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Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology Paperback – December 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The entire breadth of [Tagore's] richly hued oeuvre is showcased in all its emotional resonance and artistic greatness. Reading Tagore is not only illuminating but deeply moving. (Donna Seaman)

In common with thousands of his countrymen I owe much to one who by his poetic genius and singular purity of life has raised India in the estimation of the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)

The entire Indian civilization spoke through poetic wisdom of Rabindranath Tagore. (Deepak Chopra)

[Tagore's] lyrics...display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life long. (W.B. Yeats)

Tagore, who was a great master of words, seems to me have spoken about language, and its connection with social and political life, with accurate insight, and what he said has great interest for us today. (Isaiah Berlin)

From the Publisher

Praise over the century for Rabindranath Tagore and his work:

"In common with thousands of his countrymen I owe much to one by his poetic genius and singular purity of life has raised India in the estimation of the world." --Mahatma Gandhi

"The entire Indian civilization spoke through the poetic wisdom of Rabindranath Tagore." --Deepak Chopra

"[Tagore's] lyrics...display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life long." --W.B. Yeats

"Tagore, who was a great master of words, seems to me to have spoken about language, and its connection with social and political life, with acute insight, and what he said has great interest for us today." --Isaiah Berlin

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (December 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031220079X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312200794
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Nataraj Dasgupta on March 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
As I flipped through the pages of this 400-pg assortment of Tagore's Letters, Essays, Anecdotes and other like items, I could not help comparing the same to Barbara Holland's "Endangered Pleasures". The parallells are quite striking; however, An Anthology is in a completely different league of it's own. It's always a welcoming experience to read about Noble laureates, but Tagore wasn't just another Noble prize recipient - a man whose works had left the indelible etching in the minds of millions of Indians and steered the country to independence, inspired hopeless souls and rekindled the hopes of victory in a god-forsaken land. Striking yet more are the personal letters of Tagore, letters to his nephew Indira Tagore which I must admit were humorous far beyond what we expect out of a man whom we usually associate with sterner and solemn works. The book clearly draws a calm and serene picture of Calcutta back in those days. Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson has produced a magnificent compilation of Tagore's works that appeal directly to the Westerners and Easterners alike. The book begins with a translation of 'Dak Ghar' (The Post office), and recursively descends down the various phases of his life through essays, letters and other small works. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in learnign more about the man and his most interesting escapades and experiences in life - a truly refreshing journey indeed.
An excerpt - "In certain years in Calcutta, birds strange to the city used to come and build in our banyan tree. They would be off again almost before I had learnt to recognize the dance of their wings, but they brought with them a strange lovely music from their distant jungle homes.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Erika Borsos VINE VOICE on June 2, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With immense pleasure and great anticipation I read this Anthology. I feel the world is ready for Tagore's poems, short stories, and plays once more. His interest in world peace, his sensitivity for the human condition, and love of humanity is the kind of message the world needs, perhaps *even* more today than when the author first wrote his words. As with most translations of this author's famous work - there is a wonderful and necessary "Introduction" which gives many examples of his life experiences, interests, and achievements, helping one to sense the broad scope of knowledge and range of ideas to which the reader will be exposed.

Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson so wisely selected his play, "The Post Office" as the first chapter. This play is like a pearl found in an oyster shell ... the outside appearance gives no impression of the valuable gem to be found within. The message is breath-taking in its simplicity and sublime due to its universal message which transcends culture and time. The beauty of this Anthology is the wide range and depth of Tagore's writing to which the reader is exposed. His writing is awesome and inspiring, filled with love for mankind, by one who sees the complete picture, but nonetheless is filled with hope. We read Rabindranath Tagore's memoirs in "My Remininscences" - we learn about his relationship with his father, a journey into the Himalayas, and his boyhood days. Tagore's travel writings about Russia, Japan, England, Java, Persia, and a day at the spa in Balatonfured, Hungary are fascinating to read. We have the privilege of reading Tagore's personal letters to his neice, the poet Yeats, the poet Ezra Pound, many of his friends, the philosopher, Bertrand Russell, and many other people with whom he corresponded.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on April 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If the only thing that you read in this book were the short play "The Post Office", then it would still be worth the price. The ending of the play is one of many moments scattered throughout the pages that had an almost physical impact on me as a reader.

It a testimony to the sheer strength of Tagore as a writer that the reader is able to have those moments while reading this anthology. It unfortunately suffered from many of the typical problems of this kind of collection. The selections often felt too shallow and abbreviated. The quality of the translations varied wildly from chapter to chapter.

As a reader, I would have appreciated it if Dutta and Robinson had refrained from excerpting the longer prose works and instead had concentrated on deepening the selection of letters, short stories and essays. Reading an excerpt of a longer work is bound to be a frustrating exercise, and the space was used at the expense of material more natural for this kind of collection.

I picked this up to give me an overview of Tagore as a writer. It served that purpose admirably. Recommended for someone with the same task in mind.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tony Theil on September 29, 2003
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This anthology was my introduction to Tagore and what a spectacular discovery! It was like being introduced to several writers, each one distinctly different, dependent upon the medium.
Tagore's five short stories in this anthology are folkloric, sometimes sad or humorous, somewhat other worldly, and always entertaining. They expose the hues of Bengal better than paintings with their brilliant characterizations and finite details of place and time. Here's a sampling from The Raj Seal: "An old story came to his mind. An ass was pulling a temple car along the sacred way, and the passers-by, prostrating themselves in the dust before it were offering their pranams. 'They are all worshipping me,' the foolish ass thought. 'There's only one small difference between that ass and me,' the elder brother told himself. 'I have at last realized that it is not my person the British sahibs respect, but the jacket weighing on my shoulders.'"
Tagore's play The Post Office is included in its entirety. It's very childlike and simplistic in structure, yet it is poignantly profound with its message that death is serene; "...that great ocean of truth to which all life returns".
The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to him in 1913. Part of the tribute was for Tagore's poetry, particularly Gitanjali; however, there is too small of a sample (four stanzas) to truly appreciate it. My favorite from the anthology was Flute Music, an autobiographical poem.
Tagore the philosopher is evident in his essays and letters. In his letters he takes on the persona to whom the letter is addressed. The debate with Einstein "On the Nature of Reality" leaves the reader uncertain as to who was more convincing.
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