ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Marxist and Feminist Theories and Women s Labour

Indian Group that "many Bengali bhadralok [in the 1890s] were unused to reading Bengali". Rabindranath's decision to set up Visva Bharati was not prompted by the 'mediocrity' of Calcutta University and established eduational institutions, but by the fact that these had to operate under the supervision of the education department of the British government. Similarly in Visva Bharati, Rabindranath was able to share his vision with a remarkable gathering of scholars and teachers coming from all parts of the country. The inspiration for Visva Bharati had its origin in the search for an indigenous system of higher education which would not, however, reject modern knowledge; this impetus which is an aspect of the national movement also contributed to the foundation of the National Council of Education, to the setting up of national institutions of scientific research, and to the development of scientific discourses in the Bengali language in the same historical period. The letter on Shriniketan (the centre for vocational training at Bolpur) written to Leonard Elmhirst (September 3, 1932) makes very clear the need he perceived for relating scientific pursuits to the lived life of the people in the locality, however 'low' and 'inept' it may be from the point of view of the elite. The editors, in my opinion, have to some extent overlooked how Rabindranath's vision even when it responded to the international situation, was shaped by the tensions of the lively political and cultural atmosphere in Bengal. It is a lopsided view which see Rabindranath as a misunderstood genius in his own country turning for sympathy to his friends abroad.' One of the difficulties of a selection like this is that the letters translated from Bengali are extremely selective. They get fewer towards the end. On the other hand, the English letters cover only some specific areas of Rabindranath's interest. As such, if these are meant to serve as an introduction to the poet for western readers, they are likely to go away with a very partial idea of this 'myriad-minded man' as the editors themselves call him. His continuous dialogue with the nationalists, his interest in the Soviet experiment, the connections that he saw in the 1930s between western capitalism and Fascism remain underemphasised in the selection.

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