(better known as Tagore) was born in
Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for the
English version of his collection of Bengali poems, Geetanjali (an offering in
songs). His citation read that he was being awarded the prize “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh
and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic
thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the
honours and recognitions from all over the world and is remembered for
expressing and analyzing through his extensive literature all possible tenets
of human characters and emotions. This is why his work is and will continue to
remain relevant to us for times to come. Tagore’s philosophy and writings were
extremely important elements in the renaissance of Bengal and
Most of Tagore’s work was written at Santiniketan the small town that grew around the school he founded, and he not only conceived there an imaginative and innovative system of education, but through his writings and his influence on students and teachers, he was able to use the school as a base from which he could take a major part in India's social, political, and cultural movements. The profoundly original writer, whose elegant prose and magical poetry Bengali readers know well, is not the sermonizing spiritual guru. Tagore was not only an immensely versatile philosopher-poet; he was also a great short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and composer of songs, as well as a talented painter whose pictures, with their mixture of representation and abstraction, are only now beginning to receive the acclaim that they have long deserved. His essays, moreover, ranged over literature, politics, culture, social change, religious beliefs, philosophical analysis, international relations and above all, humanism.
1. Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore, edited by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson (Cambridge University Press, 1997). For important background material on Rabindranath Tagore and his reception in the West, please see also the editors' Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man (St. Martin's Press, 1995), and Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology (Picador, 1997).