Memoir of a Youth Well Spent
Rita Kothari
AMADER SHANTINIKETAN by Shivani Penguin/Vintage books, 2022, 184 pp., 499.00
October 2022, volume 46, No 10

Among the cultural elite of Gujarat, it was a common practice to hire Bangla tutors, visit Shantiniketan and read or translate Bangla into Gujarati. I was told this by Niranjan Bhagat who wrote his first poem the day Tagore died. From the late nineteenth century to this day, generations of Gujarati writers have translated Bangla literature, and a galaxy of individuals have been shaped from their time at Shantiniketan. Literary sensibilities are formed not only by what they receive from their language but the ebbs and flows of many other cultures making ‘originality’ a short-hand term for what is essentially a palimpsest of multiple and very often, subterranean formations. While Shantiniketan and Tagore cannot be separated in the enormity of influence they have had, my reflections through the review of a book is also about the loving and open gestures with which people from other regions approached the institutions of Bengal. We can’t say that the same happened in reverse, but that’s a separate conversation.

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