Tagore spoke of women’s empowerment, about a woman’s rightful place, about her power and respect, about how she can turn the course of things in one’s life much before these ideas became popular fads. Chandalika and Chitrangada are two beautiful, lyrical and yet extremely powerful dance dramas in verse by Tagore that emphatically place the woman on equal terms with the man, if not above him in courage and conviction.
The Blue Pencil, an imprint of Learning and Creativity is proud to present our latest publication ‘Tales of Transformation: English Translation of Tagore’s Chitrangada and Chandalika, by renowned author and expert translator Lopamudra Banerjee.
The book boasts of a brilliant foreword by Suman Pokhrel, renowned translator, author, playwright and SAARC awardee, and with some mind-blowing illustrations created by the design team of Blue Pencil Editing Services. The cover illustration by the brilliant Avijit Sarkar from Australia. Print edition will follow soon.
This sleek book is a very sensitively executed effort at bringing Nobel Laureate Gurudeb Tagore’s two dance dramas, Chitrangada, and Chandalika to a global audience, by Lopamudra Banerjee, a poet, the lyrical intensity of whose writings, has always left me spellbound. These enchanting tales of transformation, embodying the essence of womanhood, not only captivate, but carry within themselves the heady aroma of flowers, which engulfs you completely by the time you finish reading them. Like two splinters of golden sun rays they are sure to illumine and scintillate the literary world.
~ Dr. Santosh Bakaya [Author of ‘Ballad of Bapu’, ‘Where are the lilacs?’, ‘Under the Apple Boughs’, ‘Flights from my Terrace’ and ‘A Skyful of Balloons’]
Lopamudra Banerjee’s translations of two of Rabindranath Tagore’s classic dance dramas — Chitrangada and Chandalika — point to her deep engagement as much with feminist narratives as they do with translating Tagore. In rendering these two important musical plays with strong female protagonists into English, Banerjee uses her poetic sensibilities to charming effect. Her translations of these two works also reflect her keen understanding of Tagore’s text and its power to transform.
~ Bhaswati Ghosh [Poet, award-winning translator of ‘My Days With Ramkinkar Baij’, Editor-at-large, Café Dissensus journal]
Spirit of Feminism and the Spirit of Inquiry Shines in Chitrangada and Chandalika
“Since childhood, I have been fed on a rich diet of Tagore books. Tagore songs and dance dramas performed in my very young days have had a huge impact on my psyche, like any other true Bengali. This slim volume is my humble homage to the richness of Tagore’s dance drama in the form of English translation, adding a bit to the already rich repertoire of Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore books in English.
Chitrangada and Chandalika, two dance dramas written by Rabindranath Tagore, were composed during the end of nineteenth century and early twentieth century respectively, and the rich melodies of Tagore’s poetry are abundantly present in both these dance dramas. ‘Chitrangada’, based on the love life of Arjun, the third Pandava of Mahabharata and the princess of Manipur, was composed by Tagore in 1892. ‘Chandalika’, on the other hand, based on a Buddhist legend, was published in 1938 and staged in Kolkata as a Tagore dance drama for the first time during the same year. During the British colonial regime, this genre of dance drama, fusing the elements of story, plot, characterization, Tagore’s lyrical poetry, songs and abhinaya (acting) was a very unique concept and Tagore makes the best use of this genre.
Both the dance dramas are subtly woven tales of transformation of the female protagonists, Chandalika and Chitrangada. The spirit of feminism and the spirit of inquiry shines through both of these female protagonists originally created by Tagore. Being a poet myself and having a strong leaning towards feminine subjectivity, it has been my ardent desire to present these two distinctive Tagore dance dramas to the global readers through English translation. My quest in this translation is to exemplify how Tagore was way ahead of his times in demonstrating the spirit of womanhood and defying the societal perceptions of gender and caste by creating these characters and tales.
A writer, poet, editor and translator, Lopa is currently based in Dallas, USA. She has a Masters’ degree with thesis in creative nonfiction writing from the Department of English, University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is the co-editor of the bestselling anthology on women, ‘Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas’. She has also co-edited ‘Darkness There But Something More’, an anthology of 30 spine-chilling ghost stories, published by The Blue Pencil and available in Amazon Kindle.
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