About the BookRabindranath Tagore’s long life (1861-1941) was marked by ceaseless and torrential flow of creativity manifested in the richness and variety of all kinds of literary and artistic forms. He was both a man of action and a seer, a man of royal grandeur and an ascetic. In his philosophy of life the best of the East and that of the West are reconciled into a harmonious whole. His inclusive mind aspired after the Universal Man shining in the glory of creation and joie de vivre. With the passage of time, Tagore, our first Nobel laureate, has only grown in stature and is now reckoned as an increasingly significant and rich personality and a genius for all times.
Among Rabindranath’s major fictional works, Gor? (1910), the sixth in the chronological order, is remarkable for its superb handling of certain topical social-religious-political controversies while reflecting at the same time some of the author’s major preoccupations and convictions like the value of truth, freedom, dignity of the individual, which remained with him all along as a driving force behind his personal life as well as his great creative and critical oeuvre.
The novel is set against the atmosphere of political excitement and religious debates that characterized the first decades of the last century in Bengal and India. In the words of Asit Bandyopadhyaya: “Gor? is not only an epoch-making novel of modern Indian literature, it is certainly comparable with any epic novel of Europe in shape and size, in treatment and in execution.” In a similar vein Niharranjan Roy, the eminent historian, eulogized Gor? for its “amplitude of ancient epics”. Sukumar Sen, the renowned scholar, hailed it as “a Mah?bh?rata of modern India”, while Tagore’s biographer Krishna Kripalani praised the novel as “the epic of India in ‘transition’”, and compared it with Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Tagore’s consistent, profound and lifelong exploration of the two issues—religion and nationalism—which necessarily got intersected during those days of newly awakened cultural nationalism, found reflection in the novel. His own idealism and ideals about India, his thoughts, activities, his anguish, his dreams and disillusionment, all work together behind Gor?.
Significantly, in spite of all this Gor? does not end up as merely a social-political treatise or discourse, and remains relevant across space and time for its message of universal humanism.
The translators have attempted to strike a fine balance between fidelity and freedom by conveying the spirit of the original and yet conforming to the genius of English language. It will enable those who do not know Bengali or do not have enough proficiency in Bengali to enjoy a novel written by no less a mighty literary figure than Rabindranath Tagore.About the Author/sMohit K. Ray, recently retired, is one of the seniormost Professors of English in the country. He has four books and a large number of research papers published in scholarly journals in India and abroad. Dr. Ray has edited several anthologies of critical studies, including two volumes on Rabindranath Tagore and one on Translation Studies. He also edits The Atlantic Critical Review, an international quarterly of global circulation. He is at present working as the Chief Editor of Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Ltd.
Rama Kundu, a full Professor of English, in Burdwan University, West Bengal, is the author of five books. She edits The Atlantic Literary Review and has also edited several anthologies of research papers including one on Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World, in addition to translating a volume of poems into English—On the Revolving Stage. Dr. Kundu has written a large number of research papers published in scholarly journals and anthologies in India and abroad.