Rabindranath Tagore

Illustrated by Anagh Banerjee

Introduced by Amit Chaudhuri

Gitanjali won the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature, elevating Bengali author Rabindranath Tagore to the world’s stage. Folio presents the first ever illustrated edition, with woodcuts by artist Anagh Banerjee and an exclusive introduction by author Amit Chaudhuri.

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Gitanjali is a love poem, not only to a higher being, but also to the concept of what it means to be in love. With delicate woodcuts by Anagh Banerjee and an insightful intro by acclaimed author Amit Chaudhuri, this is the ultimate edition of a poem that forever changed the poetic canon.’
  1. Sinéad O'Callaghan, Fiction Editor, The Folio Society

Navigating themes of divine love, relationships, life’s turbulances and moments of peace, Gitanjali is a baptism of classic poetry and Bengali culture. This new illustrated edition by Folio places a spotlight on an essential work that helped to expand the canon of modern poetry beyond the western plains and introduced audiences to one of the most important writers in 20th century literature.

Often referred to as ‘The Shakespeare of the East’, Rabindranath Tagore is a central figure in Bengali and Indian history, reshaping art and literature through his poems, novels, short stories and plays. His captivating style is treasured for its hypnotic rhythms, striking imagery and overflow of the soul – gorgeously captured by artist Anagh Banerjee's delicate woodcuts scattered throughout Folio’s edition. In his introduction, novelist Amit Chaudhuri not only explores Tagore’s writings in relation to the text itself, but also responds to the Gitanjali’s original 1913 introduction by W. B. Yeats, further contextualising the title’s history and nuances for new and old readers alike.

Bound in printed and blocked cloth  

Typeset in Arno 

136 pages  

Six integrated full-page woodcuts 

Slipcase with blocked motif 

8¾˝ x 5½˝ 

Printed in Slovakia

‘Tagore’s Bengali songs are unprecedented in their preoccupation with superfluity, objectless excess, and an intense sense of limitlessness.’
  1. Amit Chaudhuri, from his introduction

Moving, mystic and mesmerising, Gitanjali moves through matters of intimacy, death and spirituality with a grace and vulnerability that has continued to inspire readers since its first publication in 1910. The tenderness in Tagore’s prose goes much deeper than its English translation, a concept Amit Chaudhuri unpicks in his introduction. Rather than holding the original Bengali collection of songs in our hands, the English version is a vaster collection of Tagore’s works, the writer having selected prose from at least four different books. Working in dialogue with Yeats’ original foreward, Chaudhuri explores the complexities of legacy and discovery, and how this can both enrich and diminish a piece of work: ‘It is a reminder of the possibilities that existed in 1912, possibilities that widened and enriched the trajectory of modern poetry and the reach of a new intercultural world only beginning to be discovered.’ Despite the differences between the English and Bengali versions, the theme at the heart of Gitanjali remains true. Love is boundless in all its forms and this Folio edition captures the legacy of Tagore’s writings in a way that will stay with you long beyond its last page.

About Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) is a central figure in Indian cultural history. He played a key role in the Bengali Renaissance, which seized on Western forms and ushered in a new, modernising vitality. Tagore reshaped Bengali literature in his poems, novels, short stories and plays, and his writing has long been acclaimed for its freshness, beauty and rejection of classical rigidity. He was also an accomplished visual artist and an acute political commentator in his essays, which reveal a deep opposition to imperialism and a sceptical ambivalence about Indian nationalism. In 1913 Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and he is still honoured as one of South Asia’s finest writers: his words are used as the national anthems of both India and Bangladesh and eight museums are dedicated to his memory. Tagore was raised in the family’s mansion in Calcutta, but later travelled widely; he spent periods managing estates elsewhere in Bengal and also living in England, but returned to Calcutta and died in his ancestral home.

About Amit Chaudhuri

Amit Chaudhuri is a novelist, critic, poet and singer from India. The author of eight novels, most recently Sojourn (2022), he has also published short fiction, essays and book-length non-fiction on Tagore, Calcutta, D. H. Lawrence and Indian music, among many other subjects. He edited the path-breaking Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature and has also performed internationally as a singer of North Indian classical music. Chaudhuri was professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia until 2021, and now teaches creative writing at Ashoka University in India. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has won awards including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his fiction. Born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay, he studied in London and Oxford and now lives in Calcutta and the UK.

About Anagh Banerjee

Anagh Banerjee is an artist from Bombay who now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated with an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2018, and is now a printmaker and illustrator whose work is inspired by music, poetry and history. His work has been widely exhibited in the United States, most recently as part of the show Partition in the Modern World in Evanston, Illinois, in 2023, and he has been commissioned by clients including the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review. Other work includes branding, poster and exhibition design as well as woodcut book illustration and art direction for a virtual reality experience based on first-hand accounts of the Partition of India.


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