Review: Young Tagore – The Makings of a Genius

Young_TagoreEarly in his study of the young Rabindranath Tagore, Sudhir Kakar quotes Rilke on Rodin: “It’s like holding a cup beneath a waterfall.” The waterfall is an unconsciously apposite image, given the way in which the overflowing spring is used by Tagore himself to represent an epipha­nic moment in his early adulthood, when he com­posed the poem The Fountain Awa­kes (Nirjharer Swapnabhanga).

For Kakar, who comes to Tagore not through long familiarity but through puzzlement and mistrust, understanding Tagore’s gen­­ius constitutes a process of self-­ana­lysis, as though he too had shared, at some point, in that epiphany. His book, constructed as a psychobiography of the young Tagore that excavates the springs of his genius, is therefore, above all, a sympathetic reading of the poet’s rec­ol­lections of childhood and youth, and his authorial testimony. Unburdened by the apparatus of formal psychoanalysis, it offers an account of Tagore’s early childhood, adolescence and young adulthood with which most readers will concur.

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