Gleanings of the Road – Rabindranath Tagore

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Translated from the Bengali original Pather Sanchoy by
Somdatta Mandal

“The soul always wants to travel, that is
its nature. It dies if it does not travel.
That is why it goes on moving either
for necessity or for pleasure. You have
seen the ducks that flock on the shoals
of the Padma. They leave their nests
that are located next to some lonely
lake encircled by the rugged Himalayan
peaks and after flying for many days and
nights they arrive on the sandy banks of
the Padma.”

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Travels formed an integral part of the personae and creative artist that was Rabindranath Tagore. During his travels to England and the USA (1912-13 and 1920) Tagore wrote essays for publication in various Bengali journals. In 1939, Tagore selected fourteen of these essays and an appendix containing seven letters he had written to some of the teachers in the Shantiniketan ashram while he was on these trips, for publication as a volume. Tagore rewrote the original essays then using the colloquial instead of the formal language; he also revised the texts substantially. Later editions altered the number of essays, sometimes digressing from Tagore’s own selection, sometimes going back to Tagore’s original formal language. The travelogue provides an insight into Tagore’s perception of the different facets of western life and the diverse philosophical issues that cross his mind as he journeys from one continent to another. Translated from Bengali for the first time, Pather Sanchoy would be of interest to all those who enjoy exploring unknown territories geographically and psychologically.

About the Translator

Somdatta Mandal is Professor and Head of English at the Department of English and Other Modern European Languages, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan. Having a teaching career that spans 32 years, she has held several administrative posts in the university. Paper-setter, examiner and adjudicator for doctoral dissertations across several universities in India and the SAARC nations, she has lectured widely in national and international fora. A recipient of several prestigious international fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Foundation, Charles Wallace Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute and Sahitya Akademi, her areas of interest are American literature, contemporary fiction, film and culture studies, diaspora studies and translation. She has published three books, five volumes of translation, edited and co-edited 22 books, published above 90 research articles in national and international journals and anthologies.
Somdatta Mandal has published translations of several travel narratives, among which are Krishnabhabini Das’s A Bengali Lady in England (2015); Wanderlust: Travels of the Tagore Family (2014); Durgabati Ghose’s The Westward Traveller (2010) and Hariprabha Takeda’s The Journey of a Bengali Lady to Japan and Other Essays (2017).


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