[Tagore photo, seated]

Rabindranath Tagore



Tagore was a Bengali writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. He was born in Calcutta and later traveled over the world. He grew up in a large house where there was much writing and artistic activity, and he wrote prolifically his entire life, producing more than 3,000 songs as well as volumes of novels, short stories, plays, and poems. In later life he delivered lectures and made many paintings. He wrote what are now the national anthems of both India and Bangladesh.

Tagore (who perhaps should be referred to as "Rabindranath" as Bengalis do with other famous writers) became famous in the West when he traveled to England and met W. B. Yeats and others, and translated his works into English. He was knighted in 1915--but, after the massacre in India in 1919 of demonstrators, gave up his knighthood. Although he did not agree with all the political activities and nationalistic principles of the movements for independence, he did participate in them along with Gandhi.

After a short spell of fame in the West, and after he gave up his knighthood, Tagore's English writings lapsed into a sort of obscurity. Very recently some editors and translators have realized that Tagore is very much a modernist writer in spite of the previous criticism that placed him in the sentimentalist or mystical Edwardian camp. It seems quite possible to improve on the earlier translations and make Tagore's works sing again to modern readers in English.

We would like to call your attention to two recent English translations: "Selected Poems" by William Radice (Penguin ISBN 0-14-018366-3); and stories and other writings, "The Housewarming", (Signet Classic paperback), edited by Amiya Chakravarty, and translated as well by Mary Lago and Tarun Gupta. You may buy books by Tagore through India Book House as well as amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online.

More biography is available online, as well as the text in Bengali and English of the Bangladesh national anthem.

A few more poems and other information might be found online by doing a /Search/. Some poems were posted under what is left of Arghya Chatterjee's home page for West Bengal, at http://userpages.umbc.edu/~achatt1/wbengal.html, both in English translation, and some in Bengali script. There is more Tagore info online at Sandeep Mitra's Tagore home page as well, at www.cs.brockport.edu/~smitra/tagore.html. Another Tagore home page is at http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/4637/Rabita.htm