Rabindranath Tagore and Patrick Geddes, the Correspondence
Visva-Bharati Press (India) and Edinburgh University Press (Scotland)
ISBN - 1-85933-203-X

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Geddes tagore CorrespondenceRabindranath Tagore is regarded by many as the greatest writer in modern Indian literature. A Bengali poet, novelist and educator, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was awarded the knighthood in 1915, but he surrendered it in 1919 as a protest against the Massacre of Amritsar, where British troops killed some 400 Indian demonstrators protesting colonial laws. Geddes produced town planning reports in Indore, Balrampur, Baroda, Conjeevaram, Lahore, Lucknow, Nagpur and Pinjaur before being appointed the first Professor of Civics and Sociology at Bombay University.

Bashabi Faser is the author of this new book chronicling the correspondence between Rabindranath Tagore and Patrick Geddes which she has compiled, edited and introduced. The letters show how these two men explored similar ideas on issues like education, international universities, the environment and rural reconstruction. The letters commemorate a beautiful friendship.

PG.CO.UK: Can you tell people who might not be familiar with Tagores work, a bit more about him and how he came into contact with Geddes?

Bashabi: Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his translation of 'Gitanjali'. He was a poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and song composer (having written about 300 songs). He established a whole new dance form called Rabindra Nritya, and was an accomplished artist, an educationist (founding his own school and International University, Visva-Bharati, both at Shantiniketan), an environmentalist, a rural reconstructionist, a political thinker and philosopher. What ever he wrote, he wrote well.

Geddes and Tagore definitely met face to face at the summer meeting in Darjeeling in 1917 but were already in correspondence before that. So they were probably introduced to each other between 1914-1915.

PG.CO.UK: It seems to me that Tagore was often misconceived as a mystic, when in fact he was more political than that, in the same way as Geddes was pigeonholed as a "town-planner" but he was more interested in poetics than is realised. Is that what you experienced?

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