Rabindranath Tagore: Critic of the Enlightenment


  • Christine Marsh, University of Exeter, UK


Rabindranath Tagore was not only a poet – but what else was he during his life? What is his legacy? He insisted he was not a philosopher or scholar; he was only briefly a political leader. He lectured extensively on the future of his country and the world, and with his work on alternative education and rural reconstruction demonstrated an alternative path for society. It is argued in this essay that Tagore can best be understood as a critic of the European Enlightenment, comparable to Herder. Isaiah Berlin gave a lecture on Tagore during the centenary celebrations, and concluded that Tagore “tried to tell the complex truth without over-simplification, and to that extent was perhaps listened to the less†(Berlin, “Rabindranath Tagore and the Consciousness of Nationalityâ€). With the world on the edge of ecological and social collapse, it is time we listen to him now.


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Author Biography

Christine Marsh, University of Exeter, UK

After a business career as a systems analyst, Christine Marsh undertook research into global problems of land degradation, and then on alternative land use systems based on reviving local communities. Learning of Tagore’s work on rural reconstruction, she embarked on a study of his writings for her M.A. dissertation entitled: “The Village and the World: A Political Reading of Tagore’s Prose Fiction,†followed by her doctoral thesis: “Towards One World: A Journey Through the English Essays of Rabindranath Tagore,†for which she has been awarded Ph.D.  




How to Cite

Marsh, University of Exeter, UK, C. (2013). Rabindranath Tagore: Critic of the Enlightenment. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(1), 1–16. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/287