eliade’s 1933 novel Bengal Nights. Bengal Nights is a semi-autobiographical piece of literature based around the time Eliade spent in Calcutta at Surendranath Dasgupta, Maitreyi Devi’s father’s house. The book explores in detail, Eliade’s affair with Maitreyi Devi and their “sexual relations” and then eventually being kicked out of Dasgupta’s house after discovering the affair between him and Maitreyi Devi. Devi was not aware either of the book, or that the name of the main character was Maitreyi, while Eliade’s name was changed to Allan. Her 1974 novel, Na Hanyate (English title, It Does Not Die: A Romance), was written as a response to Bengal Nights, and Maitreyi Devi described the romance and the cultural tensions resulted from it. Given the cultural constraints, she denies claims of a sexual affair between her and Eliade during the latter’s sojourn in British India.The book has been translated into various European languages including Eliade’s mother tongue, Romanian.
In 1938 and 1939, she invited Rabindranath Tagore to stay in her and her husband’s house in Mungpoo near Kalimpong, which later became the Rabindra Museum.
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