Books of Rabindranath Tagore
         
 
                     
                             
 


 

Books of Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore's literary reputation is disproportionately influenced by regard for his poetry; however, he also wrote novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, and thousands of songs. Of Tagore's prose, his short stories are perhaps most highly regarded; indeed, he is credited with originating the Bangla-language version of the genre. His works are frequently noted for their rhythmic, optimistic, and lyrical nature. However, such stories mostly borrow from deceptively simple subject matter — the lives of ordinary people.

Novels and non-fiction
Tagore wrote eight novels and four novellas, including Chaturanga, Shesher Kobita, Char Odhay, and Noukadubi. Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) — through the lens of the idealistic zamindar protagonist Nikhil — excoriates rising Indian nationalism, terrorism, and religious zeal in the Swadeshi movement; a frank expression of Tagore's conflicted sentiments, it emerged out of a 1914 bout of depression. Indeed, the novel bleakly ends with Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence and Nikhil's being (probably mortally) wounded. In some sense, Gora shares the same theme, raising controversial questions regarding the Indian identity. As with Ghore Baire, matters of self-identity (jati), personal freedom, and religion are developed in the context of a family story and love triangle. Another powerful story is Yogayog (Nexus), where the heroine Kumudini — bound by the ideals of Shiva-Sati, exemplified by Dakshayani — is torn between her pity for the sinking fortunes of her progressive and compassionate elder brother and his foil: her exploitative, rakish, and patriarchical husband. In it, Tagore demonstrates his feminist leanings, using pathos to depict the plight and ultimate demise of Bengali women trapped by pregnancy, duty, and family honour; simultaneously, he treats the decline of Bengal's landed oligarchy.

Other novels were more uplifting: Shesher Kobita (translated twice — Last Poem and Farewell Song) is his most lyrical novel, with poems and rhythmic passages written by the main character (a poet). It also contains elements of satire and postmodernism, whereby stock characters gleefully attack the reputation of an old, outmoded, oppressively-renowned poet who, incidentally, goes by the name of Rabindranath Tagore. Though his novels remain among the least-appreciated of his works, they have been given renewed attention via film adaptations by such directors as Satyajit Ray; these include Chokher Bali and Ghare Baire; many have soundtracks featuring selections from Tagore's own rabindrasangit. Tagore also wrote many non-fiction books, writing on topics ranging from Indian history to linguistics. In addition to autobiographical works, his travelogues, essays, and lectures were compiled into several volumes, including Iurop Jatrir Patro (Letters from Europe) and Manusher Dhormo (The Religion of Man).

Tagore's experience in theatre began at age sixteen, when he played the lead role in his brother Jyotirindranath's adaptation of Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. At age twenty, he wrote his first drama-opera — Valmiki Pratibha (The Genius of Valmiki) — which describes how the bandit Valmiki reforms his ethos, is blessed by Saraswati, and composes the Ramayana.Through it, Tagore vigorously explores a wide range of dramatic styles and emotions, including usage of revamped kirtans and adaptation of traditional English and Irish folk melodies as drinking songs.[53] Another notable play, Dak Ghar (The Post Office), describes how a child — striving to escape his stuffy confines — ultimately "fall[s] asleep" (which suggests his physical death).

In 1890 he wrote Visarjan (Sacrifice), regarded as his finest drama.[52] The Bangla-language originals included intricate subplots and extended monologues. Later, his dramas probed more philosophical and allegorical themes; these included Dak Ghar. Another is Tagore's Chandalika (Untouchable Girl), which was modeled on an ancient Buddhist legend describing how Ananda — the Gautama Buddha's disciple — asks water of an Adivasi ("untouchable") girl. Lastly, among his most famous dramas is Raktakaravi (Red Oleanders), which tells of a kleptocratic king who enriches himself by forcing his subjects to mine. The heroine, Nandini, eventually rallies the common people to destroy these symbols of subjugation. Tagore's other plays include Chitrangada, Raja, and Mayar Khela. Dance dramas based on Tagore's plays are commonly referred to as rabindra nritya natyas.

Tagore's three-volume Galpaguchchha, is a collection of eighty-four stories. Such stories usually showcase Tagore’s reflections upon his surroundings, on modern and fashionable ideas, and on interesting mind puzzles (which Tagore was fond of testing his intellect with). Tagore's Golpoguchchho (Bunch of Stories) remains among Bangla literature's most popular fictional works, providing subject matter for many successful films and theatrical plays. Satyajit Ray's film Charulata was based upon Tagore's controversial novella, Nastanirh (The Broken Nest). In Atithi (also made into a film), the young Brahmin boy Tarapada shares a boat ride with a village zamindar. The boy reveals that he has run away from home, only to wander around ever since. Taking pity, the zamindar adopts him and ultimately arranges his marriage to the zamindar's own daughter. However, the night before the wedding, Tarapada runs off — again. Strir Patra (The Letter from the Wife) is among Bangla literature's earliest depictions of the bold emancipation of women. The heroine Mrinal, the wife of a typical patriarchical Bengali middle class man, writes a letter while she is traveling (which constitutes the whole story). It details the pettiness of her life and struggles; she finally declares that she will not return to her husband's home . In (Haimanti), Tagore takes on the institution of Hindu marriage, describing the dismal lifelessness of married Bengali women, hypocrisies plaguing the Indian middle classes, and how Haimanti, a sensitive young woman, must — due to her sensitiveness and free spirit — sacrifice her life. In the last passage, Tagore directly attacks the Hindu custom of glorifying Sita's attempted self-immolation as a means of appeasing her husband Rama's doubts. Tagore also examines Hindu-Muslim tensions in Musalmani Didi, which in many ways embodies the essence of Tagore's humanism. On the other hand, (Darpaharan) exhibits Tagore's self-consciousness, describing a young man harboring literary ambitions. Though he loves his wife, he wishes to stifle her own literary career, deeming it unfeminine. Tagore himself, in his youth, seems to have harbored similar ideas about women. Darpaharan depicts the final humbling of the man via his acceptance of his wife's talents. As many other Tagore stories, (Jibito o Mrito) provides the Bengalis with one of their more widely used epigrams: "Kadombini died, thereby proved that she hadn't".

Tagore's poetry varied in style from classical formalism to the comic, visionary, and ecstatic. Tagore was also influenced by the mysticism of the rishi-authors who — including Vyasa — wrote the Upanishads, the Bhakta-Sufi mystic Kabir, and Ramprasad. Yet Tagore's poetry became most innovative and mature after his exposure to rural Bengal's folk music, which included ballads sung by Baul folk singers — especially the bard Lalan Sah. These — which were rediscovered and popularised by Tagore — resemble 19th-century Kartabhaja hymns that emphasize inward divinity and rebellion against religious and social orthodoxy.

Later, Tagore responded to the (mostly) crude emergence of modernism and realism in Bengali literature by writing experimental works in the 1930s. Examples works include Africa and Camalia, which are among the better known of his latter poems. He also occasionally wrote poems using Shadhu Bhasha (a Sanskritised dialect of Bangla); later, he began using Cholti Bhasha (a more popular dialect). Other notable works include Manasi, Sonar Tori (Golden Boat), Balaka (Wild Geese — the title being a metaphor for migrating souls), and Purobi. However, internationally, Gitanjali is Tagore's best-known collection, winning him his Nobel Prize.

Music and artwork
Tagore was an accomplished musician and painter, writing around 2,230 songs. They comprise rabindrasangit ), now an integral part of Bengali culture. Tagore's music is inseparable from his literature, most of which — poems or parts of novels, stories, or plays alike — became lyrics for his songs. Among them are two such works: Bangladesh's Amar Sonaar Baanglaa and India's Jana Gana Mana ; Tagore thus became the only person ever to have written the national anthems of two nations.

 

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Tagore
Tagore with his wife
tagore in his youth