An Idealist on the Lectern: Rabindranath Tagore’s Lectures and Speeches in English
Abstract: Almost as soon as the English Gitanjali was published, Rabindranath Tagore found himself responding to countless invitations to give lectures and speeches in English on all sorts of topics around the world. The four volumes of The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore record fully the remarkable range of topics covered by Rabindranath in these lectures and speeches. They reflect his intense idealism, his unwavering commitment to humanism as well as his fervent belief in the world of the spirit. They reveal his passionate nature and remind us that he rose to the occasion time and again to critique nationalism and narrowmindedness and promote internationalism. What I propose to do in this paper is analyze these speeches to bring out their dominant themes and reveal their stylistic qualities, comment on their contemporary relevance and reception, and show how they are typical of the viswa-kabi or the universal poet, intent on bringing his message of unity and brotherhood to international as well as national audiences.
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Published in Fall 2010-11