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GHARE-BAIRE, a novel by Rabindranath Tagore (Bangla classic ebook Book 1)

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The Home and the World is set during the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods that was initiated in 1905 as a protest against Great Britain’s arbitrary division of Bengal into two parts. At first, Tagore was one of the leaders of Swadeshi, but when protests evolved into violent conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, Tagore left the movement. In The Ho The Home and the World is set during the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods that was initiated in 1905 as a protest against Great Britain’s arbitrary division of Bengal into two parts. At first, Tagore was one of the leaders of Swadeshi, but when protests evolved into violent conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, Tagore left the movement. In The Home and the World, he explained why he did not approve of what Swadeshi had become. The novel consists of twenty-three chapters, each of them a first-person narrative by one of the three major characters. The first and the last chapters are both labeled “Bimala’s Story,” thus emphasizing the fact that the young wife Bimala is the pivotal character in what is superficially a love triangle but, more profoundly, is a conflict between two points of view, one good, the other evil. The other two narrators are Nikhil, Bimala’s husband, a wealthy landowner with Enlightenment views and a benevolent nature, and Sandip, a charismatic but completely unscrupulous Swadeshi leader.


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The Home and the World is set during the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods that was initiated in 1905 as a protest against Great Britain’s arbitrary division of Bengal into two parts. At first, Tagore was one of the leaders of Swadeshi, but when protests evolved into violent conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, Tagore left the movement. In The Ho The Home and the World is set during the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods that was initiated in 1905 as a protest against Great Britain’s arbitrary division of Bengal into two parts. At first, Tagore was one of the leaders of Swadeshi, but when protests evolved into violent conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, Tagore left the movement. In The Home and the World, he explained why he did not approve of what Swadeshi had become. The novel consists of twenty-three chapters, each of them a first-person narrative by one of the three major characters. The first and the last chapters are both labeled “Bimala’s Story,” thus emphasizing the fact that the young wife Bimala is the pivotal character in what is superficially a love triangle but, more profoundly, is a conflict between two points of view, one good, the other evil. The other two narrators are Nikhil, Bimala’s husband, a wealthy landowner with Enlightenment views and a benevolent nature, and Sandip, a charismatic but completely unscrupulous Swadeshi leader.

30 review for GHARE-BAIRE, a novel by Rabindranath Tagore (Bangla classic ebook Book 1)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    ঘরে বাইরে = Ghôre Baire or Ghare Baire = The Home and the World, Rabindranath Tagore The Home and the World (in the original Bengali, ঘরে বাইরে Ghôre Baire or Ghare Baire, lit. "At home and outside") is a 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore. The book illustrates the battle Tagore had with himself, between the ideas of Western culture and revolution against the Western culture. These two ideas are portrayed in two of the main characters, Nikhil, who is rational and opposes violence, and Sandip, who ঘরে বাইরে = Ghôre Baire or Ghare Baire = The Home and the World, Rabindranath Tagore The Home and the World (in the original Bengali, ঘরে বাইরে Ghôre Baire or Ghare Baire, lit. "At home and outside") is a 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore. The book illustrates the battle Tagore had with himself, between the ideas of Western culture and revolution against the Western culture. These two ideas are portrayed in two of the main characters, Nikhil, who is rational and opposes violence, and Sandip, who will let nothing stand in his way from reaching his goals. These two opposing ideals are very important in understanding the history of the Bengal region and its contemporary problems. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یازدهم ماه نوامبر سال 1989 میلادی عنوان: خانه و جهان؛ نویسنده: رابیندرانات تاگور؛ مترجم: زهری خانلری (کیا)؛ تهران، توسن، 1367، در 226 ص؛ چاپ دوم، 1386، شابک: 9643153150؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان هندی قرن 20 م داستان نخستین بار در سال 1915 میلادی منتشر شد، در سرزمین بنگاله رخ میدهد. داستان ‌از زبان سه راوی روایت میشود که در برابر يكديگر قرار میگیرند و باهم بگومگو میکنند. ساتیا جیت ‌رای کارگردان مشهور هندی فیلمی از این داستان ساخته است‌‌، با سال شمار زندگی و آثار رابیندرانات تاگور - شاعر و نویسنده هندی - آغاز، و در دوازده فصل، که همه حالت گزارش نویسی دارند ادامه مییابد. ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    A 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Written in Bengali and translated into English in 1919 by the author’s nephew. I think of poetry as almost impossible to translate well, but the beauty of his language does come across. I'm glad that read Tagore. On one level, the story is a love triangle. It’s a shame that Bimala didn’t have a friend to talk her out of having anything to do with Sandip. She had that guy sized up before she e A 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Written in Bengali and translated into English in 1919 by the author’s nephew. I think of poetry as almost impossible to translate well, but the beauty of his language does come across. I'm glad that read Tagore. On one level, the story is a love triangle. It’s a shame that Bimala didn’t have a friend to talk her out of having anything to do with Sandip. She had that guy sized up before she ever met him. I had seen Sandip Badu’s photograph before. There was something in his features which I did not quite like. Not that he was bad-looking—far from it” he had a splendidly handsome face. Yet, I know not why, it seemed to me, in spite of all its brilliance, that too much of base alloy had gone into its making. The light in his eyes somehow did not shine true. That was why I did not like it when my husband unquestioningly gave in to all his demands. I could bear the waste of money; but it vexed me to think that he was imposing on my husband, taking advantage of friendship. His bearing was not that of an ascetic, nor even of a person of moderate means but foppish all over. Love of comfort seemed to…any number of such reflections come back to me today, but let them be. But no, her only confidant was her husband. And, well… There she is stealing from her loving husband because her boyfriend asked her to do so. It’s like a knife in her guilty heart when loyal household members bring their small treasures to protect from the thief. “I got these at your wedding,” said the milk-woman, while handing her a box with a Benares sari and some other valued things. On another level, this is a morality play about the Swadeshi movement for Indian independence. Husband, Nikhil is an educated, aristocratic landlord. He is nonviolent and politically moderate. He is too practical for revolutionaries to burn foreign products He is willing to import Indian made yarn to sell in his market, but to practical to boycott foreign imports. He is also, aware that independence should not mean isolation. Boyfriend, Sandip is a charismatic pro-independence professional revolution. He lobbies for the boycott of British goods and burning of western products. His instigations generate an awfully lot of violence for a non-violent movement. And, I couldn’t help but notice that he skivvied off when things went horribly wrong. Bimala is the colonized home country that they compete for. With that as a reference, Sandip thinks of Bimala as fruit to be taken. It is only too clear how she wants me, and so I look on her as quite legitimately mine. The fruit hangs on the branch by the stem, but that is no reason why the claim of the stem should be eternal. Ripe fruit cannot for ever swear by its slackening stem-hold. All its sweetness has been accumulated for me; to surrender itself to my hand is the reason of its existence, its very nature, its true morality. So I must pluck it, for it becomes me to make it futile. While devoted and caring husband, Nikhil encourages her to learn and to experience the world within the protection of their marriage. Bimala chooses the corrupting thief. She repents her choice and crime, but retribution falls. I can see why he won a prize from colonial Europe. There may be other levels, but those are the most obvious. There's a lot here for a slim little volume. I thought Kavita Daswani was exaggerating in For Matrimonial Purposes, but here it is again. Everyone considers Bimala ugly solely because she’s dark skinned.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aishu Rehman

    Exceptionally remarkable! .brilliant, complex novel where the three characters take turns telling the story from their own point of view, beautiful political and moral parallel to the struggles and conflicts India underwent in the days of upheaval against the British Empire. Tagore is magnificent.

  4. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Sir Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. He was the first non-European and so far, the only Indian to be awarded this most prestigious award any literary artist can dream of. Bimala (means without mal or blemish in Hindu) is married to Nikhil or Nikhilesh (Lord of the Universe). Theirs is an arranged marriage that was planned even when Bimala was still a little girl. Bimala is neither good-looking, i.e., she comes from lower status and darker complexion, nor rich. Nikh Sir Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. He was the first non-European and so far, the only Indian to be awarded this most prestigious award any literary artist can dream of. Bimala (means without mal or blemish in Hindu) is married to Nikhil or Nikhilesh (Lord of the Universe). Theirs is an arranged marriage that was planned even when Bimala was still a little girl. Bimala is neither good-looking, i.e., she comes from lower status and darker complexion, nor rich. Nikhil on the other hand, comes from a rich family, peace-loving and passive. Nikhil has a handsome, aggressive and charismatic friend, Sandip who is the leader of the Swadeshi movement. This movement was part of the many others, e.g., the non-violence movement of Mahatma Gandhi being the most famous, that comprised the India Independence Movement that strived to end the British rule in India in the early part of the 19th century. Bimala falls in love with Sandip for his zeal, ambition and sex appeal. Nikhil releases her but then she finds out Sandip’s true color. The book is composed of several chapters, each of them is narrated by either one of the three major characters that reminded me of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929) minus Benjy, its retardate character. Rather, the 3 narrators perfectly give their views on what’s going on around them, from what goes on inside their homes, within community and even in the nation as a whole. Like Salman Rushdie’s masterpiece Midnight’s Children (1981) this book, The Home and the World shows a detailed presentation of India during its fight for independence from British colonizers. However, if Rushdie was able to present the macro as well as the micro views of this fight for independence through the events that lead to a nation in turmoil and how his characters react to them , Tagore chose to focus on his characters’ own turmoil in relation to the changing environment and the opposing forces present in it: the new and old, realism and idealism, the means and the end, good and evil within India and Southern Asia. The narration is lyrical and personal. The plot is thin and simple yet plausible and full of meaning. You will have to stop once in a while to savor his thought-provoking phrases. My favorite aspect of the novel is the remarkable transformation of Bimala from a traditional woman to an awakened citizen who contributes to the movement. To give you examples of Tagore’s prose and to illustrate Bimala’s transformation, here are her descriptions of herself at the various points in the story: BEGINNING: (as a dutiful traditional wife) “I would cautiously and silently get up and take the dust of my husband’s feet without waking him, how at such moments I could feel the vermilion mark upon my forehead shining out like the morning star”. MIDDLE: (as a person supporting the movement) ” I was no longer the lady of the Rajah’s house, but the sole representative of Bengal’s womanhood .” END: (after being fooled by her lover) "I could not think of my house as separate from my country: I had robbed my house, I had robbed my country. For this sin my house had ceased to be mine, my country also was estranged from me" A couple of years ago, a smart GR friend commented that he hadn’t read an Indian novel, either set in India, written by Indian or Indian-American novelist, that did not have anything to do with poverty. Arundathi Roy’s The God of Small Things, Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance or even Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup. They all revolve around the fact that there are problems because the protagonist(s) is poor. The Home and the World or GHARE BAIRE (when its movie adaptation was shown in Cannes 1988) centers on the ideological personal beliefs of the characters and poverty is not really the main or even the secondary issue. I am glad that I have read a Tagore. It changed my perspective on Indian novels and showed me a firmer grasp on what it took for the Indian people to gain their independence.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    "I am willing to serve my country, but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.” "To tyrannize for the country is to tyrannize over the country” How much can present day ultra-nationalists learn from him! The infatuation of a married woman for her husband's friend aside, this book tries to bring out the pros and cons of then prevailing tools used by freedom fighters. Were those tools, emotionally attractive "I am willing to serve my country, but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.” "To tyrannize for the country is to tyrannize over the country” How much can present day ultra-nationalists learn from him! The infatuation of a married woman for her husband's friend aside, this book tries to bring out the pros and cons of then prevailing tools used by freedom fighters. Were those tools, emotionally attractive as they were, really effective? Who really bore the price for those satyagrahas? And most importantly, can a moment that includes mostly young volunteers be long expected to stay non-violent? Aren't some of them motivated by personal greed and need for glory? Tagore was the one who gave the title of Mahatma to Gandhi (the later returned the favour by calling him 'Gurudev') but it seems he was critical of later opinions. While Gandhi's ideal was localisation of government to village level. Tagore believed that even nationalism wasn't the end but only a step towards to something bigger. In this book too, the victory belonged to one who acted rationally rather than blindly pursuing ideal of nationalism. And such beautiful prose that you know it is a poet writing it: “that which is eternal within the moment only becomes shallow if spread out in time.” “But when physical appearance evades the scrutiny of our senses and enters the sanctuary of our hearts, then it can forget itself. I know, from my childhood's experience, how devotion is beauty itself, in its inner aspect.” “Purity, they imagined, was only becoming in those on whom fortune had not smiled. It is the moon which has room or stains, not the stars."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    A simple story in appearance that could call many comments and digressions. Three main characters confront each other: 1 a Maharaja imbued with traditional wisdom but open to the world, 2 a woman whom he loves and to whom he offers freedom so that she can learn to know herself and to discover the world, 3 and a political leader, embodying the rise, cynicism and extremism of the present times. The woman, rich in the freedom offered by the one, will fall in love with the other, who embodies in her eye A simple story in appearance that could call many comments and digressions. Three main characters confront each other: 1 a Maharaja imbued with traditional wisdom but open to the world, 2 a woman whom he loves and to whom he offers freedom so that she can learn to know herself and to discover the world, 3 and a political leader, embodying the rise, cynicism and extremism of the present times. The woman, rich in the freedom offered by the one, will fall in love with the other, who embodies in her eyes the power and the will, as opposed to her husband who seems far too timid. The Home and the World, perhaps as an opposition between interiority and externality, intimacy and public life, philosophy and action. It is all along the confrontation to the world, lived as a test revealing the "deep nature" of each.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elena Holmgren

    Reading Tagore's work as a Westerner, I am always reminded of the importance of caution. That is, I must be careful to not be too attached to the certainties I usually attach to my criteria for evaluation. When the author invites me to paint a picture, under his guidance, out of the materials of my mind, and I feel a certain resistance to even get started before recoiling, judging such a picture to be quite categorically in “bad form,” I must be cautious, and willing to question myself. Caution Reading Tagore's work as a Westerner, I am always reminded of the importance of caution. That is, I must be careful to not be too attached to the certainties I usually attach to my criteria for evaluation. When the author invites me to paint a picture, under his guidance, out of the materials of my mind, and I feel a certain resistance to even get started before recoiling, judging such a picture to be quite categorically in “bad form,” I must be cautious, and willing to question myself. Caution invites self-criticism, as well as the openness to seeing one's standpoint with reserve, as if temporarily suspended from it. I feel the whole issue about Tagore's approach to characterization here is one such issue that has more to do with paradigm difference than with an intrinsic lack of genius. After all, our aesthetic orientation is born of our ontology, with its corollary phenomenology (or culturally standard mode of interpreting and giving shape to experience). Allegory has been out of fashion here in the West for some time. Modern aesthetic dogma deems allegory “unnatural” - though we forget that standard pictures of nature do very much differ with culture and with the array of possible philosophical orientations each cultural system of representation allows. When pictures of nature change, so does the aesthetic sense of “naturalness.” The problem, as usual, is that we tend to turn our pictures of nature into dogmas, mistaking them for the only valid orientation vis-a-vis nature (hence why self-proclaimed naturalists and realists often seem more dogmatic than most intellectuals: nature must at all costs be trimmed to fit their picture of it). We forget that our naturalism isn't the only naturalism. I'd wager that, for Tagore, allegory may well seem a more wholesomely “natural” way of depicting character than that of the standard Western "naturalist" canon. To begin to try to reconstruct in imagination and affect alike, as a Westerner, how this is possible would perhaps require an effort to remember – that is, to recall that the West, too, once portrayed individuals in relation to allegorical types. So what kind of view of nature does allegory reveal? IMO, you don't even need special insight into the particularity of Bengali culture to answer THAT basic question, which opens the door to Tagore's worldview, and hence, to his sensibility. Allegory, in its basic logic, connects the individual to a universal pattern, and sees the individual in terms of that universal: as an instatiation thereof. Allegory as an aesthetic device implies an ontology in which the essence of the individual IS its location in the ontic Logos (in Charles Taylor's words, or, to put it in more humanly understandable terms, in a meaningful cosmic order). The key to understanding this approach to characterization is the realization that every one of Tagore's characters is both individual and archetype, and, he seems to insist, is an individual all the more so BECAUSE s/he is an archetype. So Nikhil is the voice of universalism, reason, and humanism (but also something much more fundamental than humanism, which relates the individual not merely to the human race, but also to the universe, as he describes in Sadhana). Sandip is the intransingent revolutionary principle of creation-by-destruction; he exists to give voice and embodiment to a materialism so voided out of all value, meaning and feeling as to slide into the demonic. And Bimala is the radically Other – Other even from herself (though I don't think Tagore's compassion for her extended so far as to realize her as such). She is Mother Nature, but a Nature without form; she is putty and canvas for the ideas of the two Subjects: Sandip and Nikhil. Her own feeling of herself is an echo of, and sometimes a comment on, their feeling of her. Each character is an individual BECAUSE they give voice to their correlative principle, which defines a way of being human in relation to the world (except for Bimala, who never entirely rises to full subjectivity). Just as each individual is an archetype, so is the political moment depicted in archetypal terms. Thus, the book is more than a comment on the unique historical moment represented by the Swadeshi movement. BECAUSE Tagore is adopting the allegorical mode, he is using insight into his particular time in order to transcend to an insight into the invarying structure of the human condition itself: the particular becomes an instantiation of a universal principle. Thus, the conflict between Nikhil and Sandip over Bimala can never become "irrelevant," as much as we should wish to ward it off and shove it into a neat little box of untransportable historical curiosities. The fact that the inflamed, righteous Sandip - with his peerless knack for turning egotistical impulse into universal ethical principle - always wins in politics, but with devastating consequences, is a fact about human nature that is not likely to change wherever you go, and whatever "progress" occurs in our structuring of institutions. Tagore's modernity, rationalism, universalism, and humanism make contemporary politics (and I am speaking about here in the West – I can't really speak for the rest of the world as global politics isn't my forte) seem medieval in comparison. “I am willing to serve my country, but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.” This statement speaks for itself as to why. I would also suggest that perhaps we have something to learn from Tagore's more timeless, archetypally grounded picture of nature and character, which he was, for all his modern innovation, bravely keeping alive in spite of the obviously changing tide of the times. Consider the view such a passage reveals: “If one had to fill in, little by little, the gap between day and night, it would take an eternity to do it. But the sun rises and the darkness is dispelled- a moment is sufficient to overcome an infinite distance.” To see the moment as a confluence of eternities... My mind being grafted on the Western tradition, this passage made me think of Whitehead's thought: “The foundation of reverence is this perception, that the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.” But this insight, too, is all in Tagore's Sadhana, which I think anybody should read before reading his fiction, as you can use the ideational scaffolding as a support when you wade into the sea of phenomena as he shows them to you in his fiction. It is this insight, this mode of description here, that to me, best exemplifies the uniqueness of Tagore's way of seeing, his worldview – or at least, the worldview as it gained expression in his unique genius. My advice is to use the philosophy to guide you in the art, and to try to be more curious and a bit more willing to see yourself as a reader from the outside-in, as much as you can. Otherwise, Tagore's world will remain for you a garden seen through a foggy window.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0857wv3 Description: A vivid, powerful and compelling story of love, power and political awakening. Tanika Gupta updates Rabindranath Tagore's classic novel to a contemporary British Muslim context. Nusrat arrives in the UK from Pakistan to marry Nabeel, a wealthy, progressive and educated businessman. Fearful of the wider society, Nusrat locks herself away in the house reading newspaper articles that only serve to heighten her concerns. Nabeel encourages Nusrat to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0857wv3 Description: A vivid, powerful and compelling story of love, power and political awakening. Tanika Gupta updates Rabindranath Tagore's classic novel to a contemporary British Muslim context. Nusrat arrives in the UK from Pakistan to marry Nabeel, a wealthy, progressive and educated businessman. Fearful of the wider society, Nusrat locks herself away in the house reading newspaper articles that only serve to heighten her concerns. Nabeel encourages Nusrat to broaden her horizons and to enter the outer world as he believes that only then will they know if their love is true. When, at Nabeel's insistence, Nusrat attends a public meeting led by Nabeel's university friend Sultan, a charismatic leader of a charity that Nabeel funds, Nusrat's eyes are opened to the potential for action and change. Both a romantic-triangle story and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution 'The Home and the World' was originally set in British Colonial India in 1908 at the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods. Gupta reimagines the story transposing it to an unnamed Northern British town in 2016, where anger and resentment against Islamophobia is thriving. Young Muslim men and women search for a sense of belonging, a cause and a way to make their voices heard. The central philosophical questions of Tagore's novel resonate strongly with current events.

  9. 4 out of 5

    S.Ach

    If "Timelessness" defines whether a book is a classic or not, then "Ghare Baire" or "The Home and The World" is in true sense a great Classic. Before this book, 'Chokher Bali' was the only other novel that I had read of Tagore, and can't say I was too impressed with it. But, this book was just revelation to me what a radical thinker Tagore was. It has been 100 years since the book was written, during the days of 'Swadesi Movement', Indian uprising against the British, transition of the tradition If "Timelessness" defines whether a book is a classic or not, then "Ghare Baire" or "The Home and The World" is in true sense a great Classic. Before this book, 'Chokher Bali' was the only other novel that I had read of Tagore, and can't say I was too impressed with it. But, this book was just revelation to me what a radical thinker Tagore was. It has been 100 years since the book was written, during the days of 'Swadesi Movement', Indian uprising against the British, transition of the traditional to the modern, Hindu-Muslim Rich-Poor conflicts. But the book is as relevant today as it was then. The book tales the story of three contrasting characters, narrated all in first-person, about their convictions, confusions and realizations. A nationalist who holds "being might" above "being right", a rationalist who questions the common beliefs and a liberated woman who struggles between her lust for a spirited man, fighting the social prejudices and her admiration for her righteous husband. The sections dealing with the debate between "rationalism" and "nationalism" are extremely relevant to today's world, especially now when there is a sudden emergence of overt fundamentalism in many places. With the first-person narratives Tagore tries to avoid any kind of bias, but his inclination towards rationalism against the strong sense of patriotism could be easily sensed. "What I really feel is this, that those who cannot find food for their enthusiasm in a knowledge of their country as it actually is, or those who cannot love men because they are men, – whose needs must shout and deify their country in order to keep up their excitement, – those love excitement more than their country. To try to give our infatuation a higher place than Truth is a sign of inherent slavishness. Where our minds are free we find ourselves lost. Our moribund vitality must have for its rider either some fantasy, or someone in authority, or a sanction from the pundits, in order to make it move. So long as we are impervious to truth and have to be moved by some hypnotic stimulus, we must know that we lack the capacity for self- government. Whatever may be our condition, we shall either need some imaginary ghost or some actual medicine-man to terrorize over us." Pongalswamy said, "You 'Adarsh Liberals' believe in an utopian world which is not realistic at all." I asked, "Doesn't pragmatism somehow hinder imagination?"

  10. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    In 1913, Tagore became the first non-Western writer--and to date the only Indian or Bengali--to with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Reading his work, it isn't very difficult to imagine why, since they possess a Chekhovian focus on the lives, thoughts, and struggles of small people in a large world, all laid against the changing politics of the time. Yet the structure left something to be desired: Tagore writes in the first person, but switches characters every few chapters. this could have been In 1913, Tagore became the first non-Western writer--and to date the only Indian or Bengali--to with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Reading his work, it isn't very difficult to imagine why, since they possess a Chekhovian focus on the lives, thoughts, and struggles of small people in a large world, all laid against the changing politics of the time. Yet the structure left something to be desired: Tagore writes in the first person, but switches characters every few chapters. this could have been interesting and effective, perhaps giving a Rashomon-type view that shows how different people view the same events differently--but that isn't what we get. Rather, between descriptions of the action, we are given these internal soliloquies that explain each character's thoughts, motivations, and desires. A big part of what made Chekhov so impressive as an author was the way he showed the internal lives of his characters through their actions. Though it was rare for them to openly express what they felt or thought, you always understood from how they presented themselves, or what the didn't say, what was on their mind. Of course, that is a technique available only to master writers, but perhaps that is the sort of writer who should be receiving a Nobel Prize. There are some quite lovely passages, and a number of effective metaphors and symbols throughout which demonstrated that Tagore is insightful and imaginative, but the blatant way ideas and characters were explained to the audience made the story much less intriguing, for me. It was something akin to being cornered at a party by a number of dull, selfish people and then listening to them explain their lives, thoughts, and relationships at length. It left me feeling that a naturalistic story deserves a more naturalistic approach.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mohit Parikh

    The Home and the World is a literary masterpiece by Rabindranath Tagore. Set as a love triangle in the backdrop of Swadesi movement in the then Bengal, it is essentially an exploration of the noosphere surrounding the revolution, encapsulating Tagore's personal critique on the movement's ideology. All the three central characters of the novel are distressed, while treading their paths for greatness. Bimala is a young wife who seeks greatness (which every "woman is entitled to") through utmost dev The Home and the World is a literary masterpiece by Rabindranath Tagore. Set as a love triangle in the backdrop of Swadesi movement in the then Bengal, it is essentially an exploration of the noosphere surrounding the revolution, encapsulating Tagore's personal critique on the movement's ideology. All the three central characters of the novel are distressed, while treading their paths for greatness. Bimala is a young wife who seeks greatness (which every "woman is entitled to") through utmost devotion and surrender, and she finds the cause in the passionate desires of her husband's friend and in the nationalist movement. Nikhil, a rich businessman and Bimala's husband, is a noble soul who seeks to be just by abiding to his spiritual principles while he is being denounced as a traitor by the countrymen. Sandip is Nikhil's childhood friend and local leader of the nationalist movement who falls in love with Bimala. He seeks glory through power and material success, and considers restraint as a sign of weakness. Each of the three characters narrate their trials and tribulations in first person in long monologues ('tell, not show'). While this style takes some time getting used to, by the time one finishes the book it becomes clear that Tagore could not have invented a more suitable technique for narration. There is but only a minimal tangible action and the central drama of the story unfolds within the characters, slowly and turbulently... and giving three distinct perspectives for the readers to brood on. With fluency and lyric Tagore turns the characters inside out... something inconceivable for me as a writer just yet. The crux of the novel lies in the philosophical debates (illusion v/s truth, pragmatism/materialism v/s spiritual idealism, passion v/s virtues) it is rich with. They are relevant and enthralling, and raise important questions that are applicable for all such expeditions. Having been raised to sing Bande Mataram with supreme pride (and seeing the recent political dramas in the country), I find the book unique and extremely important for this generation, and the next. Can't wait to watch Satyajit Ray's cinematic adaptation!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    an amazing view of swadeshi in the early 1900s India. The three sotries being told seem to reflect the higher consciousness (Nikihl), the concious (Bimala) and the lower conciousness (Sandip). True Bimala loses her way to sensationalism, terror and nationalism but at some point you must pay the piper to your higher self and reflect at some point, Bimala of course does. I loved that Tagore tells the story from three points of view and is able to captuer the voice of Bimala so clearly. This should an amazing view of swadeshi in the early 1900´s India. The three sotries being told seem to reflect the higher consciousness (Nikihl), the concious (Bimala) and the lower conciousness (Sandip). True Bimala loses her way to sensationalism, terror and nationalism but at some point you must pay the piper to your higher self and reflect at some point, Bimala of course does. I loved that Tagore tells the story from three points of view and is able to captuer the voice of Bimala so clearly. This should be required reading in times of extreme patriotism so we can learn a lesson, albeit fictional, from history.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    My best exposure to non-Western literature comes courtesy of Egypt's authors. In comparison to them I was rather disappointed by Midnight's Children, about India. But when I read this short novel by Tagore I encountered a Bengali author capable of matching Naguib Mahfouz, although writing about completely different subjects. If this sounds too esoteric to readers in search of good writing who haven't yet ventured into non-Western literature, it's my way of saying simply to read this book. You'll My best exposure to non-Western literature comes courtesy of Egypt's authors. In comparison to them I was rather disappointed by Midnight's Children, about India. But when I read this short novel by Tagore I encountered a Bengali author capable of matching Naguib Mahfouz, although writing about completely different subjects. If this sounds too esoteric to readers in search of good writing who haven't yet ventured into non-Western literature, it's my way of saying simply to read this book. You'll be glad you did.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    My sole familiarity with Tagore's works were singing the national anthem and reading some down-scaled translated version of 'Kabuliwalah', both during school days. But watching 'Stories By Rabindranath Tagore' interpreted by Anurag Basu in an unique manner, on Netflix, aroused my curiosity. The man did contribute a chunk to India's literary heritage, after all! So, the story is about three people: Bimala, her husband, Nikhil, and her lover, Sandip. But it's not really. The backdrop is the Swadesh My sole familiarity with Tagore's works were singing the national anthem and reading some down-scaled translated version of 'Kabuliwalah', both during school days. But watching 'Stories By Rabindranath Tagore' interpreted by Anurag Basu in an unique manner, on Netflix, aroused my curiosity. The man did contribute a chunk to India's literary heritage, after all! So, the story is about three people: Bimala, her husband, Nikhil, and her lover, Sandip. But it's not really. The backdrop is the Swadeshi movement in India that was aimed at boycotting British goods and reviving Indian industry. The story is basically a treatise against nationalism and fanaticism, something that India can relate to deeply even today. Issues about caste discrimination arise even during the nationalist movement. Relate to it yet? And there is cow vigilantism! It is as if nothing has changed since the last hundred years in this country. This slim novel should resonate soundly with people even today since some of the issues discussed in it are still relevant to our society. But the story itself I found rather dragging and Tagore certainly employed purple prose to full effect. The characters were uninteresting and I was unable to merely see them as vehicles for the underlying message. The monologues and dialogues became tiresome after a while. It was as if Tagore was unable to shake off his poet's garb when writing this novel. Despite relating deeply to what the author has to say, I actually found reading this book rather boring. I am rating for the story, not the message, as usual.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    "What if I am unworthy? The true value of love is this, that it can ever bless the unworthy with its own prodigality. For the worthy, there are many rewards on Gods earth, but God has specially reserved love for the unworthy. "- Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World, 41 This is a love story, but by no means a conventional one. It begins nine years after the marriage of our star-crossed lovers, Bimala and Nikhil. Bimala has become totally complacent to be just a housewife. She views herself "What if I am unworthy? The true value of love is this, that it can ever bless the unworthy with its own prodigality. For the worthy, there are many rewards on Gods earth, but God has specially reserved love for the unworthy. "- Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World, 41 This is a love story, but by no means a conventional one. It begins nine years after the marriage of our star-crossed lovers, Bimala and Nikhil. Bimala has become totally complacent to be just a housewife. She views herself as an inherently unworthy vessel for Nikhil's love. It becomes incredibly frustrating to see how misconstrued her values are in the beginning. She thinks her inferiority complex translates to an inbred inferiority of all women. Enter Sandip, Nikhil's oldest friend. He knocks Bimala out of her old fashioned ideas, and stirs within her a knowledge of herself, her motherland and her attractions. The rest of the novel becomes an act of balancing her love for all three. What's more interesting than the romance is the political backdrop of the Swadeshi movement. Sandip, with his fire and his passion begins to represent very early in the movement as a whole. And with him, he brings a violent, fanatic following. As in one of my very favorite novels Song of Solomon, there's a major motif through the whole novel of the perpetuity of hatred, and why ultimately many love it. " I cannot but feel, again and again, that there are two persons in me. One recoils from Sandip and his terrible aspect of Chaos- the other feels that very vision to be sweetly alluring. The sinking ship drags down all who are swimming round it. Sandip is such a force of destruction. His immense attraction gets hold of one before fear can come to the rescue, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, one is drawn away, irresistibly, from all light, all good, all freedom of the sky, all air that can be breathed- from lifelong accumulations, from everyday cares- right to the bottom of dissolution"- Rabindranath Tagore, 178 The Home and the World draws the reader in with its hypnotic narrative. The three central characters are each given a voice throughout the novel. It becomes clear in a way unlike any other the very nature of their actions and motivations. Bimala is trying to find her life in the chaos of the Indian national movement. Nikhil is trying his best to give back to the world the good fortune he has encountered. And Sandip is creating havoc in his home. I cannot help but feel that Sandip is the weak point of an otherwise strong book. He becomes more of an Ayn Rand hero than a multi-dimensional character. I feel like Rupert Murdoch in sheep's clothing is an accurate description of his character. More symbol than man, Tagore wastes an opportunity for an actual view of both sides of Swadeshi. For use of language alone, though, The Home and the World is worth a read. Tagore has some of the most beautiful sentences in any translation I've read. It naturally inspires meditation on the text, and all the points he brings up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3: A vivid, powerful and compelling story of love, power and political awakening. Tanika Gupta updates Rabindranath Tagore's classic novel to a contemporary British Muslim context. Nusrat arrives in the UK from Pakistan to marry Nabeel, a wealthy, progressive and educated businessman. Fearful of the wider society, Nusrat locks herself away in the house reading newspaper articles that only serve to heighten her concerns. Nabeel encourages Nusrat to broaden her horizons an From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3: A vivid, powerful and compelling story of love, power and political awakening. Tanika Gupta updates Rabindranath Tagore's classic novel to a contemporary British Muslim context. Nusrat arrives in the UK from Pakistan to marry Nabeel, a wealthy, progressive and educated businessman. Fearful of the wider society, Nusrat locks herself away in the house reading newspaper articles that only serve to heighten her concerns. Nabeel encourages Nusrat to broaden her horizons and to enter the outer world as he believes that only then will they know if their love is true. When, at Nabeel's insistence, Nusrat attends a public meeting led by Nabeel's university friend Sultan, a charismatic leader of a charity that Nabeel funds, Nusrat's eyes are opened to the potential for action and change. Both a romantic-triangle story and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution 'The Home and the World' was originally set in British Colonial India in 1908 at the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods. Gupta reimagines the story transposing it to an unnamed Northern British town in 2016, where anger and resentment against Islamophobia is thriving. Young Muslim men and women search for a sense of belonging, a cause and a way to make their voices heard. The central philosophical questions of Tagore's novel resonate strongly with current events. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0857wv3

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cleo

    4.5 Stars ......... .5 Star Deduction for an irritating ending and a wee bit of excess with the characters.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracey the Bookworm

    There is a lot of depth to this slim volume. So much history and philosophy and beautifully written. A look at politics of the time and an age old basic tale of being duped by the one who makes the most noise. One worth reading again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Great read. I love historical literature like this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    MacK

    Tagore is markedly different from most contemporary Indian authors. While they offer a window for the Western world to observe the changing nature of a modernizing India, Tagore forces the reader to sit through a detailed lesson of the philosophical, and sociological life of an average Indian. Part of that is, naturally, the context in which he was writing. He is not part of modernizing India, but the nobel laureate who was Indian before the country was independent. He agitated against the coloni Tagore is markedly different from most contemporary Indian authors. While they offer a window for the Western world to observe the changing nature of a modernizing India, Tagore forces the reader to sit through a detailed lesson of the philosophical, and sociological life of an average Indian. Part of that is, naturally, the context in which he was writing. He is not part of modernizing India, but the nobel laureate who was Indian before the country was independent. He agitated against the colonial rule, he argued with Ghandi and he wrote the national anthem. His background as a poet is clearly on display here. Philosophical understandings that run shockingly deep are cast off with such poetic aplomb as to leave the reader savoring both the thought and the eloqution. It has all the wit of Wilde with none of the cynicism. Unfortunately, while the translation of these poetic passages leave the reader amazed at his style, the less poetic translations of plot and character development, render most of the book superfluous, instead encouraging a great deal of skimming while on the prowl for the next brilliant quote. Additionally, as informative as the lesson is, it is not always the most enjoyable thing to read. Poetically and philosophically engaging, yes; page turning, not so much.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shadab

    Rabindranath Tagore has done it again! Captured my heart and my mind. A human being who existed in a time long before mine raised some questions and penned down his thoughts, all of which are still so relevant today. I cannot get over this writing and the contents of his books. They leave me questioning so much and tangling with so many new ideas.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Val

    The book tells the story of Bimala and the two men in her life. She has been married to Nikhil for nine years. He is an enlightened, philosophical man, who encourages her to think for herself, look at the world and not be a subservient traditional wife only concerned with domestic details, but she is reluctant to do this. It was an arranged marriage but there is a great deal of love in it on both sides. Nikhil's contemplative nature can make him seem to lack passion for both his marriage and the The book tells the story of Bimala and the two men in her life. She has been married to Nikhil for nine years. He is an enlightened, philosophical man, who encourages her to think for herself, look at the world and not be a subservient traditional wife only concerned with domestic details, but she is reluctant to do this. It was an arranged marriage but there is a great deal of love in it on both sides. Nikhil's contemplative nature can make him seem to lack passion for both his marriage and the cause of independence, although this is not the case. The three characters all tell the story in their own way and Nikhil's parts are beautiful, poetic and heart-breaking. Bimala becomes fascinated with the fiery, passionate Sandip. She has few illusions about him, she sees that he is selfish, venal, cruel and dishonest, but he is also charismatic and an inspiring orator. What Sandip wants, Sandip takes, even if this is his friend's wife. Bimala despises herself but cannot resist him, whatever he tells her to do. I am not usually fond of books where the main female character abases herself for a domineering man, but in this case I think the point Tagore is making is that she is free to make her own choices even when they are bad ones. It is ironic that Bimala starts to take an interest in the wider world, not from Nikhil's encouragement, but through Sandip's dominance. There are parallels between Bimala, who represents India, and the political situation of the time. Lord Curzon's term as viceroy saw an increase in calls for independence or self-government. It is set against competing views held within that Indian independence movement. So here is an overview of the main groups within the movement at the time: The Home Rule for India League, later renamed the Commonwealth of India League and the India League, lobbied British MPs in support of self-government for India within the empire, or dominion status along the lines of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (and briefly Ireland and Newfoundland). Although all dominions (Commonwealth nations) have equal status with the UK, they were seen by some as still within Britain's sphere of influence. The Indian National Congress was not at first an independence movement, they campaigned for social reform and a greater role for educated Indians in the administration. (Complete independence was declared as the goal of the INC at the 1929 Lahore session.) The Swadeshi (self-sufficiency) movement was a form of economic protest which involved boycotting both British imports and British style products produced in India, and the revival of domestic products and traditional production processes. The All India Muslim League was a political party founded to secure the interests of the Muslims in British India. Some members later campaigned for the creation of a separate Muslim state. These groups were all non-violent and dedicated to effecting change through political means. There were also groups believing in armed revolution to achieve Indian independence, which were usually clandestine and underground revolutionary factions. These included India House based in London and several of varying militancy in Bengal.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kala

    I am positively nervous about writing this book review and that just shows how much I loved the book. I have read some extremely interesting books this year which evoked a lot of feelings, from paranoia to wanting to write an immediate dinner invitation. But this one, all I could feel was a deep veneration brought about by true joy. But only 30 pages in, I knew it would be one of my most memorable reads of the last years. I could not stop talking about it to my friends - whether they care about b I am positively nervous about writing this book review and that just shows how much I loved the book. I have read some extremely interesting books this year which evoked a lot of feelings, from paranoia to wanting to write an immediate dinner invitation. But this one, all I could feel was a deep veneration brought about by true joy. But only 30 pages in, I knew it would be one of my most memorable reads of the last years. I could not stop talking about it to my friends - whether they care about books or not, not unlike a school girl with a new crush. The story is set against the backdrop of the Swadeshi movement in the times of deep nationalism and patriotism in India and especially Bengal. Bimala, the heroine, is a traditional Indian woman who does not question her life being defined by how she fares as a wife and as a lady of the house. Nikhilesh, her husband, is an idealsitic, modern man who purports moral values and ethics above all. Their marriage works exceptionally well till his friend, Sandia, comes into picture. With his passion, boldness and idolatry, he manages to stir something in Bimala, who is attracted to his pomp and show opposed to her husband's sensible, modest demeanour. Tagore explores his own doubts and ambivalence about ideas, political and otherwise, through the characters. Nikhilesh's unshakeably morally superior being, whose arguments with Sandip's wholly pragmatic, passionate fervor form much of the philosophical debate of the book. Bimala is the malleable character who swings either way based on the time and situation, though Sandip's political passion towards his country and personal worship towards her are easier for her to sympathise with. The story is narrated by all three characters, alternating through the chapters. This is an interesting style and it ensured that their side of the story is told and I saw myself condone each character inspite of the flaws when they narrated their side. I like directness and simplicity in prose. But what Tagore wrote is poetry masquerading as prose. But I devoured it nonetheless. I was drawn to all his deviations to the imagery, metaphors and symbolism. The novel is full of literary and philosophical beauty and subtlety that left me just as much in awe as I felt when I first saw the mountains from up in the air, so elegant, so majestic and so breathtaking. There were several moments where I had to re-read entire passages to fully digest all that is being said. I will read more and all of Tagore's works in the next years and I recommend the same to anyone!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    This book resonated deeply. Though published 100 years ago, and as commentary on revolution in Bengal, the book speaks to freedom and government in a way that felt extremely relevant today. Here, characters debate whether the ends justify the means. Is it okay to lie or cheat if it's for the good of the country? For the country's people? Just who are the people who should benefit from the country anyway? The writing style is highly philosophical. The characters engage in long descriptions of thei This book resonated deeply. Though published 100 years ago, and as commentary on revolution in Bengal, the book speaks to freedom and government in a way that felt extremely relevant today. Here, characters debate whether the ends justify the means. Is it okay to lie or cheat if it's for the good of the country? For the country's people? Just who are the people who should benefit from the country anyway? The writing style is highly philosophical. The characters engage in long descriptions of their reasoning and how they feel about this or that argument. They sometimes argue with each other in dialogue, but often just in monologue. The story is told from three first-person perspectives -- two parties to an arranged marriage and a hanger-on of the husband turned revolutionary. I was so engaged with this book that I read it in two days. I think it merits rereading in a slower, more considered way, but I couldn't tear myself away from learning what would happen to these characters, particularly the young wife, Bimala. I'm so glad this popped up on a list of books for a task in a reading challenge. I'd never have found it otherwise.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    “Providence leaves our life moulded in the rough, – its object being that we ourselves should put the finishing touches, shaping it into its final form to our taste.” The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore is, I think, a classic. It is concerned with three little people, so small compared to the Indian indepedence movement whose current is swiftly carrying them into a new world. For each of the three main characters, Tagore goes to the heart and then some. Sandip is a professional revolut “Providence leaves our life moulded in the rough, – its object being that we ourselves should put the finishing touches, shaping it into its final form to our taste.” The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore is, I think, a classic. It is concerned with three little people, so small compared to the Indian indepedence movement whose current is swiftly carrying them into a new world. For each of the three main characters, Tagore goes to the heart and then some. Sandip is a professional revolutionary whose political and home-wrecking drives are essentially inseparable. Bimala is the true believer, trying to please, and be pleased by, both her husband Nikhil and her mentor Sandip. Nikhil is religious, wise, practical, against violence, interested in western culture, and just generally is not getting with the program. The situation has a friction about it that parallels the friction of the greater political events (hence the title). Tagore’s guts in expressing his political ambivalence amidst the turmoil of 1916 Bengal seems nothing short of heroic.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sonali Chakravorty

    The Home and the world was my first time with multiple voices as well as my first Tagore. In school I had shied away from reading Tagore because all the Bengali's near me fretted how the good Bengali books got lost in translation! Home and the world changed all that. Whether things got lost in translation I don't know, but, what stood out were the varying degrees of confusion faced by the three main characters. Especially the female character. She personified the factor that even if one fed on mo The Home and the world was my first time with multiple voices as well as my first Tagore. In school I had shied away from reading Tagore because all the Bengali's near me fretted how the good Bengali books got lost in translation! Home and the world changed all that. Whether things got lost in translation I don't know, but, what stood out were the varying degrees of confusion faced by the three main characters. Especially the female character. She personified the factor that even if one fed on modern or subversive notions, it is not easy to let go of the indoctrinated conditioning given to you by the society.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    This book was part of my last year's international reading marathon. It is the first novel from India I've read, first written in Bengali by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Unfortunately I'm reviewing this book a year later so I don't remember any details from the book, but for sure it's set in colonial India and it deals with tradition against modernity, religion against nationalism, the role of women, Indian history and many more. It reminded me a little bit of Cyprus when it was a British This book was part of my last year's international reading marathon. It is the first novel from India I've read, first written in Bengali by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Unfortunately I'm reviewing this book a year later so I don't remember any details from the book, but for sure it's set in colonial India and it deals with tradition against modernity, religion against nationalism, the role of women, Indian history and many more. It reminded me a little bit of Cyprus when it was a British colony as well. I have to read it again (and that explains why I liked it), before I can recommended it to other people.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Romina Claudia

    Such an amazing book! From all that I have read, only Tagore knows how to dance with the reader's heart in such a way. You will love him at the end of the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    In this allegory of the rise of nationalism in early 20th Century Bengal, Tagore combines haunting lyrical prose with an intellectual battle of ideas. Bimala is married to the wealthy and kind landowner Nikhil, and spends her time running his household and quarrelling with her sister-in-law. When she encounters Nikhil's friend Sandip, she is attracted by his Nationalist ideas and the passion of his arguments. In comparison, her husband's moderate rationalist approach seems weak and unappealing. In this allegory of the rise of nationalism in early 20th Century Bengal, Tagore combines haunting lyrical prose with an intellectual battle of ideas. Bimala is married to the wealthy and kind landowner Nikhil, and spends her time running his household and quarrelling with her sister-in-law. When she encounters Nikhil's friend Sandip, she is attracted by his Nationalist ideas and the passion of his arguments. In comparison, her husband's moderate rationalist approach seems weak and unappealing. Her infatuation blinds her to Sandip's cynicism until tragedy begins to close in on the family. The setting of this novel was fascinating, particularly the contrast between the peaceful life in the house and the turmoil caused by Sandip and his followers on the estate. Tagore shows arguments both for and against the swadeshi movement, as both Sandip and Nikhil share their political philosophies with the reader. This political turmoil is reflected in the emotional turmoil within the home. By entwining his arguments with a love triangle, Tagore ensures they remain relevant and don't become boring. His use of poetic language gives a melancholy feel to the narrative, and this is enhanced by references to Hindu religion and literature. There is always the sense that this small domestic tragedy is part of a wider battle between tradition and modernity, and the moulding of Bengal's future.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nivedita Bansal

    As soon as I finished reading, I wanted to read it all over again. I usually highlight text which I think is worth reading again and here I ended up highlighting almost everything. There’s so much in this read which you would like to think over that a single read will just not suffice. The story is set against the backdrop of Swadeshi movement in Bengal, a social movement started as a protest against the partition of Bengal during early 1900s, which involved boycotting British goods and promotin As soon as I finished reading, I wanted to read it all over again. I usually highlight text which I think is worth reading again and here I ended up highlighting almost everything. There’s so much in this read which you would like to think over that a single read will just not suffice. The story is set against the backdrop of Swadeshi movement in Bengal, a social movement started as a protest against the partition of Bengal during early 1900s, which involved boycotting British goods and promoting Indian industries. We all are aware of the importance of this movement and its impact on nation’s struggle for independence but this book focuses on its impact on common people especially the poor class and how they suffered in the name of Bande Mataram. It presents an interesting, insightful and different view of the darker side of this movement. The story revolves around three main characters, Nikhil- a well educated rich landlord with modern and liberal outlook, his childhood friend Sandip- a revolutionary and influential nationalist leader who came to stay with Nikhil and Nikhil’s wife Bimala- a faithful wife confined to the house but when encouraged by her husband, explores the outer world and becomes an active participant in the nationalist movement. I loved the way the story is being narrated by three main characters, giving the readers a chance to see the events from three different points of view. The emotions and inner conflicts of these characters have beautifully been explained with the help of metaphors. I especially liked the way the character of Bimala is portrayed with such sensitivity. The poor woman was too naïve and innocent to understand the selfish nature of Sandip and was carried away by his charismatic personality and his words, little realising where she is treading. Torn between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, home and outside world, Nikhil and Sandip, she couldn’t see what was coming. Soon she finds out Sandip’s true colors. In Bimala’s words, “When a woman’s passion is roused, she loses her sensibility for all that is outside it. When, like the river, we women keep to our banks, we give nourishment with all that we have: when we overflow them we destroy with all that we are.” With this realisation, she tries to do everything within her reach to set the things right and in the process reaches to a higher level of maturity and spiritual awakening. I absolutely adored Nikhil’s take on this whole matter. He was very much aware of Bimala’s obsession with Sandip but he never forced anything upon her, neither did he ask Sandip to leave his house. He believed that “If Bimal is not mine, she is not; and no fuming, no fretting, or arguing will serve to prove that she is. If my heart is breaking, let it break! This will not make the world bankrupt, nor even me; for man is so much greater than the things he loses in his life. The very ocean of tears has its other shore; else none would have ever wept.” He never used his power as a husband just because he had it, rather allowed her to experience the outer world through Sandip and stood behind her, ready to support her whenever she needed him. His love and sensibility won Bimala’s heart at the end. Nikhil and Sandip extremely differed in their ideas and strategies. Sandip believed that one must not hesitate to sacrifice even his conscience and shame to serve his country. In his words, “My theory of life makes me certain that the Great is cruel. To be just is for ordinary men, it is reserved for the great to be unjust. Whenever an individual or nation becomes incapable of perpetrating injustice it is swept into the dustbin of the world.” Whereas in Nikhil’s view winning such success was success gained at the cost of the soul and the soul is greater than success. He was strictly against violence and was considerate towards his fellow countrymen especially towards poor helpless people. He says “My worship for ‘right’ is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring curse upon it. Those who make sacrifices for their country’s sake are indeed her servants but those who compel others to make them in her name are her enemies. They would cut freedom at the root, to gain it at the top.” They had different opinions. For instance, On the role of Muslims: Sandip-“Muslims to be our brethren, we have come to realise that we shall never be able to bring them wholly round to our side. So they must be suppressed altogether and made to understand that we are the masters.” Nikhil- “If the idea of a united India is a true one, Muslims are a necessary part of it.” On the idea of representing India as a goddess: Sandip- “Illusions are necessary for lesser minds and to this class the greater portion of the world belongs. That is why divinities are set up in every country to keep up the illusions of the people, for men are only too well aware of their weakness.” Nikhil- “God is necessary to clear away our illusions. The divinities which keep them alive are false gods.” This way the novel shows the conflict between two ideologies and leaves it to the readers to decide ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. There’s a lot of philosophy but I must mention here that it should not be mistaken as a boring read full of speeches and metaphors. In fact it keeps the readers fully immersed with its elements of suspense and thrill. The plot is very engrossing and once you are midway through it, there’s no way putting it down. Even when you are finished reading, the characters are going to stay with you for a long time. I also watched the Bengali film adaptation by Satyajit Ray. Only he could have done justice to this book. Movie is equally beautiful and I liked it as much as I liked the book. Highly recommended.

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