The Doctor and Mrs A.

Sarah Pinto











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(Hardback | ISBN 9789385606212 | 241 pages | 2019)


In 1940/41 a young Punjabi woman, ‘Mrs A.’, ill at ease in her marriage and eager for personal and national freedom, sat down with psychiatrist, Dev Satya Nand, for an experiment in his new method of dream analysis. Her analysis included a surge of emotion and reflections on sexuality, gender, marriage, ambition, trauma, and mythology. She turned to archetypal female figures from Hindu myth—Shakuntala, Draupadi, Ahalya—to reimagine her social world and its ethical arrangements, envisioning a future beyond marriage, colonial rule, and gendered constraints. In a brilliant reading of Mrs A.’s conversations with Dr Satya Nand, the author opens a window onto gender and sexuality in late colonial Indian society, and the ways in which Mrs A. put ethics in motion, creating alternatives to ideals of belonging, recognition, and consciousness. Through a fascinating exposition, Pinto proposes the possibility of thinking with a concept of ‘counter-ethics’, and asks what perspectives on gender, power, meaning, and imagination are possible from the position of the counter-ethic, and its orientation towards mobility and change.


‘A multilayered and intelligent work.’— Alok Sarin, psychiatrist

‘Exquisitely lucid, composed in the flow of dreaming spaces, issuing a summons into thinking with all the characters, with the author’s third person persona enacting a leading role as well, The Doctor and Mrs A. is an utter charismatic delight.’—Geeta Patel, Professor, University of Virginia

‘A beautifully crafted work…Pinto’s thoughtful scholarship and elegant writing is in full bloom. A tour de force.’—Tulasi Srinivas, Professor, Emerson College