Release of Bridging East and West: Rabindranath Tagore and Romain Rolland Correspondence
Release of Prof Chinmoy Guha’s book "Bridging East and West: Rabindranath Tagore and Romain Rolland Correspondence".
New Delhi, 5 December 2018
The Ambassador of France to India, Mr Alexandre Ziegler, today released Bridging East and West, the correspondence between Nobel Laureates Rabindranath Tagore and Romain Rolland, translated and compiled by Prof Chinmoy Guha.
Unveiling the book at the Residence of France, Ambassador Ziegler remarked, “The correspondence between these two great figures, whose message remains universal and so relevant today, is an amazing testimony of the values that brought our respective countries together almost a century ago; values of peace, independence, humanism that we still share and defend today.”
Prof Chinmoy Guha is professor of English and former chair, University of Calcutta, former Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and Director of Publications, Embassy of France in India, New Delhi. He has been the literary editor of the prestigious Bengali literary magazine ’Desh’ for a decade (2003—2012). The French Government conferred on him the titles of Chevalier des Palmes Académiques (2010) and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (2013). He received the Vidyasagar Puroshkar from the West Bengal Government in 2017. He was a member of the jury of the first Prix Romain Rolland, instituted by the Embassy of France in 2018.
His works include ’Where the Dreams Cross: T. S. Eliot and French Poetry’, ‘The Tower and the Sea: Romain Rolland-Kalidas Nag Correspondence 1922-1938’ (Sahitya Akademi), ’Tagore at Home in the World’ (co-ed, Sage Publications), a biography of Victor Hugo, and Bengali translations of La Rochefoucauld’s ’Maxims’, Flaubert’s ’The Dictionary of Received Ideas’, Romain Rolland’s ’Danton’, and André Gide’s ’Strait is the Gate’ (Sahitya Akademi). His best-known collections of essays in Bengali are: ’Chilekothhar Unmadini’, ’Garho Shankher Khonje’ and ’Ghumer Darja Thele’ (Ananda Publishers and Signet Press).
I am delighted to welcome you all at the Residence of France on the occasion of the publication of Professor Chinmoy Guha’s Bridging East and West.
Chinmoy Guha is first and foremost a friend of France and a messenger of culture between India and France, between Bengal and our country.
He has devoted his entire life to French literature and language. Professor and former head of the English department at the University of Calcutta, he is an essayist and translator from Bengali into English and French. In addition to the excellence of his research, he has long been involved in Indian and French academic institutions. He was Vice Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University.
After teaching English for two decades at the Vijaygarh Jyotish Ray College, he spent eleven years teaching at the Alliance française, the evident proof that everybody can amend himself. He is now very much involved in the development of our Alliance Française of Calcutta.
The number of his publications is impressive: no less than 27 books and about thirty articles that reflect his passion for the encounter between our two cultures. His work has been widely recognised by the awards and honours that he has received. He won the Lila Ray Prize from the Government of Bengal in 2008 and the bicentennial Derozio Prize in 2010. He was honoured with the Chevalier des Palmes Académiques in 2010 and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2013. Chinmoy Guha is also one of the jury members for the Romain Rolland Prize for translation, established in 2018.
Bridging East & West is both a literary and historical work. This intercultural correspondence between two twentieth century icons, Romain Rolland and Rabindranath Tagore, translated into English for the very first time, constitutes a bridge between the East and the West. Chinmoy’s documentary and iconographic research leads us to the close relationship between these two Nobel Laureates through unpublished letters that reveal the debates of the time on fascism and nationalism.
Romain Rolland (1866-1944) was a firm believer in Europe who fought against fascism and Nazism, and also an internationalist who built an arch between the West and the East.
What really triggered the dialogue between Romain Rolland and India was the anti-nationalist and universalist address that Rabindranath Tagore delivered at the Imperial University of Tokyo in October 1916, which Rolland called “a turning point in world history”. A few years later, in 1919, when the Great War had ended, Rolland penned the Declaration of Independence of the Spirit, which Tagore signed along with other thinkers. This remarkable document aimed at bringing the world together and elevating the human spirit through the intangible fellowship that transcends national boundaries.
The correspondence between these two great figures, whose message remains universal and so relevant today, is an amazing testimony of the values that brought our respective countries together almost a century ago; values of peace, independence, humanism that we still share and defend today.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I welcome our guest and friend, Chinmoy Guha, to present this elegant correspondence published by the discerning publisher, Oxford University Press.