If many people were taken aback – and then voiced their unhappiness – at the Nobel Prize for Literature going to a songwriter, others were quick to argue that Bob Dylan was not the first: that India’s own Rabindranath Tagore had beaten him to it 103 years ago, in 1913. But did Tagore actually win the Nobel for song-writing?
Scroll.in threw this question to Tagore expert Radha Chakravarty. A writer, critic, academic and translator, she has co-edited The Essential Tagore(Harvard and Visva Bharati), nominated Book of the Year 2011 by Martha Nussbaum, and edited Shades of Difference: Selected Writings of Rabindranath Tagore. Her translations of Tagore’s works include Boyhood Days, Chokher Bali, Gora, Farewell Song: Shesher Kabita and The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children. She is Professor of Comparative Literature & Translation Studies at Ambedkar University Delhi. Excerpts from the conversation: