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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WOODIN | 10A. Meets Tagore, 1930

Tagore to Woodin, December 15, 1930. Used by
permission of Bill Phipps.
Will Woodin some time on or soon before December 14, 1930 hosted Rabindranath Tagore (Gurudev, May 7, 1861-August 7, 1941), the Bengali genius who reshaped Bengali literature and music and Indian art.

Tagore and his personal physician Dr. Harry Timbers had recently met with Joseph Stalin in Moscow. Tagore wrote to Woodin as follows:
My dear Mr. Woodin:
Before leaving America I wish to thank you for the joy of the evening you spent with me and for the hope which your interest has aroused that my work will not be forgotten.
I am sending Dr. Timbers, my physician, back from England soon after January 1st. I would be very grateful to you if you will extend to him your valuable cooperation in any way you can.
Very sincerely yours,
Rabindranath Tagore
Possibly Woodin was already having a recurrence of his childhood throat problems and Tagore was offering to lend him his physician to look at the problem.

Tagore was of course widely known. In 1913 he was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature - his main work being the long poem Gitanjali ("Song Offerings").

He had made waves by denouncing the British Raj and advocating independence from Britain.

Among Bengalis he has an unequalled position, beginning a Bengali Renaissance and founding Visva-Bharati University. Tagore modernized Bengali art by rejecting classical forms and linguistic strictures and introducing new forms of prose and verse forms.

More broadly, Tagore was uniquely influential as a bridge between Indian and Western culture. A Pirali Brahmin from Kolkata (then Calcutta), Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old and wrote a major poem at 16 under the name Bhanusimha ("Sun Lion"), convincing experts that the poem represented lost classics.

By 1877 he had written many short stories and dramas under his real name. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays were both personal and political. Besides the Gitanjali, he is best known for Gora ("Fair-Faced") and Ghare-Baire ("The Home and the World"). His compositions were chosen by three nations as national anthems: India, Bangladesh and the original anthem for Sri Lanka.