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Memories of Tagore

E.P. Thompson, 22 May 1986

... Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the 125th anniversary of whose birth is being celebrated by a series of festival events in London this month, returned to Bengal in September 1913 after a triumphant spell in England. Sir William Rothenstein had introduced him to English literary and artistic circles in the course of the previous year ...

Our Jack

Julian Symons, 22 July 1993

Imagination of the Heart: The Life of Walter de la Mare 
by Theresa Whistler.
Duckworth, 478 pp., £25, May 1993, 9780715624302
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... Binyon and Shanks’, ‘Childe, Blunden and Earp’, even ‘Abercrombie, Drink-water and Rabindranath Tagore’? But she knows it is not so: Blight, Mildew and Smut were for Denis the poets of the decade. Aldous Huxley’s joke against Georgian poetry has lost none of its effectiveness seventy-odd years on. That tireless promoter of the ...

Convenient Death of a Hero

Arnold Rattenbury, 8 May 1997

Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... Blake; the far less noticed Alien Homage (1993), about his father’s see-saw relationship with Rabindranath Tagore (his father, also Edward Thompson: Indianist, novelist, Georgian poet, polemicist, editor, hereinafter Old Edward – which is how I knew him). All these books are of a piece, inveighing against an academicism which mythologises ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1986, 18 December 1986

... has died, I note. I have no idea who Krishnamurti is. In my mind, he’s in the same cupboard as Rabindranath Tagore, Kalil Gibran, the Rig Veda and the turbanned commissionaire of the old Veeraswamy’s Restaurant in Swallow Street. It’s one of those cupboards I keep meaning to clear out but never do. Hearing Krishnamurti has died, I open it a ...

A Bottle of Ink, a Pen and a Blotter

Amit Chaudhuri: R.K. Narayan, 9 August 2001

... a country with an ancient philosophical and religious, mainly Brahminical, tradition; figures like Tagore (largely misinterpreted in this respect, but with his own collusion) and Radhakrishnan loomed large as examples of high-minded, unworldly ‘Indianness’. (Narayan’s own youthful reading included, he tells us in My Days, ...

Two Giant Brothers

Amit Chaudhuri: Tagore’s Modernism, 20 April 2006

Selected Poems 
by Rabindranath Tagore, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri.
Oxford India, 449 pp., £23.99, April 2004, 0 19 566867 7
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... cultural, emotional, philosophical and political potential of the notion of the ‘Orient’ was Tagore. A hundred years before Tagore, no Bengal poet saw the Orient and its unbroken past as a foundation, a point of origin, and a parameter for the self and for creativity; there is no ‘Orient’, or ‘East’, for the ...

Homage to Satyajit Ray

Salman Rushdie, 8 March 1990

Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye 
by Andrew Robinson.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £17.95, November 1989, 0 233 98473 9
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... the province’ sheds valuable light on his son Satyajit’s later decision to film the novel Rabindranath Tagore wrote about the movement, Ghare Baire (The Home and the World); and Ray’s own family associations with Tagore himself provide equally valuable sidelights on the film director’s lifelong engagement ...

At the Helm of the World

Pankaj Mishra: Alexander Herzen, 1 June 2017

The Discovery of Chance: The Life and Thought of Alexander Herzen 
by Aileen Kelly.
Harvard, 582 pp., £31.95, May 2016, 978 0 674 73711 2
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... anti-Westernism of From the Other Shore. Many travellers from the East, such as the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, the Chinese thinker Liang Qichao and the Islamist agitator Sayyid Qutb, would have found little to disagree with. Deploring the bourgeoisie’s homogenous culture of acquisition and consumption, Herzen came to respect human diversity not ...

At Ramayan Shah’s Hotel

Deborah Baker: Calcutta, 23 May 2013

Calcutta: Two Years in the City 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Union, 307 pp., £16.99, February 2013, 978 1 908526 17 5
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... hearing the difference between ‘worm’ and ‘warm’. Even Calcutta’s sole Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, had trouble here. The relationship between a writer and his subjects is often a cold one and for all Chaudhuri’s artfully phrased affection for his hosts there is something merciless in his narrative of the Mukherjees’ declining ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... to revitalising their own literature, which was still in thrall to Asia’s first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Like many American poets, including Ginsberg but also Eliot and Stevens, Ashbery and O’Hara, they were galvanised by modern French poetry. Like the Surrealists, they issued their own magazine (called Krittibas) and manifestos under the ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... Yeats is covered in detail – as are his associations with everyone from Olivia Shakespear to Rabindranath Tagore to Harriet Monroe. Capsule biographies of everyone and their lover (and their literary rag) are provided at each turn. It seems that in Carr, modernism has found its recording angel. By leaving nothing out, Carr ensures two ...

Bendy Rulers

Glen Newey: Amartya Sen, 28 January 2010

The Idea of Justice 
by Amartya Sen.
Allen Lane, 468 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 1 84614 147 8
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... Human Security. Sen also devised a widely used index for measuring poverty and has written about Rabindranath Tagore, a family friend. Accordingly, the material in this new book is exhilaratingly broad. He discusses human rights, the Mahabharata, bounded rationality, development aid, the Bengal famine of 1943, cognitive psychology and risk ...

The Unseeables

Tariq Ali: Caste or Class, 30 August 2018

Ants among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India 
by Sujatha Gidla.
Daunt, 341 pp., £14.99, May 2018, 978 1 911547 20 4
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... writing in the same period, was more aggressive. His poems (badly translated into English by Rabindranath Tagore) are still sung in many parts of India. One of them, not a Tagore translation, reads: Cow dung’s impure the bathing-square is impure even its curves are impure Kabir says: Only they are pure Who’ve ...

Determined to Spin

Susan Watkins, 22 June 2000

The Clear Stream: A Life of Winifred Holtby 
by Marion Shaw.
Virago, 335 pp., £18.99, August 1999, 1 86049 537 0
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... and her friends, surrounded by ‘talk of books, and socialism, and plays, and whether Sir Rabindranath Tagore should have won the Nobel Prize’: ‘She was home at last.’ That Brittain was demanding, greedy for reassurance only made the attraction stronger. By dint of relentless warmth and encouragement, Winifred talked Vera back from the edge ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson, 7 March 2013

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... and writing a string of books about the subcontinent. The first was a ‘life and work’ of Rabindranath Tagore, one of several eminent family friends, who also included Nehru.* There is a wonderful photo of Gandhi in the Thompsons’ garden at Boars Hill in 1931: a photographer in a Calcutta studio might have unfurled a backdrop labelled ...

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