15 May, 2021

Slaying Meghnad In Palashi

A study of the Bengali literary canon looks at pre-Tagore figures through both literary history and its historiography

Slaying Meghnad In Palashi

Perhaps no place on earth has spawned more poets than the lower delta of Bengal, and now­here has poetry been so intima­tely connected with the ideas of nation and nationality, culture and society. But the figure of Tagore has loomed so large over this landscape that other poets have often been consigned to the margins of this literary history. Rosinka Chaudhuri’s ambitious new study is an attempt to rem­edy this lack and throws light on early attempts to construct a Bengali literary canon.

The figures who constitute this canon are a group of poets of the mid-19th century: the prolific Ishwarchandra Gupta, the scholar-administrator Rangalal Bandyopadhyay, the nationalists Hemchandra Bandyopadhyay and Nabinchandra Sen, and of course, the trailblazing Mic­hael Madhusudan Datta. In the concluding chapter, the young Tag­ore’s waking to the ‘extraordinary dawn’ of Nirjharer Swapnabhanga (Awakening of the Fountain) serves as coda to this narrative. But as Chaudhuri points out, this is not an excursion into straightforward...

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