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 recognized as an increasingly significant and rich personality and a genius for all times.
J?vansm?ti (1911) is an intimate account by Rabindranath, aptly called j?van?ilp? (artist of life), of the growth of the inner man within him from early childhood to youth. In J?vansm?ti, the mature elderly poet seems to have been looking back—affectionately, indulgently, wittily—to the days of his childhood, boyhood, and the sad, mad and sweet boisterous days of early youth. He seems to have been wandering down memory lane, greeting once more the dear departed friends and kin in the mellowed light of fond remembrance.
Unlike a conventional autobiography J?vansm?ti is not a systematic chronicle of events; rather it is unified by the author’s consciousness of invisible correspondence between his living and writing, operating like the impalpable note of some musical melody.
By offering many an explanation/clue to many a recurring idea, theme, facet in Tagore’s immeasurably rich and variegated literary and artistic oeuvre, J?vansm?ti also provides a ‘magic casement’ opening on the ocean of Tagore’s creative and artistic oeuvre, and helps us to understand the author and his works better. Indeed Tagore’s oeuvre and J?vansm?ti mutually lend colour, tone and keys to each other.
The book is written in such an easeful manner and in the tone of an intimate talk among friends, that after finishing the book one’s immediate feeling is of having a rare experience—as if one had spent some time with Rabindranath, sitting face to face, listening to his exquisite talk— a talk partly with himself, partly with the reader—a talk pleasurable to the ear, fascinating for the mind, which can be validly described as ‘a colourful flow of music’ or ‘a melodious rainbow’. It is as if one had taken a plunge in an unbelievably wonderful spring made of literature, music, painting, philosophy and humour.
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 plunge into this ‘colourful flow of music’ or ‘melodious rainbow’.About the Author/sDr Mohit K. Ray, recently retired, is one of the seniormost Professors of English in the country. He has five books and a large number of research papers published in scholarly journals in India and abroad. Professor 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 Pvt. Ltd.
Dr Rama Kundu, a full Professor of English, in Burdwan University, West Bengal, is the author of nine 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. She has written a large number of research papers published in scholarly journals and anthologies in India and abroad.
Prof. Ray and Prof. Kundu have jointly translated Rabindranath Tagore’s Gor? (APD 2008).