Rabindranath Tagore is widely regarded as a poet-philosopher and educationist, but his novels remain a relatively underexplored aspect of his oeuvre. Focusing on gender and modernity as key features of his fiction, this book charts Tagore's evolution as a novelist from self-conscious psychologizing in Chokher Bali to an engagement with nationalism in Gora and Ghare Baire (The Home and the World); a portrayal of asceticism and desire in Chaturanga (Quartet); an analysis of marriage, sexuality and change in Bengali society in Yogayog (Relationships); an effervescent fusion of social satire and literary experimentation in Shesher Kabita (Farewell Song); and an intense, dramatic study of love, politics and terrorism in Char Adhyay (Four Chapters).
This study demonstrates that Tagore’s writings cannot be readily assimilated within current theoretical frameworks, and urges us to rethink the conventional oppositions between tradition and modernity, masculinity and femininity, East and West, and local and global. Addressing a major gap in the field, the book reconstructs Tagore as a novelist of eminent stature, demonstrates the range and complexity of his creative genius, his contribution to literary history and the relevance of his reflections to our times. Enriched by insights into the biographical and socio-historical contexts of his novels, this book will be of special interest to researchers, teachers and students of comparative and world literature, history, postcolonial studies and gender studies, as also to Tagore enthusiasts.
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Radha Chakravarty is a literary critic and translator. She teaches English Literature at Gargi College, University of Delhi.
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