New Book On Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore
Joy!   Harvard Press is releasing an 800 page translation-anthology-criticism-biography called The Essential Tagore.  Rabindranath Tagore, one of the most famous Bengalis and the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, burst onto the western scene in the early 20th century.  A poet and author, among various other pursuits, Yeats' introduction to his poetry collection Gitanjali, translated in English, cemented his place in the western imagination.  Yet both Yeats and Tagore realized they were creating a new literary persona for Tagore.  Yeats characterized Tagore as a "holy man living in a timeless world."  Tagore described his process of self-presentation, "In my translations I timidly avoid all difficulties, which has the effect of making them smooth and thin.  I know I am misrepresenting myself as a poet to western readers."  This new book provides not just the opportunity to immerse oneself in a profusion of Tagore's work, but it also offers the opportunity to examine the creation of a literary identity fraught with political and emotional importance at a historical juncture where, once again, India and Britain examined each other and attempted to make sense of what they saw.  If you need convincing, Adam Kirsch in The New Yorker has a lovely review of the book.  Thanks to Jared for sending along his piece.