Selected Short Stories

Translation: William Radice


Rabindranath Tagore wrote almost 100 short stories of which 30 can be found in Selected Short Stories, with additional materials (a comprehensive introduction, biography, map, bibliography and appendices.) Texts from the 1890s, according to Tagore himself, represent the most interesting time in his prose writing.

The stories depict a daily life in Bengal, full of tension and conflicts, confrontations of old and new traditions, different approaches, dreams and realities. Tagore, with great empathy, writes about his characters: families divided by feuds, arranged marriages, kids and youths, the rich and the poor – the whole social spectrum. We’re amazed by the long and descriptive passages of landscapes and nature that can take the readers to the nineteenth century Bengal. For those, who may not be familiar with the culture, there’s a glossary. But Tagore describes the characters so perfectly that although you may not always understand or agree with their motives, you feel like you’re a part of the story.

Tagore’s attitude towards education is an interesting one: he strongly opposed the Western standards and learning things by heart for exams. Tagore started his own school where he realized his ideals: working on the harmony between a human and nature, self-awareness, taking care of your internal self – things that, even though more than 100 years passed by, we still lack. There are so many amazing moments in those stories, more romantic and idealistic than purely realistic. Sometimes we want to disconnect and follow our dreams just like Tarapada in Guest, who ran away before her wedding.

Selected Short Stories is a perfect collection not only for all the people interested in Indian literature but also lovers of shorter forms which Tagore mastered.

"Early monsoon clouds formed in the sky. The village-river had been dried up for weeks; there was water only in holes here and there; small boats lay stuck in these pools of muddy water, and the dry river-bed was rutted with bullock-cart tracks. But now, like Parvati returning to her parents' home, gurgling waters returned to the empty arms of the village; naked children danced and shouted on the river-bank, jumped into water with voracious joy as if trying to embrace the river; the villagers gazed at the river like a dear friend; a huge wave of delight rolled through the parched village. (…) Rustic smallness was temporarily subsumed by pride of contact with the world; everything became more active; the bustle of distant cities came to this sleepy region, and the whole sky rang. "

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