The Home and the World, Rabindranath Tagore

By Ankita Menghwani

Rating – 4/5

“Men can only think. Women have a way of understanding without thinking. Woman was created out of God’s own fancy. Man, He had to hammer into shape.” 

ankita-book

The Home and the World, Rabindra Nath Tagore (Picture by Ankita Menghwani)

For the past few months I was in a weird slump. I couldn’t for the life of me finish a novel. Not even a book I liked. Needless to say, that did not sit well with me. Reading is my refuge and not being able to complete a book was doing my head in. One day I was feeling quite restless. So I went and stood in front of my bookshelf. The sight of my books always soothes my soul. My eyes fell on Tagore’s The Home and the World and as soon as I picked it up I had the sudden urge to read it. The sad and despondent woman standing by a window called to me. I started reading it immediately. I read most of it in one sitting. And I am happy to say that with this (must read) book my reading dry spell is over. Finally.

The Home and the World (Ghare Baire) was first published in 1916. It is set against the backdrop of the Partition of Bengal by the British. It shows a detailed presentation of India during its fight for Independence. It is set against the background of the famous Swadeshi movement. With this book, Gurudev Tagore portrayed through his three main characters a battle that he had with himself. The battle being the clash of two opposing ideas, namely, whether to follow the western culture or revolutionize against the said western culture. At that time, the whole country was fighting this battle.

It is both a love story and a book of political awakening. It shows the conflicts and turmoils in one’s home and the country and how the characters struggle with both the conflicts and how they deal with them. And how their lives change inevitably because of their actions and how they react to all events happening when the nation is in turmoil. The plot isn’t complex but it is highly impressionable and full of meaning. The writing is simple yet beautiful. The phrases and quotes are thought provoking and they make one pause and ponder.

My favorite aspect of the book is the transformation of the woman in the book. From a traditional, insecure and gullible wife she becomes a take charge, independent woman. With the changes and movements going on in the country, she changes too and becomes a formidable woman who can do anything. And she does, boy, she does.

Arranged marriage, a monotonous relationship, forbidden lust, passion, devotion, patriotism, dignity, nobility, deceit, envy, lies, greed, philosophy, politics and so on and so forth. This book has it all. It has many layers, just like its characters. The universalism and humanism in this book make it a timeless classic. It has been hundred years since this book was written and all that is in this book is still relevant in the modern times. This book is unique (obviously because, duh, Tagore). And it is an important read. I loved reading this book. My only regret is that I read its English translation and not the original Bengali text. A lot is lost in translation. Le sigh!

Note: This book review is part of a new initiative at Read Stuff With Me where some wonderful book-nerds will write book reviews and share stories of their personal connection to some books. 

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