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Clearing a Space

Reflections on India, Literature and Culture

Amit Chaudhuri

In the essays assembled in Clearing a Space, Chaudhuri draws on his own experiences to offer an acute exploration of what it means to be a modern Indian in relation to history. Often beginning with the personal, he inquires into the nature of the secular in India, into the history of such categories as the West, the foreign, the global and the exotic, and into the frequently torn and self-divided nature of modern Indian identity. With the same elegance and intelligence for which he has become known, Chaudhuri writes in these essays about Indian popular culture and high culture, travel and location in Paris, Bombay, Dublin, Calcutta and New York, empire and nationalism, Indian and Western cinema, the place of the everyday in Indian creativity, music, art and literature, politics, race, cosmopolitanism, urban landscapes, Hollywood and Bollywood, Anglophone India, internationalism, globalisation, the Indian English tradition that predates Rushdie, post-colonialism and much more.
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On Tagore

Reading the Poet Today

Amit Chaudhuri

Infosys Prize for outstanding contribution to the Humanities in Literary Studies

Rabindranath Tagore is widely regarded as a romantic poet, speaking of beauty and truth; as a transcendentalist; a believer in the absolute; a propagandist for universal man; and as a national icon. But, as Amit Chaudhuri shows in these remarkable and widely admired essays about the poet and his milieu, his secret concern was really with life, play, and contingency, with the momentary as much as it was with the eternal. It is this strain of unacknowledged modernism, as well as a revolutionary life-affirming vision, that gives his work, Chaudhuri argues, its immense power.
Acute, challenging, and path-breaking, Amit Chaudhuri’s collection will become a classic reading of Rabindranath Tagore and the way he is perceived today.
On Tagore was awarded the Rabindra Puraskar, the West Bengal government’s highest literary honour, in 2012 in recognition of the ‘significance, in the English language, of its critical analysis of Tagore’s works’.