08 March, 2021

On The Sun That Never Set

Two on Tagore: one inspects his worldview through the poetry; the other suggests loneliness as his creative fount

AFP (From Outlook, April 09, 2012)
On The Sun That Never Set

Who was Rabindranath Tagore, really? Thrust afresh upon India in the 150th year of his birth through seminars, festivals and a string of books, the most elusive of Indian writers has become some sort of a mystic figure, floating in a cloud of cliches: that his ideas were remarkably prescient; that his poetry and songs cannot be appreciated outside the Bengali language; and that he composed the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.

Indeed, as Amit Chaudhuri wickedly notes in his collection of five essays, the response to Tagore has often been similar to that of reading Paulo Coelho for the first time (gasp! my life has changed!). Labelled variously as philosopher, seer and futurist, Tagore stands as a vending machine of ideas rather than the creator of an incredible oeuvre—including poetry, novels, short stories, plays, music, essays, travelogues, textbooks, even questions for school examinations.

Fortunately, Chaudhuri’s collection is one of two recent books which can be used to enter the difficult terrain of...

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