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Glimpses of Bengal
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The letters translated in this book span the most productive period of my literary life, when, owing to great good fortune, I was young and less known.
Youth being exuberant and leisure ample, I felt the writing of letters other than business ones to be a delightful necessity. This is a form of literary extravagance only possible when a surplus of thought and emotion accumulates. Other forms of literature remain the author's and are made public for his good; letters that have been given to private individuals once for all, are therefore characterized by the more generous abandonment.
It so happened that selected extracts from a large number of such letters found their way back to me years after they had been written. It had been rightly conjectured that they would delight me by bringing to mind the memory of days when, under the shelter of obscurity, I enjoyed the greatest freedom my life has ever known.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), also known by the sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali poet, Brahmo Samaj philosopher, visual artist, playwright, novelist, and composer whose works reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A cultural icon of Bengal and India, he became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature. A Pirali Bengali Brahmin from Calcutta, Tagore first wrote poems at age eight. He published his first substantial poetry under the pseudonym Bhanushingho (Sun Lion). Tagore's works included numerous novels, short-stories, collection of songs, dance-drama, political and personal essays. Some prominent examples are Gora (Fair-Faced) (1910), Gitanjali (Song Offerings) (1912), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) (1919). His verse, short stories, and novels-many defined by rhythmic lyricism, colloquial language, meditative naturalism, and philosophical contemplation-received worldwide acclaim. His other works include The King of the Dark Chamber (1914), The Gardener (1915), Songs of Kabir (1915), Fruit-Gathering (1916), Stray Birds (1916), The Hungry Stones and Other Stories (1916) and Glimpses of Bengal (1920).