Read Krislelis by Rabindranath Tagore Free Online
Book Title: Krislelis|
The author of the book: Rabindranath Tagore
Edition: Andrena Dictum
Date of issue: 1995
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 638 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.7
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Let me clarify that rating: 4 stars for Rabindranath Tagore’s novel, 2 stars for Sukhendu Ray’s translation. Why those ratings, I’ll explain towards the end of this review.
Set in the Calcutta of the late 19th century, Chokher Bali (‘The Mote in the Eye’) is about the dynamics in a small and prosperous family. Mahendra lives with his widowed mother Rajlakshmi (who is utterly devoted to him, a devotion returned in full by Mahendra), and her sister-in-law, Mahendra’s aunt Annapurna. Mahendra’s dear friend Bihari is considered almost a part of the family as well.
There’s a brief but abortive episode in which negotiations take place to get Mahendra—or Bihari—married to a certain Binodini. Neither of the men do marry her (all without ever having met the girl), and eventually arrangements are made for Bihari to marry the teenaged Asha. Bihari falls in love with Asha, but so does Mahendra—and he ends up marrying Asha. The married life of the young couple is blissful: they are so absorbed in each other that Rajlakshmi, suddenly bereft of her son’s adulation, finds herself neglected, furious, and at a loose end—and, on a visit to her village, returns from there with Binodini, since married and widowed, in tow.
Binodini’s arrival turns the household upside-down: her beauty, her education, her poise and grace, her capability when it comes to supervising the household or looking after an ailing Rajlakshmi… all are in sharp contrast to the abilities of the young and naïve Asha, and all quickly make her indispensable. Little does this family realize that Binodini, bitter and resentful at the way she was spurned, sight unseen, by both Mahendra and Bihari, wants her revenge. Her befriending of Asha is merely a means to get to Mahendra—and to seduce him. In the process, though, Binodini herself does not realize the havoc she will cause with not just Mahendra’s and Asha’s lives, but others as well—including her own.
Tagore’s deep understanding of human nature is what makes this novel so unforgettable. Each character is deftly etched, never black, never white, but shades of grey—and each character has a definite character arch: they do not remain always the same. When in love, they can be both desperately devoid of sense, and they can be nervous. They can shower someone with affection one moment, snap at them the next. Vow fidelity one morning, be unfaithful that night. Affection, honour, selflessness, jealousy, spite, selfishness… all are here, and more.
Most of all, Chokher Bali is a fine example of the phrase ‘the personal is political’, and not just in the feminist sense (though even that applies, considering Binodini’s plight is very much a part of the fact that, as a widow, she is discriminated against). It is a story of how each of our personal relationships has its own power equations at work: we love to control, even when it comes to those we love. Or especially when it comes to those we love.
If only the translation had been better. I have not read the original since I understand very little Bengali and read none, but when I come across patently incorrect sentences (“… she was merely testing water”, “… pulled his legs in good fun” and “…Don’t you ever notice anything? That is why everything is going to pots in this house”) it reduces the enjoyment of the story considerably. And these are only three examples of a lot of instances of errors.
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Read information about the authorAwarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 "because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West."
Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla.
The complete works of Rabindranath Tagore (রবীন্দ্র রচনাবলী) in the original Bengali are now available at these third-party websites:
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