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Week 9: Nationalism and Vernacular Print

Seminar Questions

  • Who were Rabindranath Tagore’s English audiences?
  • Why was Tagore awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature?
  • How did translation mediate Tagore’s literature and politics?
  • What kind of nationalism did Tagore promote through his publications?

Seminar Readings

** Tagore, Rabindranath, Gitanjali (Song Offerings) (London, 1913), vii-xxi, 1-17

** Presentation Speech by Harald Hjärne, Chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, on December 10, 1913

** Telegram from Rabindranath Tagore, read by Mr. Clive, British Chargé d'Affaires, at the Nobel Banquet at Grand Hôtel, Stockholm, December 10, 1913

* Williams, Louise Blakeney, ‘Overcoming the “Contagion of Mimicry”: The Cosmopolitan Nationalism and Modernist History of Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats’, The American Historical Review, 112 (2007)

Additional Readings


Tagore, Rabindranath, Nationalism (London, 1917)

Tagore, Rabindranath, The Gardener (London, 1913)

Tagore, Rabindranath, Crescent Moon (London, 1913)

Tagore, Rabindranath, The Home and the World (London, 1916)

Dutta, Krishna (ed.), Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore (Cambridge, 1997)


Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, Talking Back: The Idea of Civilization in the Indian Nationalist Discourse (New Delhi, 2012)

Blackburn, Stuart, Print, Folklore, and Nationalism in Colonial South India (New Delhi, 2006)

Chatterjee, Partha, Texts of Power: Emerging Disciplines in Colonial Bengal (Minneapolis, MN, 1995)

Dasgupta, Uma (ed.) The Oxford India Tagore: Selected Writings on Education and Nationalism (New Delhi, 2009)

Dutta, Krishna, and Andrew Robinson, Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man (London, 2008)

Ghosh, Anindita, Power in Print: Popular Publishing and the Politics of Language and Culture in a Colonial Society, 1778-1905 (New Delhi, 2006)

Gupta, Uma Das, ‘The Indian Press 1870-1880: A Small World of Journalism’, Modern Asian Studies, 11 (1977)

Hurwitz, Harold M, ‘Yeats and Tagore’, Comparative Literature, 16 (1964)

McDonald, Ellen E, ‘The Modernizing of Communication: Vernacular Publishing in Nineteenth Century Maharashtra’, Asian Survey, 8 (1968)

Nandy, Ashis, The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self (New Delhi, 1994)

Orsini, Francesca, Print and Pleasure: Popular Literature and Entertaining Fictions in Colonial North India (New Delhi, 2009)

Orsini, Francesca, The Hindi Public Sphere 1920-1940: Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism (New Delhi, 2002)

Pollock, Sheldon, ‘The Cosmopolitan Vernacular’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 57 (1998)

Sen, Amartya, ‘Tagore and His India’, Nobel Media AB,

Sen, Nabaneet, ‘The “Foreign Reincarnation” of Rabindranath Tagore’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 25 (1966)

Stark, Ulrike, An Empire of Books: The Naval Kishore Press and the Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India (New Delhi, 2007)

Thompson, E. P, ‘Alien Homage’: Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore (New Delhi, 2008)

Seminar Handout

Handout - Week 9

Seminar Powerpoint

Powerpoint - Week 9


Reception of Tagore extracts

Seminar Books


Edition binding of Tagore, Gitanjali (London, 1913)


Marks of ownership indicating copy of Gitanjali given as a gift from Indian independence activist Kesava Menon to a woman living in Hampstead, Gladys Mary Harrison, for Christmas 1913.

Crescent Moon

Edition binding of The Crescent Moon (London, 1913).


Book plate and borrowing card indicating this copy of The Crescent Moon was held by a Lancashire Education Committee County Library and was borrowed multiple times throughout the twentieth century. Tagore therefore had readers in Lancashire in the 1930s.

Crescent Moon

Title page and colour illustration (by Nandalal Bose) for The Crescent Moon (London, 1913).


Illustration by Asit Kumar Haldar for The Crescent Moon (London, 1913)

German edition

Edition binding (in paper boards) of the German edition of Gitanjali (Leipzig, 1914).

German Edition

Title page of the German edition of Gitanjali (Leipzig, 1914).

German editionPublisher information from the Gitanjali (Leipzig, 1914).

Italian editionTitle page of the Italian edition of Gitanjali (Lanciano, 1914)

French edition

French edition in paper edition binding of Gitanjali (Paris, 1917)