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ENG213H1 (3)


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Uzo Esonwanne

The Village and the World: A Political Reading of Rabindranath Tagores Prose Fiction Christine Marsh, BSc, BA (Hons.) The Village and the World: A Political Reading of Rabindranath Tagores Prose Fiction Christine Marsh, BSc, BA (Hons.) [email protected] September 2006. The Village and the World 3 SYNOPSIS This essay is the end product of research into the prose fiction of the Bengali writer, Rabindranath Tagore, who is best known for his poetry. The works chosen for analysis are short stories and novels in English translation, written between 1890 and 1915. The study involved a political reading of these texts in order to explore how, in the 1920s, Tagore came to establish a centre for rural reconstruction and an international university, as his practical contribution to bringing into reality his vision of a world of cooperation and community. Recognising Tagores identity as Poet and Reformer is crucial to interpreting his stories and longer fiction, and leads to questioning criticism of the work according to established Western models. The Introduction puts the chosen texts in the context of Tagores life and the historical background, in particular looking at how the British Empire disrupted village life, and created an urban middle class of landlords and administrators, who became Westernised due to their having benefited from the Raj. The first main chapter is focused on the Village, and the short stories Tagore wrote during the 1890s whilst he was managing the family estates. One particular short story, Punishment, is examined closely to reveal the layers of meaning underlying Tagores method of story-writing. The study revealed Tagores particular interest in the role of women in traditional domestic and village life, and introduced the idea of dharma as the duty of a wife towards her husband and her family. The second main chapter is focused on the World and how the novel form brought from the West developed in India. Three of Tagores novels are examined: The Wreck (1906), Gora (1909) and The Home and the World (1915). Tagore employed the technique of allegory to challenge urban values and social divisions, and to show that the individual has a responsibility to shun group identity and embrace universal understanding, tolerance and cooperation. The novels take the Western reader further into the Indian concept of dharma, as the means by which the individual in relationship with others can become a practical reality. The concluding chapter summarises how the study has demonstrated the need to question Western assumptions, in literature studies, and in the dominant model of world economics and politics, in order that Tagores alternative vision may be appreciated by the wider world. The Village and the World 4 CONTENTS: 1. INTRODUCTION: RABINDRANATH TAGORE, 6 HIS PROSE FICTION IN CONTEXT 2. THE VILLAGE: TAGORES SHORT STORIES 11 3. THE WORLD: TAGORES NOVELS 22 4. CONCLUSION: THE VILLAGE AND THE WORLD 36 BIBLIOGRAPHY 40
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