Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: Young Tagore

This book is about Tagore in the making. It is a careful reconstruction of days of Tagore during his childhood and youth. It has liberal references to Tagore’s memoirs ‘My Reminiscences’ and ‘My Boyhood Days’ and his other works to create a psycho biography of young Tagore, the inner world within him shaping the genius.

Rabindranath’s creativity and literary interests were evident when he translated Shakespeare’s works when he was 13. His ability to write poems brought him praise from his school teachers but won him no friends instead he was bullied by schoolmates for being feminine. He lost his mother when he was 14. While making efforts to overcome the feeling of abandonment, he became emotionally closure to his sister in law, Kadambari (his elder brother’s wife) who nurtured the creative abilities of Tagore. And a travel to England for a year, when he was 17, expanded the universe of Tagore making him more expressive and liberal in thoughts. On his coming back, his literary works flowed uninterrupted and brought him name and fame. But his marriage against his liking proved an emotional drain and the suicide of Kadambari puts Tagore into depression which was expressed in his works produced during that time, more evidently in Ghare Baire (The Home and the World).

While the world knows of Tagore as a poet, novelist, story writer, painter, and philosopher (and so on), this book shows he was a private person and a series of untimely deaths in his family made him more sensual and gave him an ability to create stories from his own life.


After reading this book, I thought of checking with Sudhir on the question I had and he replied. Here is the e-mail conversation.

Dear Sudhir,

Reading your ‘Young Tagore’ helped me understand the sensual young Tagore but a question raised in myself, that, if Rabindra was not born in a rich family, or if he was forced to earn for his daily bread, was his sensual creativity still remained high?

I thought many are born with creative abilities but that does not see nurturing or the person cannot spend much time in creative expressions in the form of writing, painting, theater etc. as their daily chores of life forces them to earn from some other routine jobs to feed themselves and their family. For young Rabindra, there were no such financial worries or denying access to resources he wanted. Did this help him to spend time in what he was good at and what he liked to do and flourish?



Dear Anand,

You are right that creative ability need facilitating circumstances, social and financial, to express itself.

Sudhir Kakar