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Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translator(s): Nivedita Sen
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8188575402
One of Rabindranath Tagore’s most controversial novels, Ghare Baire (1916), (The Home and the World) continues to be read, taught and discussed with passion because the issues it unravels are pertinent to the literary and social concerns of our times.
The tale revolves around Nikhilesh, a benevolent zamindar, Bimala, his wife, and Nikhilesh’s friend Sandip. While Bimala falls in love with the dynamic and ruthlessly fanatical Sandip and identifies in him the nationalist cause in flesh and blood, he configures her as a comprehensive icon of the nation as mother. The interactions among the three lead to an explosive situation.
The novel fictionalizes the tragic predicament of a woman who is exposed to a remarkable freedom in her personal and political choices. It also experiments with a narrative mode that concurrently deploys three autonomous autobiographical voices. Finally, the novel dramatizes a volatile debate between a recklessly militant nationalism and a more considered stance in the wake of the partitioning of Bengal in 1905. It thus not only lends itself to scholarship on gender and genre, but simultaneously offers its discursive representation of the nation as a subject for inter-disciplinary study.
This version of Ghare Baire is an attempt to render the complete and unabridged text in English. The novel was originally translated by Surenderanath Tagore in 1919. Despite the omissions and archaisms of the existent translation, it has not been retranslated. Since Ghare Baire has the same overriding and relevant concerns as Chokher Bali, Gora and Char Adhyay, all boasting of multiple adaptations in English, its rendition into English has long been overdue.
There is no attempt at conscious allegory in this: it is a mere story. IT describes the tears and laughter that resonate through the actions and reactions between one’s interior and exterior, one’s self and the other. If there is anything else, it is irrelevant and fortuitous.
Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) offers a critique of nationalism and suggests that a nationalism which steam-rollers society into making a uniform stand against colonialism, will tear apart the social fabric of the country, even if it formally helps to decolonize the country.