Home and the World (Redux)

Penguin India has reissued two classics by Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), the first Indian (or for that matter, Asian) to win a Nobel Prize. His "most ambitious work Gora unfolds against the vast, dynamic backdrop of Bengal under British rule, a divided society struggling to envisage an emerging nation. It is an epic saga of India’s nationalist awakening, viewed through the eyes of one young man, an orthodox Hindu who defines himself against the British colonialist culture and finds himself approaching his nationalist identity through the prism of organized religion. First published in 1907, Gora questions the dogmas and presuppositions inherent in nationalist thought like few books have dared to do. This new, lucid and vibrant translation brings the complete and unabridged text of the classic to a new generation of readers, underlining its contemporary relevance."

The other book is the less known Nationalism that is "based on lectures delivered by him during the First World War. While the nations of Europe were doing battle, Tagore urged his audiences in Japan and the United States to eschew political aggressiveness and cultural arrogance. His mission, one might say, was to synthesize East and West, tradition and modernity. The lectures were not always well received at the time, but they were chillingly prophetic. As Ramachandra Guha shows in his brilliant and erudite introduction, it was by reading and speaking to Tagore that those founders of modern India, Gandhi and Nehru, developed a theory of nationalism that was inclusive rather than exclusive. Tagore’s Nationalism should be mandatory reading in today’s climate of xenophobia, sectarianism, violence and intolerance. "