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200 × 130 × 15 mm
248 pages
34 illustrations
12 Aug 2019
Critical Lives

Rabindranath Tagore Bashabi Fraser

Polymath Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1913. But Tagore was much more than a writer. Through his poems, novels, short stories, poetic songs, dance-dramas and paintings, he transformed Bengali literature and Indian art. He was instrumental in bringing Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and strove to create a less divided society through mutual respect and understanding, like his great contemporary and close friend, Mahatma Gandhi.

In this timely reappraisal of Tagore’s life and work, Bashabi Fraser assesses Tagore’s many activities and shows how he embodies the modern consciousness of India. She examines his ties to his upbringing in Bengal, his role in Indian politics and his interests in international relationships, as well as addressing some of the mis-readings of his life and work through a holistic perspective.

‘a unique insight to Tagore’s life, his experiences in India, Europe, China, and Japan and cites numerous incidents from his life that directly influenced some of his great works . . . This intuitive and charmingly written biography of a man who transcended all sorts of borders is a must-read. For someone who is interested in knowing the events that shaped Tagore’s literary career, this concise and yet critical book will be of immense help. More than anything else, the present volume is an indispensable and resourceful guide to know all that "Viswakabi" Rabindranath Tagore stood for.’ — Political and Business Daily, India

‘Comprehensive in its coverage of the multi-faceted genius of Rabindranath Tagore, insightful and clearly written, this is a succinct critical biography of a man who transcended all sorts of borders and traversed continents in his lifetime. Bashabi Fraser presents Tagore’s life and works with sympathy and care, tracing the different strands that came together in him, and giving us ample reasons to value his contribution to the world he lived in.’ — Fakrul Alam, East West University, Dhaka, and co-editor of The Essential Tagore

‘An excellent and informative introduction to Tagore and his context.’ — Amit Chaudhuri, author of The Immortals, Freedom Song and Calcutta

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Bashabi Fraser is Emeritus Professor and co-founder and Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs) at Edinburgh Napier University. Her most recent publications include Scottish Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: the Continuum of Ideas (2017), Rabindranath Tagore’s Global Vision (2015) and Letters to My Mother anf Other Mothers (2015). She lives in Edinburgh.


1 The Tagores of Jorasanko
2 Growing Up in the Tagore Household
3 English Interlude
4 Loss and the Journey to the Banks of the Padma
5 The Abode of Peace
6 From Shantiniketan to the World Stage
7 The Renunciation of Knighthood
8 Where the World Meets in a Nest
9 ‘The Call of Truth’ and ‘The Great Sentinel’
10 Waves of Nationalism and The Religion of Man
11 Tagore’s Modernity
12 The Legacy: At Home and in the World

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Photo Acknowledgements