Reading Tagore: Seductions and Perils of Nationalism

Authors

  • Satish C. Aikant, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India

Abstract

Nationalism, implicated as it is in the modern imagination, is a deeply contested idea. So is nation – also referred to as an “imagined community†– which evolved as a sociopolitical institution, fairly recently, and which is characterised by either a unifying cultural signifier or an overarching ideology. Empirical studies reveal that the idea of nationalism often originates with the elite or with an aspiring middle-class, the rest of the society are appropriated into it. Tagore dismissed such nationalism as “the organised self-interest of a people,†which is “least human and least spiritual.†He saw it as a constant threat to humanity.

    This paper argues that Tagore’s diatribe against nationalism is a recurrent motif in all his writings and lectures. For him the nation is distinctively and exclusively Western. He developed an alternative conception of modernity which would take into account inclusive and synergic interaction between cultures that can take the world towards harmony and global fellowship.

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Author Biography

Satish C. Aikant, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India

Satish C. Aikant, currently Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, is Professor and Chair, Department of English at H.N.B. Garhwal University, Pauri. He has been a Visiting Professor at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He is a critic and a translator, and his writings on postcolonial literatures, literary theory and contemporary culture have appeared in a wide range of journals and books. His publications include Critical Spectrum: Essays on Literary Culture (2004).

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Published

2010-06-15

How to Cite

Aikant, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India, S. C. (2010). Reading Tagore: Seductions and Perils of Nationalism. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 4(1), 52–64. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/519

Issue

Section

Forum on Rabindranath Tagore, Asia’s First Nobel Laureate