Sepoys, Sahibs and Babus: India, the Great War and Two Colonial Journals View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:Chapter     


Chapter Info

DATE

2007

AUTHORS

Santanu Das

ABSTRACT

In the grand European literary narrative of the First World War, Indian literature figures notably on two occasions: both centre round the figure of the Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore who was at the time arguably the most celebrated poet in the world. The first instance is Wilfred Owen’s adoration for Tagore: while saying goodbye to his mother for the final time, he quoted a line from Gitanjali — ‘When I go from hence, let this be my parting word’ — and the full poem was copied by him on the back of a message form in early 1917.1 The second instance comes from the German playwright Carl Zuckmayer who had heard the story from a soldier friend in the medical corps. A Gurkha soldier, taken prisoner in the German camp, was severely wounded and an amputation was necessary. The Gurkha had no German or English, and the German medical staff had no Nepali. At this point, the German officer uttered the only Indian words he knew — ‘Rabindranath Tagore! Rabindranath Tagore!’ at which the eyes of the Gurkha soldier lit up and he smiled.2 Poised between high art and general cultural awareness, tragedy and recognition, the two stories reveal not only the astonishing popularity of Tagore in pre-War Europe but the complex and intimate processes of what Harish Trivedi has called ‘colonial transactions’.3 More... »

PAGES

61-77

Book

TITLE

Publishing in the First World War

ISBN

978-1-349-35287-6
978-0-230-21083-7

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1057/9780230210837_5

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230210837_5

DIMENSIONS

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