[ Brian Hatcher's Aji hote satabarsha pare: What Tagore Says to us a Century Later ]

A wonderful address! Thank you! I want to read Hatcher's book Eclecticism now.

Tim Lash

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ Parabaas Tagore Section ]

I really liked your Tagore Issue. Is there any book where the translated works of Tagore are collected as one book, in all scripts for a glimpse of the world in which, Tagore's works have been translated and are still getting translated. Within India, and in how many dialects?

Dhriti Bagchi

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ K. K. Dyson on Tagore's protanopia ]

As a Bengali, a Brahmo, a frequent visitor to Santiniketan and someone who grew up steeped in Tagore's songs and art, this article was literally an 'eye opener"...Ketaki Kushari Dyson's amazing research (and such lucid presentation) held me spell bound. One thought one knew most of the main aspects of Tagore's life and work but this was new, to me at least. It will help me to look at Tagore's paintings and poetry afresh and with a much clearer understanding of his palette. I would be happy if there was greater awareness about him and more such articles are available on the net.

Rita Ronita Sen

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ On Tagore, and the poem The Year 1400 ]

The Vishwa Kabi (Poet of the world) is very much alive and in our hearts on his 150th birth anniversary. In his poem "The Year 1400" (আজি হতে শতবর্ষ পরে) he had doubt if we would remember this genius. He is the lifeblood of Bangla literature and culture in both Bangladesh and India. He is also the author of the national anthems of both the countries. His literary skills cast a magic spell on mankind. He was also a philosopher par excellence who loved humanity. He is Bangladesh's Leonardo da Vinci. He is our Renaissance man.

Bangladesh television also showed a program where singers and dancers from all over the world including China, South Korea, Japan, the US and Europe sang and danced in tune with his songs in Bangla.

In a trouble-strewn world Tagore's need to be present at this time is deeply felt.

Javed Zaman

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ Bhaswati Ghosh's translation New Doll ]

The story is amazing and to put that into English needs a distinctive linguistic spirit. Bhaswati Ghosh evinces flair, intensity and occasionally a transcreative power to plumb haunting depths of the story. Congrats to both Bhaswati and Parabaas...Nice way to pay homage to the supreme genius...best wishes for future ventures!

Upal Deb

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

Thanks for the story. Tagore explores craft to bridge human relationships. He also opens space for the young, the new come forward and the past be only past and the old man's experience and obstinacy at making dolls has become an opportunity for the young man win "the human doll". It's great!


(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ Sreejata Guha's translation F is for Fail ]

Nalin takes the capital F for fail. Instead of choosing what would be good for him he was keen on disputing Nanda's achievements. The world has got space for all of us to play, why should he play in other people's ground?


(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ Freedom in Tagore's Plays by Bhaswati Ghosh]

It is high time that people discuss Tagore's plays which, due to their content, have remained outside the critique of Tagore's works. At least it is being 'deconstructed' to use modern English Literature usage.

Priyadarshi Datta (Alabama, USA)

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ Mussolini and Tagore by Kalyan Kundu]

It is a very interesting article indeed. There is a kind of pattern in Tagore's dealings with at least three countries: Italy, the Soviet Union and Iran. In all the three cases Tagore was initially misinformed about the real situations in the countries and took his misconceptions for a reality worthy of his praises. Later history in all the three cases proved the praises of Tagore to be misplaced. At least in two cases (those of Italy and the USSR) Tagore himself had to correct his views after a while.

Sergei Serebriany

(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ Prasenjit Gupta's translation A Wife's Letter ]

Amazing. Really good work. Thank you for the translation.


(Published in Parabaas: June, 2011)

[ A little known "Tagoreana"]

Sukhendu Dev's chance "discovery" of some letters and photographs related to Tagore prompts me to share with your readers the following three photographs:

1. Photograph of "Sashi Ville"--the house in Baranagar where Prashantachandra Mahalanobis and his wife, Rani Mahalanobis used to stay, before they moved to their new home Amrapali.

2. A poem written by Tagore for Mrs. Parul Devi, who used to visit Tagore as a young girl at this house.

3. Tagore and Parul Devi:

There is a little known book by Ms. Priti Chakrovorti, niece of Parul Devi, titled Rabindranather Chithi Parul Debi ke (Kalyani University Publication Division) where more information can be found. The photos have been taken by myself.

Kamal Banerjee

(Published in Parabaas: October, 2010)

[ Article: The Forgotten Stone: On Rabindranath Tagore and Latin America by Alfonso Chacon R.]

I have just read the article by Alfonso Chacon R. on your website ( http://www.parabaas.com/SHEET3/LEKHA16/forgotten.html ).

I have been working on a translation of Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Desperation, and was intrigued by the references to Tagore in that work. I very much agree with what Senor Chacon says about Tagore's work having arrived at just the right moment to have a big influence in South America.

I am more used to Brazilian (Portuguese) poetry than the Spanish American variety. In Brazil there was a cultural movement called Antopofagia (or Cannibalism) in the 1920s, by means of which Brazilian writers wished to assert themselves as distinctively Brazilian. They saw themselves as 'dining on' influences from abroad, and chiefly from Europe, but only absorbing the ones that suited them. Thus European writers have long had a very big influence in Brazil, but in a way that does not necessarily bear any resemblance to the importance those same European writers enjoyed back home in their own countries. Obscure writers and thinkers sometimes became important in Brazil, but were largely forgotten in their own countries. On the other hand, many influential European writers were completely ignored in Brazil. In other words, some European writers were 'digested' so thoroughly that they became Brazilian, and were reborn in a new and different form in the newly nourished 'flesh' of Brazilian literature.

I am fascinated to find that a similar sort of thing was happening in Spanish American literature, and at roughly the same time.

May I therefore thank you for Senor Chacon's article, which has added to my enjoyment of both Tagore and Neruda. If it is possible, would you please also pass on my thanks to Senor Chacon.

Mark Bones

(Published in Parabaas: May 7, 2009)

[ Article: The Forgotten Stone: On Rabindranath Tagore and Latin America by Alfonso Chacon R.]

I have just read the article by Alfonso Chacon R. on your website ( http://www.parabaas.com/SHEET3/LEKHA16/forgotten.html ).

I have been working on a translation of Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Desperation, and was intrigued by the references to Tagore in that work. I very much agree with what Senor Chacon says about Tagore's work having arrived at just the right moment to have a big influence in South America.

I am more used to Brazilian (Portuguese) poetry than the Spanish American variety. In Brazil there was a cultural movement called Antopofagia (or Cannibalism) in the 1920s, by means of which Brazilian writers wished to assert themselves as distinctively Brazilian. They saw themselves as 'dining on' influences from abroad, and chiefly from Europe, but only absorbing the ones that suited them. Thus European writers have long had a very big influence in Brazil, but in a way that does not necessarily bear any resemblance to the importance those same European writers enjoyed back home in their own countries. Obscure writers and thinkers sometimes became important in Brazil, but were largely forgotten in their own countries. On the other hand, many influential European writers were completely ignored in Brazil. In other words, some European writers were 'digested' so thoroughly that they became Brazilian, and were reborn in a new and different form in the newly nourished 'flesh' of Brazilian literature.

I am fascinated to find that a similar sort of thing was happening in Spanish American literature, and at roughly the same time.

May I therefore thank you for Senor Chacon's article, which has added to my enjoyment of both Tagore and Neruda. If it is possible, would you please also pass on my thanks to Senor Chacon.

Mark Bones

(Published in Parabaas: May 7, 2009)

As the editor mentioned correctly, my first reaction to this edition was "Tagore, again!". But after reading the article by Prof. Sol Arguello Scriba, I was really excited. How people of distant countries with different languages are still drawing inspiration from Rabindranath!

Shivaji Banerjee (v2banerj@us.ibm.com)

Your webpage on Rabindranath Tagore provides some excellent articles on Tagore, the "Myriad -Minded Man". The articles provide impressive analyses of his vast literary output, peppered with some wonderful critical perceptions. A must read for any student researching on Tagore!


My first ever experience in visiting a site which is so close to my heart,with so much information on subjects which are a must read for any Indian or a Bengali wherever he may reside in this shrinking global village ! Looking forward most eagerly to further informative articles on Tagore and other stalwarts of undivided Bengal. Being an ex-student of Patha Bhavan, Santiniketan, I feel at home with the link to Visva Bharati.

Chandrodoy Ghosh (bapida4@hotmail.com)

Benagli letter in gif format

letter writer (basabchaudhuri@aol.com)

It is a wonderful issue on Tagore, reflecting lot of aspects of his life. It's good to see discussions of paintings and a film as vehicles of understanding Tagore's interesting psyche; it's great to read articles by Drs Alokeranjan Dasgupta, Clinton Booth Seely, Ketaki Kushari Dyson, Brian Hatcher and many others. Recently I'm reading the Kenyon Review of Ohio University, an issue that contains articles on all the nobel prize winners of literature. In this issue an article of Dr Saranindranath Tagore and Wendy Barker introduces meetings between Einstein and Rabindranath, and analyzes their interviews. The analysis of these interviews is new.

Alamgeer Haque Schopon (alamgeer@onetel.net.uk)

[ Article: 'On the Trail of Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo' by Ketaki Kushari Dyson]

In this essay the noted scholar and author, Ketaki Kushari Dyson, summarized her commendable work on the subject. However, I'd like to respond to her comments directed to an old article of mine she refers to. She complains that I did not refer to her work. However, I wrote this article in Bengali (based on a talk I was invited to deliver) in 1985, before her work was available. It was subsequently translated into English by Monish Chatterjee and posted in the internet. My source material was mostly collected from Ocampor Rabindranath by Sankhya Ghosh [3rd Edition] and an account of a detailed conversation between Ocampo and Krishna Kripalani.

Let me address some of the points Ms Dyson lists at the end of her essay:

1. In Argentina Victoria Ocampo is mainly known as the Editor of 'Sur'. Her status as a great Spanish writer, implied by Ms. Dyson, is questionable. She is not mentioned in relevant review articles, e.g. in the Encyclopedia Britanica.

2. I stated that thirty poems, and not all of them, of Purabi were composed in Argentina. Clearly, the majority of Purabi poems (e.g. Shillong'er chithi written from Shillong in the summer of 1923) were not written in Argentina.

3. I did not state that Tagore stayed in Ocampo's own estancia. In fact, I quoted from Ocampo's own recollections of how Miralrio was rented by her for the use of Tagore and Elmhirst.

4. My original article uses the standard Bengali spelling of Victoria.

5. My statement on the reasons why Ocampo turned to the world of writing was quoted from Sankha Ghosh's book, cited above (p. 109). It is supported by Ocampo's own statement quoted in D. Meyer's biography of Ocampo (p. 45).

6. I used a standard Bengali phrase (bibaaha bichchhed) which is used to denote either legal separation or divorce. In conservative Catholic countries such as Argentina of the early 20th Century, there was virtually no distinction between the two.

7. Rabindranath did express strong desire to return to Argentina. For example, when the P.E.N. Congress of 1936, held in Buenos Aires, of which Ocampo was a co-chairperson, invited Kalidas Nag and S. Wadia from India but not Tagore, he complained to Ocampo in October, 1936 ..'I felt a real grievance against your people for not asking me to come. I assure you I would have responded at once if they had done it'. Ocampo responded: 'I have just received your letter and am so very sorry we did not think you would be willing to come to the P.E.N. Congress this September'.

Ms. Dyson comments that translation from Spanish originals into Bengali is absent. In fact, several such works exist. For example, Palash Baran Pal's Jekhaane Brishtir Janmo, published in 1988, is a selection of Pablo Neruda's poems beautifully translated directly from the originals. Finally, Ms. Dyson's essay suffers from excessive usage of the first person singular.

Rajat Chanda (rchanda@att.com)

BRAVO! An execellent research on the Tagore-Ocampo meetings, events and whatever these led to. PRAISE TO KETAKI. However, in view of the embedded "I", "I" and "I" in this essay, I cannot help but remind the author and all others the Ballya Shikhkha kind of phrase: Nije jare baro bole baro shei nay/Loke jare baro bole baro shei hay. Note: It is bemusing to bring up Tagore in breaking down barriers between prose and poetry in Latin/Spanish literature a la Alfonso Chacon. The barrier was broken (this is a major event in the history of poetry) by none other than Whitman, Baudelaire, (and later Rimbaud). Didn't Lorca, Neruda, Huidobro, Borges etc. know this?

Talukdar, Shamsuzzoha

The author responds:

I would like to thank the editor of Parabaas for allowing me to respond to the feedback received on my article 'On the Trail of Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo'

First of all, I would like to thank the editor of Parabaas for allowing me to respond to some of the feedback received on my article 'On the Trail of Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo'. I am very grateful to have this opportunity.

Dr Rajat Chanda explains that his article on the Internet, to which I have referred, does not contain any reference to my work because his original Bengali article was written in 1985, before my own work became available. But no matter when his article was first written, when I read the English version this year on the Internet, and downloaded it, it was clearly marked as 'Copyright © Rajat Chanda 1991'. The file is still there in my machine, and the date is an unambiguous 1991. Now, my first book was published in 1985 and my second book in 1988; so with due respect, I would suggest that by 1991 Dr Chanda could have amended the English version; and by 2001 there is really no excuse for not having done the necessary updating.

Let me address some of the more specific points. Why does Dr Chanda assume that all the points listed at the foot of my article refer to his article? It should be quite clear from what I say within my article that the list at the end summarizes issues collected from two articles. Dr. Chanda need not worry about all the points, because some of them arise not from his article, but from Alfonso Chacon's article.

Dr. Chanda says: 'In Argentina Victoria Ocampo is mainly known as the Editor of 'Sur'. Her status as a great Spanish writer, implied by Ms. Dyson, is questionable. She is not mentioned in relevant review articles, e.g. in Encyclopedia Britannica.'

Now this is what I said: 'Victoria Ocampo cannot really be called a poetess. That is a misconception. Her prose is very poetic, but she is essentially an essayist and a great writer of memoirs. She is also a superb letter-writer.'

It ought to be evident that I have picked my words quite carefully. I did not say she was 'a great Spanish writer'. I wouldn't use such grand words, because a) I am not a specialist in Spanish literature, b) Victoria is a Latin American, c) she is only recently dead and it will be a long time before her achievements receive a proper assessment both at home and abroad. But as I have clarified in my article, I have been to Argentina; I have talked to many people there, and in Britain and France, who know and value her work; I have myself read a substantial amount of her work; I have also read a substantial amount of other people's views on her; and on the basis of the ground I have myself covered I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that she is a significant Argentine author in her own right, and the scholars I have talked to or consulted also hold this opinion. That Victoria was a poet is a common misconception - I have come across it in others, so wanted to correct it (on what basis had Dr Chanda called her 'an accomplished poetess'?) - but that she wrote wonderfully poetic prose cannot be denied. The volumes of her essays entitled Testimonios would be a credit to any author anywhere. If she had written nothing except the 6-volume Autobiografia, she would still count as a major woman writer of her country. She is a voluminous letter-writer in a fluent style. And then there are her other books, some of which I have read, and each one has impressed me by virtue of its literary quality. I know that in the past it has been fashionable in leftist circles to run her down and underestimate her achievements, but leftist attitudes were changing even when I was working on her in the eighties, and the scholars I have talked to hold her in high esteem. She was indeed made a member of the Argentine Academy of Letters in 1977. When a person is the editor of a notable magazine, it often happens that his or her own literary reputation gets submerged under the reputation of the magazine and its contributors. This has happened to our own Buddhadeva Bose. While people pay tribute to him as the editor of Kabita, and talk about the other poets made well-known by being published there, they often forget that Bose himself was a major poet. In a similar way, Victoria Ocampo's own reputation as a writer can get submerged under that of the Sur circle of writers. And as for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I would not judge Argentine writers by its omissions, any more than I would judge Bengali writers by the same criteria.

As for the Italian spelling of Victoria's name which appears in his article, surely, Dr Chanda should have made sure that the lady's name was spelt correctly in the English version of his article.

On Victoria and her loneliness: what Shankha Ghosh says on p. 109 of his book is that Victoria turned to the world of writers and writing to be released from the emptiness of her personal life ('byaktijibaner shunyata theke mukti pabar jonyo'), which is a little different from freeing oneself 'from the oppression of loneliness'. Shankha has chosen his words carefully. And what Doris Meyer says on p. 45 of her book must also be seen in a fuller context. After her marital breakdown, there was inevitably some loneliness in Victoria's life, but it was of a special kind. Victoria was not socially lonely: she always led a full social life as befitted her aristocratic class. Nobody ostracized her. And she had a few close friends. Who ever has more? She was not emotionally lonely either: for hadn't she found a lover within months of her wedding? By her own admission, with Julian Martinez she was in the plenitude of her love life. We must remember that when Meyer wrote her book, Victoria was still alive, her Autobiografia had not been published yet, and the affair with Martinez was not in the domain of public discourse. So the full contextuality of certain aspects of Victoria's life does not come through in that biography. Clearly, as Meyer indicates, Victoria needed 'an outlet for the turmoil she felt inside her'. 'So,' says Meyer, 'as in her youth, she turned to writing.' This was not the first time that Victoria turned to writing. Victoria had been writing from much younger days. Her letters to her friend Delfina Bunge are important documents. On p. 45 of Meyer's book Victoria herself is quoted as saying, 'At the beginning of my life, I discovered that writing was a kind of unburdening. Later, I found that it was a way of learning and ordering my inner world.' This is a more subtle process than writing just to get rid of her loneliness. The loneliness was of an intellectual order more than anything else. Clearly a bright girl, she had not been allowed to go to university. In the standards of our own times, this would be regarded as a major deprivation. She had a great need to express herself; that is why she had wanted to be an actress. That was not allowed either. Writing as a vehicle for self-expression was one of the very few things women of the more affluent (or at least 'comfortable') classes could turn to - that is how the great English women novelists emerged. Had Victoria's marriage not foundered, had she been a happy wife, would she not have turned to writing? I think she still would have. She had it in her to be a writer. She would not have spent her whole life giving parties. Victoria's sister Silvina was happily married, but she still became a writer. Incidentally, Doris Meyer, whom Dr Chanda quotes in this context, certainly regards Victoria as an important Argentine writer, as is amply evident from her biography of Victoria, and I respect that opinion.

The distinction between legal separation and divorce is surely vital in Victoria's life; she could not marry Martinez because divorce from Monaco Estrada was not available to her.

As the editor of the Tagore-Ocampo correspondence, I am fully aware of the letter Tagore wrote to Ocampo on 19 October 1936, saying that had he been invited to the P.E.N. Congress at Buenos Aires, he would have responded at once. But this one example does not alter the picture. Tagore did express a nostalgia for his days in San Isidro, but I repeat, to claim that he 'expressed the desire to return to Buenos Aires several times' distorts the picture. Retrospectively, he wished he had not run away so soon; he wished that he had stayed longer. But he also realized that an idyllic experience could not necessarily be repeated. We have to choose our words more carefully. All the available letters were published by me in the English book, so readers can peruse them and see for themselves his fluctuating moods and plans.

With due respect, I did not make a categorical statement to the effect that 'translation from Spanish originals into Bengali is absent'. Why, I have mentioned Das and Gangopadhyay's translations of Juan Ramon Jimenez, have I not? Keeping track of translations from Spanish into Bengali is not my area of expertise, and after completing my Ocampo research I turned my attention to altogether different projects. The editor of Parabaas had asked if I would care to include a few extra comments on the influence of Spanish-language literature on Bengali, and accordingly a few comments were offered, based on my limited knowledge and the books available to me here in my home in England. I thank Dr Chanda for mentioning Palash Baran Pal's translations of Neruda; Palash Baran's name immediately rang a bell in my ears - because he has written in the magazine Jijnasa. Just now, looking at the back issues in my home, I have located an issue containing his translations of Basho's Haiku poetry, and there in the introductory section I notice that he mentions his translations of Neruda. I haven't seen the book in question, but I am delighted to know that he has translated Neruda directly from the Spanish. Such enterprising spirits are to be welcomed.

Finally, I would like to respond to Dr Chanda's last objection to my article. He says, with devastating scorn, 'Finally, Ms. Dyson's essay suffers from excessive usage of the first person singular.'

This stylistic defect of mine has also captured the attention of Shamsuzzoha Talukdar, who, irritated by the ''I'', ''I'', ''I'' in my language, ventures to remind me of the adage: 'Nije jare baro bole baro shei noy,/ Loke jare baro bole baro shei hoy' - as if somewhere in my article I had claimed that I was great ('baro')! For goodness's sake, where have I claimed it?

If Dr Chanda was disappointed to find that Palash Baran Pal's name was missing from my article, in a paragraph which was only a small follow-on from the main article, imagine how disappointed I was to find, in the year 2001, two articles on the Internet relating directly to Rabindranath Tagore and Latin America but betraying a complete unfamiliarity with the latest researches in the Tagore-Ocampo area. It so happens that these researches are mine, given in full in two books first published in 1985 and 1988 and still available in the market. To say that I am the person who has done the most thorough investigations in this subject-area does not indicate my arrogance; again, with due respect, it states a fact. And as I am a human being, I felt a pang of disappointment that my work had not been acknowledged.

Alfonso Chacon is a young Latin American scholar working on his doctorate - exactly the same age as my elder son, as I found out. I felt a compassionate concern for him, and thought that he needed to be alerted to what material was available for him in English. I was intrigued that Rajat Chanda, although a Bengali, was not aware of my work even in 1991, the date accompanying the article. Furthermore, he clearly hadn't felt the need to update his article even in 2001. When I mentioned my reactions to the editor of Parabaas, he at once invited me to prepare an article on the subject for the webzine's planned Tagore issue. Any article would necessarily be on the basis of work that I had already done and published. This is the history of the genesis of the article in question.

Just think for a minute: the use of the first person singular in a cluster in someone's narrative - does that automatically mean that that person is thinking of himself or herself as great or exalted? If a poor refugee fleeing dire persecution from his country is asked to give an account of his flight, won't he have to make frequent use of the first person singular? If a sailor stranded on a deserted island is rescued and is then interviewed by a journalist, won't he have to say 'I did this, I did that to survive'? None of this means that the person thinks of himself as 'great'. Any human being who is required to give a first-person narrative of an activity in which he/she has been deeply involved has no option but to use the first person singular. Wherever you notice a cluster of 'I's in my article, that is precisely what is happening. I have explicitly stated at the outset what I am doing in the article. Where I am tracing my involvement in the research step by step, I have no option but to use the first person singular in a serial fashion. I cannot very well write 'it went to Argentina', when I mean 'I went to Argentina'.

How do I refer to an action of mine, without referring to my 'I'? I was not writing an archaic letter to a court official, so writing 'Your Humble Servant' was out of the question. Shakespeare's kings use the first person plural to refer to themselves: the 'royal plural' is a prerogative I could not claim. In Bengali or Spanish or Italian one can sometimes omit the subject; the verb-ending will indicate which person it is. That's not the style in the English language, where a sentence normally needs a subject as well as a verb. Where the subject of the verb is 'I', I cannot drop it on the floor in embarrassment or hide it inside a handbag as though it were an offensive object. Nor was I sending a telegram; I was writing an essay. Using Latin, Julius Caesar said, 'Veni, vidi, vici'; in Bengali he could have got away with 'Elaam, dekhlaam, joy korlaam'; but in English he would have to say, 'I came, I saw, I conquered', using three 'I's in a row.

Well, some may have mastered a more indirect style, in which they hide their real selves in special grammatical hats or metaphorical masks, and the post-modern critics of our times have certainly perfected the art of saying 1001 words in a row without saying anything, but I know no such conjuring tricks. I humbly stick to the style I acquired in my younger days - of writing simply, plainly, directly - and none of my teachers in either Calcutta or Oxford told me that the first person singular had to be avoided. On the contrary, I was always encouraged to speak from my personal centre with confidence. 'Don't quote critics unnecessarily,' I was taught, 'say what you think, what you feel, give your own opinions, your personal responses without fear.' Disciplined thus, I have never developed a sense of taboo about my 'I'. And it is because of this training that I do not need to consult the Encyclopaedia Britannica to make up my mind about Victoria Ocampo's stature as a writer. If I can read her books, then I can make up my own mind about her.

Most interestingly, some people in Argentina find the personal aspect of Victoria Ocampo's own style irritating, and I have heard the accusation that there is 'yo-ismo' in her style, exactly what I am being accused of! Well! there can be a match between the kind of writing that attracts us and the kind of style we ourselves write. In literary writing I have a strong preference myself for the kind of style that emanates from an author's personal centre, where the world comes to me sieved through that person's sensibility and experience. For this reason Rabindranath's style in a book like Chhinnapatrabali and Victoria Ocampo's own prose style attract me very much. I feel a deep affinity with it. To use one of her own phrases, reading her has helped me to order my inner world too. I have learnt from her. Like her, I feel comfortable when giving a first-hand account of something, when writing a first-person commentary on a book I have read. Perhaps in the scientific and technical fields some have been taught to avoid the active voice and use the passive voice instead (not 'I observed the light', but 'the light was observed'), but even this is a practice deriving from a view of science as an impersonal pursuit that is already archaic and illusory.

This allergy to a personal style that one sometimes encounters is a deeply interesting psychological-cultural phenomenon. It would require many pages (and more training in psychology than I possess) to explore it properly. In both Ocampo's case and in mine the criticism is coming from members of our own ethnic/linguistic group. Is it possible that some find an apparent 'display of self' in a female of the same culture offensive? It is an interesting question to me, as I have lived so many of the adult years of my life in England, and although I have faced different kinds of discrimination here, nobody here has said that the use of the first person singular was a defect of my style.

All around us we can see people aggrandizing themselves, selfishly grabbing opportunities for themselves while trampling on the opportunities of others. I have never found that kind of activity attractive. I work freelance and do not owe any allegiance to an institutional hierarchy. In my article I wasn't trying to rob anybody's purse or grab anybody's chair (upholstered or metaphorical) to sit upon. I was not claiming that I was a superior human being. But just by trying to give an honest account of my research work, describing how I developed an interest in the subject, how I became involved in it, I have provoked an allergy in at least two people. So yes, I don't find these remarks 'funny' at all; I find them unfair and unkind, hurtful, snide, and patronizing.

Perhaps if one learns to love and cherish one's inner self, the child that dwells within our inmost core, one is less irritated by its expression in another. If we cannot trust it in ourselves, we cannot trust it in others. If we fear or loathe it in us, we cannot respect it in others. Artists have to take delight in their own selves to remain creative, to keep developing. This innocence is vital for our well-being. Self-loathing is destructive. Who knew it better than Rabindranath Tagore?

There is no content without an extended context in which it is embedded, and there is a profound illusion in thinking that your you-ness and my me-ness are totally unrelated entities. Every encounter between my 'I' and your 'You' is a process; we are for ever in an inner-outer continuum. I am not 'an arrogant woman out there'; there is not such a great distance between your first person and mine as you imagine. I wrote what I wrote, because of what I found others had written, because of the hiatuses I found in their accounts. I have given you the story.

Finally, I would register my disagreement with the facile sentiment that 'loke jare baro bole baro shei hoy'. This is a tawdry maxim. Loke to anek kichhu-i bole, anek-ke mathay tole jara mathay tolar jogyo noy. People elevate many to grandeur, who do not deserve it - look at the popular support so many ruthless dictators manage to command. I would prefer to ground my attitude towards greatness on a better foundation than 'loke jare bole'.

Ketaki Kushari Dyson

[Article:'Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Costa Rica' by Sol Argüello Scriba]

I came across this article amidst an extremely hectic schedule involving my profession, which is research in theoretical physics. But I couldn't help but to write a few words in response to this rare originality in feeling, on the part of the author. Abiding with the time constraint that I am in right now, I would make this letter a short one, albeit would highly appreciate if anyone is interested in a broader and deeper discussion in the future. Dear author, I am a Bengali -- Tagore's sect. And probably it is quite needless to mention that I perspire of Tagore, or at least try to do so. You were absolutely right in apprehending the immense impact that Tagore still has (and I dare say, will ever have) in the psychical setup for every Indians, and especially that of the Bengalis. What we always tell in our mother tongue is that there is absoultely no particular feeling, no emotion that Rabindranath has not gone through in his gamut of experience and has not put the bowl in front of us, for us to taste and admire. But what really makes me shiver and obviuosly delighted is to think and imagine the effect of his intellectual fragrance which might rake the young and budding minds in the streets of Costa Rica. Your article was a revelation, a real doorway towards the appreciation of Rabindranath's art in the so-distant lands of South America. I convey you my utmost regards for your effort in popularising our poet, or rather the poet of the world. Possibly one great reason for which you can feel his pulse is the common universal bondage of passion which links mankind, and binds together an entity so far, with the blistering red soils of Bolpur. As I wrote at the very beginning, I am in dirth of time right now, so let me conclude with two particular inquiries from you. Have you ever heard the songs of Rabindranath and have seen his paintings? If you haven't, please take care to do so. If there is one single thing which will immortalise him, then those are his songs, most of whom were actually tuned by the poet himself. As for his paintings, I and many do sincerely believe that he is the best painter of modern India.

Dr. Amit Kumar Chattopadhyay (akc@mpipks-dresden.mpg.de)

Many, many thanks for the Tagore links. The Spring 2001 issue of The Kenyon Review [The Stand, in UK], is a double-issue to celebrate the works of Nobel Prize winners. The first selections are of Tagore's poetry from the last years of his life and of the few conversations and correspondence he exchanged with Albert Einstein. (I noted with interest that the West continually portrayed Tagore as the inscrutable mystic Einstein as the brilliant, scientific one. It took considerable effort on the part of the editors, Wendy Barker and Saranindranath Tagore, to get at a more accurate and complete portrayal of both men.) The entire text of this issue of the Kenyon Review is available free for download, or for $13 from the publishers. Go to www.kenyonreview.org. By the way, this issue also includes "54 University Avenue, Yangon" by Amitav Ghosh.

Laura Leigh Monterey

[Article: 'A People's Poet or a Literary Deity ?' by Indrani Chakrabarti]

This article provides a one-sided and parochial view of a general Bengali's awareness of the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore. From my personal experience and interaction with quite a lot of Bengalis, I can tell that the picture presented in this article is utterly skewed. A very few examples will substantiate the point. During one of my very recent visits to Calcutta, India, I found people calling in on the Bengali FM channel and requesting very "uncommon" Rabindrasangeets to be played. Listening to the to the requested songs featured in the "anurodher ashore" on Rabindrasangeet makes this trend clearer. I found people requesting to hear songs like "Ghaatey boshey aachhi aanmona" or "Boshey aachhi hey kaubey shunibo tomar bani". I can give numerous such examples. The statistics from music companies like saregama (HMV) and others also substantiate this point. I believe this article is completely skewed and reflects the opinions and beliefs of a very small section of Bengalis. The author should be careful about the sample sizes and the representativeness of her samples before drawing some powerful conclusions.

Subhasish Mitra (smitra@crc.stanford.edu)

The author responds:

I must thank Mr.Mitra for reading my article with such careful attention. However, while I admit he is entitled to his own opinion, I still need to clarify my position. In my discourse, I have kept my focus on the large section of the average Bengali (with special reference to today’s youth) and not the erudite or the enthusiastic few. I am quite certain that Mr.Mitra belongs to the latter category and his opinions have been formed by his interactions with the intellectual elites like himself.

In my piece, I have admitted that our generation knows Tagore mostly through his songs (kindly refer to the Sunil Gangopadhyay quote). It is also true that Rabindrasangeet still constitutes the best-selling music in the premier music stores in the city. (Indranil Sen’s album, Mone Rekho has been ruling the charts at Music World for many months now.) But this is still not indicative of the fact that the masses are familiar with a really substantial number of Tagore songs.

In a recent TV interview, popular singer Srikanto Acharya highlighted this aspect of the general awareness of the masses by narrating a personal experience. A lady recently came up to him just to express her disappointment with a particular Rabindrasangeet album. Srikanto, with his characteristic modesty, accepted the criticism and said he was not able to do justice to the songs. The lady corrected him and said nothing was wrong with the execution of the songs, only she wasn’t familiar with most of them. The singer went to cite this as one of the reasons why singers these days think twice before recording songs that fall within the unfamiliar/unexplored domain.

And let us not talk about the handful of the listeners who call up on FM shows. Being a part of the private FM channel which in fact started the trend of live dial-in requests in Calcutta, I am more than familiar with the system of taking in callers and screening them to suit the requirements of the producer of the show. Again, there are some genuine callers (or letter writers as the case may be) with a special area of interest -- but they are too few and far in between.

I gather that Mr.Mitra is not a resident of India and quite naturally he has offered an outsider’s perspective. Being a part of the privileged minority, he has perhaps overlooked the overall awareness of the majority who live in Kolkata and think of Tagore as their intellectual guru.

Jan.1, 2001

Indrani Chakrabarti

Subhasish Mitra responds:

Reading Ms. Chakrabarti's reply to my previous letter I got more confused. I'd request Ms. Chakrabarti to clearly state her conclusion. It seems she used a very strange and stray experience of a singer (whom I'll not call a Rabindrasangeet singer by any means) to drive home the point that the current generation isn't paying enough attention to Tagore songs and they are "unfamiliar" with most of Tagore's works. Whose failure is it that the current generation is finding Tagores songs "unfamiliar" to them? I'd conjecture it's the failure of the current singers. Even after Tagore's death in 1941, most Rabindrasangeets were unfamiliar to the general mass before we had stalwarts like Pankaj Mullick, Suchitra Mitra, George Biswas, Hemanta Mukherjee and Kanika Banerjee who "popularised" Rabindrasangeet among masses. During the 1940-1970 time frame most of the songs they sang were "unheard" before. The general audience was "unfamiliar" with these Tagore's compositions. Today we almost take it for granted that people were "familiar" with these "familiar" songs since the time they were composed. These "unheard" songs became familiar to the general audience through the charismatic presentations by these stalwarts. It's a pity that we don't have that many stalwarts among the young generation of singers. That's partly due to the fact that these so-called young generation of singers are totally confused and they don't trust themselves and their capabilities. Finally, I don't see what purpose does a survey (like the one presented by Ms. Chakrabarti) serve. It's interesting that I was reading an article written by Suchitra Mitra a couple of days back. The singer mentions very consciously that it was never the objective of either Rabindranath or his disciples to make Rabindrasangeet as popular as discos.

April 23, 2002

Subhasish Mitra (smitra@crc.stanford.edu)

I read the article "Emperor of Life" by Budhdhadeva Bose (Translated by Nandini Gupta) and "Aamar Shilpee Jiboner Kichchu Khatha" by Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya from the special Rabindranath Issue of Parabaas. These were great. While reading I felt I was there in the Santiniketon with them, could picture how the great poet lived.

Nahid Rianon

[Article: 'My Tagore' by Alokeranjan Dasgupta]

The space is small and I am bereft of time, so I won't try to expound anything in gory details. But my immediate reaction after reading this article is one of confusion in one respect and certainty on the other. Let me explain. The "certainty" part concerns my unmitigated applause of Alokranjan's intellect as a diligent reader of literature which, however, in a way, impregnates his simultaneous confounded existence as a human soul. He seems to have pretty little to say apart from what one of his more earlier and much illustrious predecessor, Nirad Chaudhury had done quite a while back in analysing Tagore. I presume that he won't be greatly amused with this comparison but my point lies in the laconic weaving of images which both of them have spun while interpreting Tagore, something which has got very little to do with Tagore in its originality, but rather is a sounding board of their own gargantuan egos. Obviously, I know that he takes great pride in declaring himself a singularity compared to common Bengali ethos but I have great doubts how sporting he himself will be when confronted with the glaring truth that in this respect at least, he is more "Bengali" than the average Bengali in general.

An unsuccesful poet himself, Alokranjan has the great distinction as a scholar in the game, evidences of which he has amply scattered all throughout the article. But he seems to have lost himself in the labyrinth of intellectual pursuit and while at one time tries to identify himself as a radical communist (well someone of those theoretical ones, I suppose) while on the other, attempts to identify some sort of a Freudian analysis, in his theological process. Then again he himself embarks on identifying his emotions with the rather "tranquil" structures of the Brechtian philosophy. I am really confused.

However, there is certainly a grain of truth when he speaks about some of the earlier luminaries in the Bengal literary scene, immediately after Tagore. But then again his own quest for identity appears to be laid out in the same desolate path, something which, if I am not mistaken, he is rather pained to admit. He actually reminds me of the first line in "1946" by Jibananda. I take real pity in his plight -- a great erudite in his own right but plaugued, probably irretrievably by an identity crisis of our "uncertain" age. Anyway, I am sorry for having to terminate here and certainly understand that my criticisms should ideally have been weaved in a more detailed logical structure.

Amit K Chattopadhyay (akc@mpipks-dresden.mpg.de)

[Article: 'jhNakidarshan' by Chirantan Kundu]

Fantastic writing! ingeniously written at the same time very sweet and heartening. reminds me of sukumar ray's kalachnader chobi and chalachitto chanchari a bit too.

Indira Chakravorty (amind@earthlink.net)

[Article: 'jhNakidarshan' by Chirantan Kundu]

Good jokes to hear towards tody's point of view. We have arranged a quiz on his birthday celebration. We have asked for date of birth and date of death to our audience. But sorry to quote nobody can answer out 50 people in the group of ten. Since they were not aware of the latest development regarding Tagore.

Dibyendu Sekhar Bhowmik

[Article: 'jhNakidarshan' by Chirantan Kundu]

Bengali Letter in GIF format P>

Letter Writer (mnag62@yahoo.com)

[Article: 'jhNakidarshan' by Chirantan Kundu]

Bengali Mail in GIF format

Letter Writer (swagat0@yahoo.com)

[Article: 'jhNakidarshan' by Chirantan Kundu]

Bengali Letter in GIF Format

Letter Writer (c_dutta@hotmail.com)

[Article: 'Amar Shilpijiban Shamparke du-ekTi katha' by Rezwana Banya Chaudhuri]

Bengali letter in gif format

Letter Writer (KALfromFL@aol.com)

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(Published in Parabaas: September 30, 2003)

[ Article: Rabindranath Tagore in Germany by Martin Kämpchen]

I really enjoyed Kämpchen's article and learnt a lot from it. I just had one comment to make. He talks about how Tagore is relevant to German/European audiences now by mentioning Tagore's reverence for nature: " Ecology - Rabindranath Tagore’s love of nature was inspired by the awareness that all living beings, including animals, trees and plants, are endowed with a soul. On this level of consciousness, human beings are equal with “low” creatures and plants. We are all co-creatures of God’s creation. Accordingly, Tagore’s praise and worship of nature is born of a deep spirit of togetherness and feeling of a creational bond between humans and nature. Such a sense of unity is missing in modern Western ecology. It tends to emphasise the usefulness of nature and the necessity of a natural environment for the practical survival of mankind. Thus, with his poetry and his essays, Tagore can inspire a deeper understanding of and togetherness with the natural environment."

I would disagree with the author about the missing sense of deep spiritual bond with nature in modern western ecology. He is probably unfamiliar with the school of environmental pessimists, such as the Club of Rome, Carson, Meadows, Ehrlich and Myers, among many others (such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth). These scholars view nature/ecology as being under tremendous stress from human populations and consumption levels. They espouse the non-use value of nature and favour the precautionary principle. This is based upon their deeply held reverence for nature and its inherent fragility, which, in a way, is echoed in Tagore's perception/portrayal of nature in his books.

Shahpar Selim (S.Selim@LSE.AC.UK)

(Published in Parabaas: September 30, 2003)

[ Article: Home and Abroad by Martin Kämpchen]

Emotions ooze out after reading a foreigner's in-depth description of life's philosophy of two cultures which are poles apart in anomalies and abstractions. It's a fine piece of lecture and I have been very impressed with it.

Ashoke Sen (ashoke@btinternet.com)

(Published in Parabaas: January 30, 2004)

[ Article: Grateful by Nandini Gupta]

What can I say? Nandini's translation of Tagore's 'Grateful' has produced a flow of senses which matches so very closely to that of Tagore's original poetry. My salutations to her.

Ashoke Sen (ashoke@btinternet.com)

(Published in Parabaas: January 30, 2004)

[ Article: Tagore's Poetic Greatness by William Radice]

Glory of Tagore's greatness and the profound depth of his poems are aptly expressed by William Radice in a language alien to ours yet it extols in an equal measure his own quality and brilliance for the perception of a wider world.

Ashoke Sen (ashoke@btinternet.com)

(Published in Parabaas: December 15, 2004)

[ Article: Tagore in the Netherlands by Liesbeth Meyer]

I looked over Ms Meyer's contributions with great interest, espcially the long letter to Dr Eeveden about war machines. I am puzzled that it was written in 1919, after WWI had finished. Although written in Nov., was Tagore referring to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (which happened in April of 1919), or more generally to the colonial repression of independence movements in general?

Joanna Kirkpatrick (ricksha1@spro.net )

(Published in Parabaas: December 15, 2004)

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