Dr Chinmoy Guha conferred "Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite"

The honour came in recognition of his achievements for the French language, supporting Indo-French academic collaborations, and his steadfast commitment to nurturing cultural bonds between France and India.

Kolkata, 30 November 2019

The Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain, today conferred the insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre nationale du Mérite on Dr Chinmoy Guha, noted litterateur and professor, during a special ceremony at the Consulate General of France in Kolkata.

The honour came in recognition of his achievements for the French language, supporting Indo-French academic collaborations, and his steadfast commitment to nurturing cultural bonds between France and India.

Dr Chinmoy Guha (b. 1958 in Kolkata) is regarded as one of the most distinguished scholars of French in India and belongs to the heritage of the Renaissance in Bengal. He is a reputed scholar and translator of French language and literature, as well as a writer in the Bengali, English and French languages.

Professor of English and former Chairperson, University of Calcutta, he has served previously as Vice-Chancellor, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata; taught French at Alliance Française de Calcutta for eleven years (1987-1998); and been Director of Bureau du Livre, Embassy of France in India, New Delhi (1998-1999).

An essayist and critic, Guha has edited the book reviews of the prestigious Bengali literary magazine Desh and published more than 25 books, including Where the Dreams Cross: T S Eliot and French Poetry, Remembering Sartre, The Tower and the Sea: Romain Rolland-Kalidas Nag Correspondence 1922-1938, a new biography of Victor Hugo, and two anthologies of contemporary French poetry.

He has written on a wide range of subjects including the Nouveau roman and Sartre, and has translated into Bengali La Rochefoucauld’s Maxims, Flaubert’s Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues, André Gide’s Strait is the Gate and two anthologies of contemporary French poetry. He has translated the poetry of Apollinaire, Francis Ponge, Henri Michaux, René Char, Jacques Prévert, Blaise Cendrars, Benjamin Péret, Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard, Eugène Gullievic.

Guha has worked as DEA at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (for Humanities and Social Sciences), Paris in 2009 and 2014. He has also has researched and lectured at universities in various countries, including France, U.K., Switzerland, and Mauritius.

Guha is the recipient of the Lila Roy State Award for Translation (2008), the Derozio Bicentenary Award (2009) and the Swatantra Samman (2012). He has previously received the French Government distinctions of Chevalier des Palmes académiques (2010) and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (2013).

Address of H.E. Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Chers compatriotes,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you all at the French Consulate on the occasion of my maiden visit to Kolkata. I am looking forward to meeting you all. J’aurai plaisir, notamment, à échanger avec nos compatriotes installés au Bengale.

Cher Dr Guha, I could deliver this speech in French to do justice to your impeccable mastery of our language, but I am sure that you will agree with me, for the sake of all our guests tonight, English is the most convenient medium.

I am really pleased to host this special ceremony to honor Dr Chimnoy Guha, Professor at Calcutta University, author and translator, with the insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.

I should mention that the Government of France has already conferred on Dr. Guha the title of Chevalier des palmes académiques (2010) and of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (2013).

Dr Guha, everyone gathered here tonight knows your genuine and longstanding love story – your own words I believe - with the French language, with France, and French literature.

As I mentioned earlier, you master our language to perfection; you are a wealth of wisdom on French literature, Indian literature, to which I should add, of course, English literature. We are all thankful for the significant role you play in promoting cultural connections between our two cultures.

Let me say a few words in tribute to your dedication to our language:

Regarded by the film director Mrinal Sen as “an endless, tireless and dynamic stream of intellect” and by the writer Jean-Marie Le Clézio as a “ferryman (passeur) who builds bridges between France and India”, Dr Chinmoy Guha, you are regarded as one of the most distinguished scholars of French in Bengal and in India, and you belong to the great heritage of the Renaissance in Bengal. You are not only a reputed scholar and translator of French language and literature, but you are also a writer in three languages: Bengali, English and French.

Professor of English and former Chairperson at University of Calcutta, you were earlier Vice-Chancellor at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. You also worked as Directeur Associé at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (for Humanities and Social Sciences), Paris, in 2009 and 2014.

You taught French at Alliance Française in Calcutta for eleven years (1987-1998) and were Director of the Bureau du Livre at the French Cultural Centre in New Delhi (1998-1999).

You are an essayist and critic, and you were the literary editor of the prestigious Bengali literary magazine, Desh.

You have published more than 25 books, including Where the Dreams Cross: T S Eliot and French Poetry, Remembering Sartre, The Tower and the Sea: Romain Rolland-Kalidas Nag Correspondence. More recently, you published Bridging East and West: the correspondence of Rabindranath Tagore and Romain Rolland.

You have written on a wide range of subjects, including the Nouveau roman and Sartre, and also translated into Bengali La Rochefoucauld’s Maxims, Flaubert’s Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues and two anthologies of contemporary French poetry, not to mention Apollinaire, Francis Ponge, Henri Michaux, René Char, Jacques Prévert, Blaise Cendrars, Benjamin Péret, Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard, and many more.

Dr Guha, You have researched and lectured at the universities of Paris, Lyon, Avignon (France), Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Warwick, Worcester (U.K.) and Basel (Switzerland) and you have represented India many times all over the world.

I should mention that you are also a committee member for the Prix Romain Rolland de l’édition et de la traduction, an initiative launched a two years ago with the support of the French Embassy in Delhi, to reward the best Indian publications translated from French.

Your association with France and the French language is indeed a lasting love story and we are honored by your longstanding friendship.

In recognition of your achievements for the French language and of your steadfast commitment in nurturing cultural bonds between our two countries, it now gives me great pleasure to confer upon you the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite:

Monsieur Chimnoy Guha, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.

Last modified on 04/12/2019

top of the page