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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2011

CHAPTER 6 - Tinsangī. Tagore, Art and the Industrial Revolution


In the last chapter we refered to “Rabibār”, “Laboratory” and “Seş Kathā”, Tagore's three last stories, in the context of Tagore's thinking on the women's question in India. But it is possible to situate the stories in an altogether different and dissimilar context, that of Tagore's male engineers. This is the basic purpose of this chapter. These were the three ‘new-fangled’ stories that he started writing toward the end of his long and teleologically evolving literary career. There are strong reasons why we should take it up for a closer analysis in the first decade of the third millennium, when our technology is going to execute a leap from the wheel (whether driven by steam, power or nuclear energy) to chips. In his pathbreaking book Art and the Industrial Revolution, a famous art historian and dedicated Marxist, concluded: “In our nucleonic age, it is left to the historians to assess the achievements of coal and iron and steam and of the great artists who were concerned with its images”. We want to emphasize that Tagore was one of them, and refuse to put him in an anachronistic bucolic mould, as much of uninformed criticism has sought to do.

Of these companion stories “Seş Kathā” (“The Last Word”) came out in Śanibārer Cithi of Phalgun 1346 (February–March 1939); “Rabibār” (“Sunday”) was first published in the autumnal number of Anandabazar Patrika in Āśvin 1346 (September–October 1939); and ‘Laboratory’, was originally published in the autumnal issue of Anandabazar Patrika in Bangabda Āśvin 1347 (September–October 1940).