Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThis moving, essential biography of one of the century's great artists profiles an individualist who brought East and West into receptive emotional and intellectual contact. Bengali poet, novelist, essayist and playwright Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, believed India was uniquely capable of synthesizing Eastern spirituality with Western practicality. Tagore helped to lead India's first modern patriotic movement, in 1905-1907, and the institute for rural reconstruction, which he founded in 1921, anticipated Gandhi's efforts. Demythologizing yet sympathetic, this biography explores Tagore's many contradictions. Internationalist yet elitist, he was an aristocrat by training and temperament and clashed frequently with Gandhi's nationalist movement. Although he condemned child marriage and supported women's rights in his writings, Tagore in his personal life craved women's unswerving devotion, and he married off his two older daughters at the ages of 10 and 14. The authors examine Tagore's protean creativity, including his songs, operas, dance-dramas and paintings; they also interweave wonderful new translations of numerous poems. Dutta is translator of Tagore's Selected Short Stories; Robinson is the author of The Art of Rabindranath Tagore. Photos. (Dec.)
Library JournalIndia's greatest modern poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) tried throughout his life to bridge the Eastern and Western worlds that were his dual patrimony. Lionized in the West after winning the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913, he was treated as the personification of Eastern wisdom. In this compelling biography, Dutta, a teacher in London, and Robinson, an editor, succeed admirably in delineating the complexity of a creative genius who embodied the ambivalence of modern India toward the British raj. An eloquent advocate of Indian self-rule, Tagore was a loner who eschewed politics and criticized his compatriots as harshly as he did the British. Enriched with numerous brief excerpts from Tagore's writing, this balanced and authoritative biography deserves a broad readership.-Steven I. Levine, Boulder Run Research, Hillsborough, N.C.
Donna SeamanThe great Bengali writer Tagore (18611941) won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, and was revered in the West and often vilified in India, one of many ironies in his long, complicated, and utterly compelling life. Tagore always promoted the union of Eastern spirituality with Western pragmatism, a union reflected, auspiciously enough, in the seamless collaboration between authors Dutta and Robinson, who manage to cover a tremendous amount of fresh biographical, cultural, and political terrain without losing their narrative thread. A writer of astonishing prolificacy and myriad talents, Tagore combined lyricism and irony, the private and the public in his poems, plays, musical dramas, songs, essays, memoirs, short stories, and letters. Later he even added painting to his diverse oeuvre. Tagore also founded a university and traveled all over the world. He had a contentious yet mutually admiring relationship with Gandhi, inspired the evocative films of Satyajit Ray, and charmed nearly everyone he met. The authors excel not only at chronicling the particulars of Tagore's life, but also at portraying his "mercurial personality." They call him a colossus and a chameleon but declare that he was, above all, a devoted humanist and a radiant artist.
- St. Martin's Press
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