Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bengali And French

Rabindranath Tagore
Jean Racine

These thoughts about the genius of French occurred to me because it seemed to me that there was a marked analogy in this respect between French and Bengali. Certainly it would not be quite' correct to say that the evolution of the Bengali language was slow and steady like that of French. At least one upheaval, a revolution, has taken place on its coming into contact with Europe; under its influence our language and literature have taken a turn that is almost an about-turn. But this revolution was not caused by a single person. Dante and Homer are the creators, origina­tors or the peerless presiding deities of Italian and Greek respectively. Properly speaking Tagore may not be classed

Page – 177

with them. But just as Shakespeare may be said to have led the English language across the border or as Tolstoy made the Russian language join hands with the wide world or as Virgil and Goethe imparted a fresh life and bloom, a fuller awakening of the soul of poetry, to Latin and to German, so too is Tagore the paramount and versatile poetic genius of Bengal who made the Bengali language transcend its parochial character. I think that Tagore has in many ways the title and position of a Racine amongst us. There is a special quality, a music and rhythm, a fine sensibility of the inner soul of Bengal. Its uniqueness is in its heart; a sweet ecstasy, an intoxicating magic which Chandidas was the first to bring out in its poignant purity and which has been nourished by Bankim, has attained the full mani­festation of maturity, variety, intensity and perfection in Rabindranath. Here too an aspect of supreme elegance is found. Bengali, like French, has a natural ease of flow. Madhusudan took up another line and sought to bring in an austere and masculine element - à la Corneille. Some among the modern writers are endeavouring to revive that line and naturalise it; even then the soft elegance, the lyric grace so natural to the language has attained almost its acme in Tagore. To be sure, among us Tagore is the one without a second...READ FULL TEXT HERE

No comments: