Tagore gala begins in Spain with book, culture blitz

New Delhi: Perhaps a historic wrong was set right when Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore reconnected to thousands of admirers in Spain - one of the few countries in Europe to which he had called off his visit - with a new book.

The compendium, ‘Redescubriendo a Tagore (Rethinking Tagore)’, was released Monday. It is part of a larger project, Tagore in Spain, a celebration of his literature and performing arts in several cities in Spain and Costa Rica which begins this weekend.

It has been co-edited by Indranil Chakravarty, a professor of Film Appreciation at the Whistling Woods International Film Institute in Mumbai, and scholar S.P. Ganguly, professor of Spanish studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The editors said Tagore had remained popular in Spain despite his decline in popularity in the rest of the Western world after World War I, where he was seen as an Eastern mystical poet removed from the harsh realities of life.

"He was equally popular in Latin America due to the interest of many literary and socially activist figures," said Ganguly.

Tagore had said "the idea of Spain had such a deep attraction to my mind" that he wanted to come into an intimate touch with it.

But he cancelled a scheduled visit to the country in 1921 at the last moment with a telegram saying that "other important things had drawn him away", said Ganguly.

The Spanish government had been ready to welcome Tagore. Detailed preparations were made by Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez and his wife Zenobia Camprubi. But the visit was cancelled in spite of that.

"In that context, Tagore did a great injustice to Spain without realising it," Ganguly said.

The new book aims to revive Tagore in Latin American and Spanish speaking countries and re-introduce him as a humanist, poet, artist, musician and writer in these places.

"Tagore`s relevance is because of the resurgence of humanism in the contemporary world and Europe is now realising the value of his universalism."

The volume, a tribute to the poet on his 150th birth anniversary, was released at the Instituto Cervantes. It is a collaboration between the Embassy of Spain, the Spanish Cultural Centre and the Sahitya Akademi.

Chakravarty said, "Available translations of Tagore in Spanish add up to less than five percent of his literary output."

The book is a collectors` volume with 12 full-page colour reproductions of his paintings, music in Western notations and reflections and essays by scholars from Latin America and Spain.

A team of Indian scholars and performers will be travelling to Spain this week to promote his works and collaborate with students and scholars on his plays, music, poetry and dance dramas, some of it translated in Spanish, as part of the project.

"In the first Tagore celebration in Costa Rica, a school full of children are dressing up in Tagore T-shirts to recite his poem in Spanish in chorus," said Chakravarty.

Two movies, ‘Charulata’ and ‘Naukadubi’ based on his short stories and novel respectively, will be screened across the country.



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