Authors: Rabindranath Tagore

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Indian poet, playwright, novelist, and short-story writer

Author Works

Poetry:

Saisab sangit, 1881

Sandhya sangit, 1882

Prabhat sangit, 1883

Chabi o gan, 1884

Kari o komal, 1887

Mānashi, 1890

Sonār tari, 1893 (The Golden Boat, 1932)

Chitra, 1895

Chaitāli, 1896

Kanika, 1899

Kalpana, 1900

Katha o kahini, 1900

Kshanikā, 1900

Naivedya, 1901

Sisu, 1903 (The Crescent Moon, 1913)

Smaran, 1903

Utsarga, 1904

Kheya, 1905

Gitānjali, 1910 (Gitanjali: Song Offerings, 1912)

The Gardener, 1913

Gitali, 1914

Balāka, 1916 (A Flight of Swans, 1955, 1962)

Fruit-Gathering, 1916

Gan, 1916

Stray Birds, 1917

Love’s Gift, and Crossing, 1918

Palataka, 1918 (The Fugitive, 1921)

Lipika, 1922

Poems, 1922

Sisu bholanath, 1922

The Curse at Farewell, 1924

Prabahini, 1925

Purabi, 1925

Fifteen Poems, 1928

Fireflies, 1928

Mahuya, 1929

Sheaves: Poems and Songs, 1929

Banabani, 1931

The Child, 1931

Parisesh, 1932

Punascha, 1932

Vicitrita, 1933

Bithika, 1935

Ses saptak, 1935

Patraput, 1936, 1938 (English translation, 1969)

Syamali, 1936 (English translation, 1955)

Khapchada, 1937

Prantik, 1941

Janmadine, 1941

Poems, 1942

Sesh lekha, 1942

The Herald of Spring, 1957

Wings of Death: The Last Poems, 1960

Devouring Love, 1961

A Bunch of Poems, 1966

One Hundred and One, 1967

Last Poems, 1973

Later Poems, 1974

Long Fiction:

Bau-Thakuranir Hat, 1883

Rajarshi, 1887

Chokher bāli, 1902 (Binodini, 1959)

Naukadubi, 1906 (The Wreck, 1921)

Gora, 1910 (English translation, 1924)

Chaturanga, 1916 (English translation, 1963)

Ghare bāire, 1916 (Home and the World, 1919)

Jogajog, 1929

Shesher kabita, 1929 (Farewell, My Friend, 1946)

Dui bon, 1933 (Two Sisters, 1945)

Short Fiction:

The Hungry Stones, and Other Stories, 1916

Mashi, and Other Stories, 1918

Stories from Tagore, 1918

Broken Ties, and Other Stories, 1925

The Runaway, and Other Stories, 1959

Drama:

Prakritir Pratishodh, pb. 1884 (verse play; Sanyasi: Or, The Ascetic, 1917)

Rājā o Rāni, pb. 1889 (verse play; The King and the Queen, 1918)

Chitrāngadā, pb. 1892 (verse play; Chitra, 1913)

Prayaschitta, pr. 1909 (based on his novel Bau-Thakuranir Hat)

Rājā, pb. 1910 (The King of the Dark Chamber, 1914)

Dākghar, pb. 1912 (The Post Office, 1914)

Phālguni, pb. 1916 (The Cycle of Spring, 1917)

Arupratan, pb. 1920 (revision of his play Rājā)

Muktadhārā, pb. 1922 (English translation, 1950)

Raktakarabi, pb. 1924 (Red Oleanders, 1925)

Chirakumār Sabhā, pb. 1926

Natir Pujā, pb. 1926 (Worship of the Dancing Girl, 1950)

Paritrān, pb. 1929 (revision of Prayaschitta)

Tapati, pb. 1929 (revision of Rājā o Rāni)

Chandālikā, pr., pb. 1933 (English translation, 1938)

Bānsari, pb. 1933

Nrityanatya Chitrāngadā, pb. 1936 (revision of his play Chitrāngadā)

Nritya-natya Chandālikā, pb. 1938 (revision of his play Chandālikā)

Three Plays, pb. 1950

Nonfiction:

Jivansmriti, 1912 (My Reminiscences, 1917)

Sadhana, 1913

Personality, 1917

Nationalism, 1919

Greater India, 1921

Glimpses of Bengal, 1921

Creative Unity, 1922

Talks in China, 1925

Lectures and Addresses, 1928

Letters to a Friend, 1928

The Religion of Man, 1931

Mahatmaji and the Depressed Humanity, 1932

Man, 1937

Chhelebela, 1940 (My Boyhood Days, 1940)

Sabhyatar Samkat, 1941 (Crisis in Civilization, 1941)

Towards Universal Man, 1961

Miscellaneous:

Collected Poems and Plays, 1936

A Tagore Reader, 1961

Biography

Rabindranath Tagore (tah-GOR), who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, is considered the founder and shaper of modern Bengali-language literature. He was the fourteenth of fifteen children born to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. His mother, Sarada, died when he was thirteen years old. His name Rabin means Lord of the Sun. Tagore’s ancestors came from what is now Bangladesh to live in Calcutta, located in the eastern region of India known as Bengal. His immediate family was wealthy by Indian standards of the time; his grandfather, Dwarkanath Tagore, was referred to as a prince.{$I[A]Tagore, Rabindranath}{$I[geo]INDIA;Tagore, Rabindranath}{$I[tim]1861;Tagore, Rabindranath}

Tagore was a precocious child who was educated primarily at home by tutors. He wrote his first poem at the age of eight. The household of his family in Calcutta was like a small city, populated by immediate family, in-laws, servants of all sorts, and tutors. The family also owned vast agricultural estates in eastern Bengal, and they would prove to be a big influence on both the topics and the themes of much of his work. Tagore married Mrinalini Devi when she was eleven years old and he was twenty-two.

He first traveled to the family’s rural estates, an area called Santiniketan, and North India, including the Himalayas, with his father in 1873. This trip was shortly after the investiture of the sacred thread, a Hindu religious rite-of-passage ceremony. This trip and his numerous returns to the area are much in evidence in his writings, particularly in his short stories, sensitive tales of the simple village life he observed, which was so different from the frenetic pace of the Tagore household and life in Calcutta. “The Postmaster” is a classic representation.

Tagore is first and foremost a lyric poet; in his lifetime he published fifty-four collections of Bengali poems, and six more were published posthumously. Gitānjali was the collection primarily responsible for his getting the attention that led to the Nobel Prize. Tagore began writing short stories in the 1890’s and eventually published more than ninety of them. He wrote nearly fifty dramas, though only a fraction of them were translated into English. During the period 1883 to 1934, he published ten Bengali novels, one-third of them translated into English. Tagore’s nonfiction prose, including songs, essays, lectures, sermons, and instructional writings, runs into the thousands of pages, but little of it has been translated. During his lifetime, Tagore translated many of his own works into English. His song “Our Golden Bengal” became the national anthem of Bangladesh. Near the end of his life, he became a prolific painter, producing twenty-five hundred pieces.

In addition to his well-to-do, intense family life and his ability to travel, other influences on Tagore were British colonialism, begun in India in 1690 with the establishment of the East India Company, and his family’s adherence to the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. Because of colonialism, he was exposed early in life to the literature of William Shakespeare, John Milton, and George Gordon, Lord Byron, who became his particular favorites, as well as the philosophy of John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Other literary influences (Tagore read them in their original languages) included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Guy de Maupassant. Tagore attended University College, London for one year. He was knighted by the British in 1915 but resigned his knighthood in 1919, after the Amritsar Massacre, when the British army slaughtered hundreds of innocent Indian men, women, and children.

Vaishnavism emphasizes worship of Vishnu, the Preserver. It puts no restrictions on caste, class, or gender, and central to its tenets is pursuit of the enigmatic, personal relationship between the Creator and humans. A major component of the faith is worshiping through songs. Themes that weave throughout Tagore’s works, regardless of genre, have to do with the remoteness of nature and the human dimension, the world beyond India and attempts to coalesce or synthesize opposites, including Eastern and Western cultures or a search for the universal.

Throughout his life, beginning with his first trip to London in 1879, Tagore traveled widely and frequently. In addition to trips to Europe, he visited the United States several times as well as Japan and China. His travels brought him friendships and contacts with famous contemporary Western writers such as William Butler Yeats and Ezra Pound.

Physically, Tagore resembled the West’s idea of what a poet and holy man from the East should look like. His appearance, in the flowing robes of traditional Bengali dress, with long hair and beard, and what some describe as the romantic quality of his writing, both helped and hurt the initial acceptance of and the legacy of his work.

BibliographyChakraverty, Bishweshwar. Tagore, the Dramatist: A Critical Study. 4 vols. Delhi: B. R. Publishing, 2000. A scholarly study of Tagore’s drama, organized by genre type. Bibliography and index.Chatterjee, Bhabatosh. Rabindranath Tagore and Modern Sensibility. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996. A collection of the author’s original essays about Tagore’s writings, reanalyzed for this book.Dutta, Krishna, and Andrew Robinson. Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996. A complete biography of Tagore, with references to his works.Ivbulis, Viktors. Tagore: East and West Cultural Unity. Calcutta: Rabindra Bharati University, 1999. The author looks at the influence of both the West and the East in Tagore’s work. Bibliography.Kripalani, Krishna. Tagore: A Life. New Delhi: Malancha, 1961. Biography and works are closely interwoven in this text. The drawings and photographs of and by Tagore, his family, and his friends are extremely interesting.Lago, Mary. Rabindranath Tagore. Boston: Twayne, 1976. The book includes an outline biography and an analysis of each of the major genres in which Tagore wrote.Mitra, Indrani. “I Will Make Bimala One with My Country: Gender and Nationalism in Tagore’s The Home and the World.” Modern Fiction Studies 41 (1995): 243-64. Outlines the historical context of Tagore’s novel and analyzes its treatment of political action and women’s oppression.Morash, Chris, ed. Creativity and Its Contexts. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1995. A collection of essays about regionalism and creativity for several writers. Indian novelist Anita Desai wrote the essay on Tagore.Mukherjee, Kedar Nath. Political Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore. New Delhi: S. Chand, 1982. In this volume, Mukherjee presents an analysis of Tagore’s political philosophy–in order to fill what he perceives as a gap in the literature on Tagore–and emphasizes the value of Tagore’s philosophy in contemporary political situations, both in India and the world.Nandi, Sudhirakumara. Art and Aesthetics of Rabindra Nath Tagore. Calcutta, India: Asiatic Society, 1999. Nandi analyzes the Tagore’s aesthetics as expressed in his writings. Bibliography and index.Nandy, Ashis. The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. This study focuses on the political and social views of Tagore as demonstrated by his life and writings. Bibliography and index.Nandy, Ashish. Return from Exile. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. An analysis of Tagore’s political writing which puts him in the context of India’s move in the 1920’s toward nationalism. This, in turn, illuminates some of the philosophy and themes in his other writing.Roy, R. N. Rabindranath Tagore, the Dramatist. Calcutta, India: A. Mukherjee, 1992. A study of Tagore that focuses on his dramatic works.Sen Gupta, Kalyan. The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005. A comprehensive introduction to Tagore’s poetry and essays and the way they relate to his philosophy, politics and religion.
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