Two books on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore were launched at a session dedicated to the poet and playwright on Friday, Day 2 of the Tata Literature Live! Festival.
The session, sponsored by the KK Birla Foundation, was titled ‘A Noble Date’ and featured the two authors — psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar and historian Sugata Bose — in conversation with columnist and historian Ananya Vajpeyi and economist Meghnad Desai.
Kakar’s book, ‘Young Tagore: The Makings of a Genius’, is a psychobiography that examines the inner workings of young Tagore’s mind, his creative processes, the impact of his experiences, including his mother’s death when he was 14, his close bond with sister-in-law Kadambari, and his London stay.
“I went through the archives at Santiniketan…but Tagore has done all the legwork himself, giving us vital information in his three autobiographies,” said Kakar. “My book is an interpretation of his writings and experiences, trying to understand the workings of perhaps the greatest multi- faceted genius India has produced in the last 200 years.”
The second book, ‘Tagore: The World Voyager’, by Sugata Bose is a special Nobel centenary edition of English translations of Tagore’s songs which, for a long time, were considered ‘untranslatable’.
“Tagore, though adept in Bangla and English, was not his own best translator,” said Bose. “He wrote songs in modern Bangla, but translated them into archaic English. So I decided to translate these into modern English.”
Tagore’s imagination was very different from imagination in the normal sense, Kakar added. “For us, imagination is the dramatisation of desire,” he explained. “But Tagore’s imagination is connective, in that it bears the greatest empathy. So when Tagore’s imagination has him write about a tree, he really becomes the tree.”
(To view the Tata Literature Live! schedule, visit litlive.in)