"‘Can the icon that the multitude created escape the hunger of the eternal dust?' . . . Rabindranath Tagore wrote thus in 1939; two years before his death.
This intellectual biography of Tagore; perhaps the first of its kind; portrays him as a man who was deeply sceptical; self-critical; tormented by conflicts in his ‘inner life'; aware of the historical significance of his times and continually interacted with adversaries and friends across the world; someone who built on the heritage of the nineteenth century renaissance in India and became one of the makers of the modern Indian mind.
Young Rabi rebelled against ‘Western' schooling; suffered from chronic loneliness in childhood and after; and imbibed the cultural and literary climate in his privileged family; he also engaged as a cultural leader with the Swadeshi movement on Bengal's partition in 1905; founded the school in Santiniketan and renounced his knighthood after Jallianwala Bagh. Through his eighty-one years; Tagore swung between public life and seclusion of a poet.
Over time; he would reinvent his creative self. His life was; however; not bereft of contradictions. His patriotism and love for Bengal and India flowed alongside his belief in a transnational humanist universalism; the ‘religion of man' for the future of civilization.
Rabindranath Tagore: an Interpretation situates the iconic figure in the history of his tumultuous times—of an India in the throes of the national struggle for independence and of a world moving from Victorian stability to the turmoil of World War II. Coinciding with his 150th birth anniversary; it illuminates Tagore's extraordinary contributions: as a poet and writer; nationalist and ideologue; educationist and philosopher; composer and painter.