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The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore


The Home and the World (Bengali: ঘরে বাইরে - Ghôre Baire, lit. "At home [and] outside") is a 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore. The book illustrates the battle Tagore had with himself, between the ideas of Western culture and revolution against the Western culture. The novel is set in early 20th century India during the struggle for independence. The concept of "Swadeshi", a renewed appreciation of everything Indian and a denial of everything British, particularly British imported goods and grains, rages throughout the country, as a repressed citizenry wakes after a long slumber of indignities and patronization. However, Tagore also sounds a cautionary note on the dangers of aggressive nationalism.

Critical response was mostly positive, mainly lauding the remarkable transformation of the character Bimala from a traditional woman to an awakened citizen who contributes to the movement. Tagore, as always, succeeds through the human element which shines clear even at its most convoluted.

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  • Siddhartha

    I apologise I missed the meetup and was not able to change my RSVP in time. I had very much wated to go, but could not because of work. The meetup did get me to read the Bengali version of the book again. I have read the book once before and also have seen the film by Satyajit Ray several times, and would have loved to talk more about this. In terms of the social dimension, there are parallels with Ray's film Charulata (originally Tagore's story Noshtonir) - both explore the emergence of the modern woman in upper class of colonial India. Hope to join in the next meetup!

    July 31, 2013

    • Dennis T.

      Thanks for letting us know. Too bad you couldn't make it, we would've loved to hear about the movie.

      July 31, 2013

    • Siddhartha

      The film was one one of Ray's later masterpieces. A longfilm, but Victor Banerjee shone as Nikhil. On a different note, there has been criticism that Tagore did not point out the structural problems of the zamindari system in opposing the will of the common people, he instead focuses on the actions of one good zamindar. The fact is that neither the nationalists like Sandip nor the zamindars (who were limited by the system in which they operated in) could adequately represent the will of the ordinary people. Tagore himself was of a zamindari family. On the other hand, works of a later contemporary, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, talked about people's movements.

      July 31, 2013

  • Pat R

    Thank you John and Dennis and the rest of the group for a lively discussion.

    1 · July 31, 2013

  • John

    For background on India, "The Wonder That Was India" by A.L. Basham. The book is written for the ordinary Western reader without much knowledge on the subject. It describes pre-Muslim India to approx. 16 century AD.

    July 31, 2013

  • Jonathan B.

    I am a professor of English ed. at Teachers College; my class has been reading The Home and the World, and some students will be attending with me. Just interested in participating and hearing other voices as well!

    July 12, 2013

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