Introduction: Tagore's Contemporary Relevance

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Rabindranath Tagore is a legendary figure in world literature, highly acclaimed not only within India and Bangladesh, – wherein his native Ben­gal lies – but in other regions of Asia and beyond. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in 1913, he has been dubbed variously as Biswak­abi (“world poet”), an “eagle-sized lark” (Roman Rolland), “a votary of Truth sensed through Beauty” (qtd. in Guha), the “flower and fruit” of the Bengal Renaissance (C.F. Andrews, in Das, Vol III: 222) and a progeni­tor and protagonist of the Asian Renaissance (Ibrahim 21). Ramachandra Guha describes him as one of the “four founders” of modern India (Guha); Albert Schweitzer called him “the Goethe of India” (Kripalani 295); and Ravi Shankar, a legendary musician himself, believed that had Tagore “been born in the West, he would now be [as] revered as Shakespeare and Goe­the” (qtd. in Sen, “Poetry and Reason”). In a personal letter to his daughter, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru described Tagore as “a great writer and artist” (qtd. in Guha), while in his book The Discovery of India, he went on to praise the iconic poet as “India’s internationalist per excellence” (403). Upon hearing the news of Tagore’s death, Nehru affirmed in his prison diary on 7 August 1941, “among the world’s great men today Gandhi and Tagore were supreme as human beings” (qtd. in Hallengren 180).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTagore, Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism
Subtitle of host publicationPerceptions, Contestations and Contemporary Relevance
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781000042368, 9780429285110
ISBN (Print)9780367218720
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Tagore, Rabindranath
  • Criticism and interpretation.
  • perception of nationalism
  • rhetoric of cosmopolitanism
  • political philosophy


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