These three books chronicle in every sense Rabindranath Tagore’s contributions to the world of art. Today Postnoon looks at his incredible journey as a poet, musical genius, playwright, educator and artist
As the first non-European and the only Indian to have ever received the Nobel Prize in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore has been a subject of great fascination for writers and biographers alike. Many of them in particular talk of Tagore the author, analysing his works, understanding his genius and of course of the Geetanjali.
So it’s refreshing that this pictorial biography is one that chronicles his life and works in the context of the period in which he lived and more importantly, give us insights into the lesser known aspects of Tagore. It’s public knowledge that ‘Rabi’ was born into the Jorasanko family, but did you know that Tagore was the youngest of 13 surviving children and that he was mostly raised by servants? It is just one of the many, many facts, anecdotes and accounts of the author’s life that’s revealed through this beautiful coffee-table edition. His “interpretations of life, quest for love, faith and devotion in his deep-rooted anguish, his unfulfilled dreams and expectations” are depicted beautifully.
But most importantly, this book is a treasure trove of rare pictures and correspondences that you would be lucky to find even in Shantiniketan. From his childhood in Jorasanko to translating his own poems to Home and the World, Geetanjali and the Nobel Prize, his journeys across the world, the Indian National Movement to his last flourishes, there’s little about the man you can’t find here.
It’s obvious that this came from Nityapriya Ghosh – a prolific writer who has written and edited several books on Tagore.
Name: Rabindranath Tagore —A pictorial biography
Author: Nityapriya Ghosh
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Tagore’s Paintings-Versification in Lines describes the journey of an artist. The author Sovon Som has done intense research to come up with this interesting coffee-table book on Tagore. Most of us know of Rabindranath Tagore the poet but few knew of Tagore as an artist. Even Tagore shares the readers mystification. Dark, lingering and haunting landscapes of another primordial and marvellous world, constituted Tagore’s works. With the passage of time, critics and art lovers have been discovering an alter-ego to Tagore. The reader is greeted first with an introduction to Gurudev, a glimpse into his early life. Through the book we learn more about Tagore’s perception of art. He expressed through his paintings those impulses and realisations which he could not convey in his writings. Modernism till the mid-nineteenth century was still seen as a European prerogative, so Tagore paintings generated a considerable amount of interest. A German paper wrote about Tagore’s paintings which were on exhibition at Charlottenburg in 1930. “The poet calls his paintings ‘Verses in Line’. He also announces that for him the rhythmic form is the important one. Looked at from these points of view, the spectator experiences a feeling of contact in these paintings which are most interesting in that they venture along the road of modern European aspirations…”
For those interested in learning more about the life of this multi-faceted genius, this book would be a boon. Students of literature will find the book extremely helpful for research purposes. The author’s detailed analysis and recollections of Tagore’s thoughts in the book, make for an interesting reading.
Name: Tagore’s paintings — versification in line
Author: Sovon Som
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Tagore’s Mystique of Dance by Utpal K Banerjee takes you through the life of Rabindranath Tagore and how he derived inspiration from diverse sources in the realm of visual, literary and performing arts. Tagore’s dance has been celebrated for decades and performers usually describe it as a kind of mood dancing. He was exposed to a plethora of cultural experiences and this has very often reflected in his work. In Tagore’s dance, one can see a culmination of dances from Asia-Pacific and from the subcontinent.
The author’s expertise on Indian culture has resulted in a perfect balance narrative and explanation, thus allowing a larger audience, especially the non-Bengalis, to enjoy the benefit of this book. The book contains Tagore’s paintings and music, and both arts have been used well to explain the mystery behind Tagore’s dance. The author, it seems has gone through the Visva-Bharati archives to come up with a clear and vivid account of Tagore’s lifelong experiments with music, performance and dance, and shown how dance was central to his educational and aesthetic ideals. However, for academic or scholarly readers, the main drawback is the lack of annotation or references, and it even lacks a bibliography. For the sheer visual appeal, this is a great coffee-table book.
Name: Tagore’s Mystique of Dance
Author: Utpal K Bannerjee
Publisher: Niyogi Books