Reviews

The Ramayana: A Stage Play and a Screen Play

Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Bashabi Fraser has added to this tradition by writing a new book of two plays that is based on the Indian epic The Ramayana, and which had been commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council and Edinburgh Puppet Lab.

Read the full review (pdf).

Somdatta Mandal
Professor of English (Rtd), Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, India.

IACLALS e-Newsletter Issue 10: 2021

The Homing Bird

The Homing Bird by Bashabi Fraser. Mario Relich. Transnational Literature Vol. 10 no. 1, November 2017.

Bashabi Fraser’s The Homing Bird is essentially a beautifully-produced booklet containing fourteen poems; for the most part, these explore the poet’s relationship with India and Scotland. The title-poem, headed ‘Kolkata’ and ‘Edinburgh’, gives us a panoramic view of how these two cities have shaped her consciousness and imagination. She is, indeed, a citizen of both, and these world-renowned cities anchor her dual identity as Indian and British, bearing in mind that they are also distinctive capital cities, Kolkata of West Bengal, and Edinburgh of Scotland. Both parts of the title-poem intertwine personal memories of the poet as a girl and university student with comments about the cultural and political significance of the two cities, by means of the traditional technique of apostrophe, which involves addressing them as persons.

Read the full review (pdf).

From Bengal to Scotland: Hybridity, Borders and National Narratives

From Bengal to Scotland: Hybridity, Borders and National Narratives

Máiréad Nic Craith

I first encountered Tartan and Turban (Fraser 2004) in an Edinburgh book- shop in 2006. At that time, I was intrigued by concepts of hybridity and liminality and was considering new research on intercultural writers from an anthropological perspective. This resulted in Narratives of Place, Belonging and Language (Nic Craith 2012) and The Vanishing World of the Islandman (Nic Craith 2020). Tartan and Turban did not feature in those volumes, which focused solely on memoir as a resource. However, it is now time for me to recapture my excitement at that first glimpse of Bashabi Fraser’s vol- ume of poetry. Moreover, since that time I have come to know Fraser as an academic and friend and have attended her poetry readings and book launches.

Read the review here (pdf)

Critical Lives: Rabindranath Tagore - Reviewed by Geraldine Forbes

Bashabi Fraser
248 pages, 2019, £11.99 (paperback) Reaktion Books

Reviewed by Geraldine Forbes, State University of New York Oswego

There is no dearth of books on Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali polymath who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. 

While some might wonder if we need another biography of Rabindranath Tagore, I would reply that we need Bashabi Fraser’s Critical Lives biography. Writing about this extraordinary man requires a seasoned scholar who knows his life and oeuvre and can contextualize the admiration and criticism he invited in India and abroad during his lifetime.  Read the full review (pdf).

 

Alan Riach: Poetry books to bring pleasure amid self-serving politics

By Alan Riach Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University

Published by Scotland Street Press is the 2021 volume Patient Dignity, poems by Bashabi Fraser with artwork by Vibha Pankaj. As with Wilson’s Ornithology & Burns, this book combines vivid and lovely images of paintings with poems of immediate and lasting effect.

Bashabi Fraser is one of Scotland’s most multi-faceted contemporary poets and scholars, renowned for her work on Rabindranath Tagore and Patrick Geddes and for poems which bring together her sense of belonging to two multi-dimensional nations, Scotland and India.

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Book Review: ​Rabindranath Tagore by Bashabi Fraser. ​Suparna Banerjee. Transnational Literature

Book Review: ​Rabindranath Tagore by Bashabi Fraser. ​Suparna Banerjee. Transnational Literature, v​ ol. 12, November 2020
URL: ​https://transnationalliterature.org/

Rabindranath Tagore ​by Bashabi Fraser (Reaktion Books, London, 2019) Reviewed by Suparna Banerjee

Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first non-Westerner to win the Nobel Prize in literature, is still among the most famous Indians the world over. Along with M.K. Gandhi, he had been one of the most powerful influences that shaped the consciousness of modern India.

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Tacitus, Tagore.  Two studies of a remarkably neglected polymath

Tacitus, Tagore.  Two studies of a remarkably neglected polymath

ROSINKA CHAUDHURI

RABINDRANATH TAGORE by BASHABI FRASER

THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO RABINDRANATH TAGORE SUKANTA CHAUDHURI, EDITOR 515pp. Cambridge University Press. Paperback, £34.99 (US $44.99).

OPPOSITE THE TITLE PAGE of Bashabi Fra- ser’s summation of Rabindranath Tagore’s life and work appears a long list of the “leading cultural figures of the modern period” who also appear in the series to which it belongs – a series called Critical Lives. Alphabetically arranged, it begins with Antonin Artaud, Roland Barthes and Georges Bataille, but unexpectedly it also includes Coco Chanel and Derek Jarman.

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Book Review: Critical Lives: Rabindranath Tagore

Book Review

Critical Lives: Rabindranath Tagore

By Bashabi Fraser, London: Reaktion Books, 2019; Pages 245; ISBN: 978-1-78914-149-8.

MALASHRI LAL

Bashabi Fraser’s insightful critical biography of Rabindranath Tagore is focussed on his cosmopolitanism, an aspect often missed out in traditional narratives. The shaping influence of his family, the historical forces of the Bengal renaissance and the capacity to learn from extensive cultural contacts synthesised into the humanistic philosophy by which Tagore is known.

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Bashabi Fraser, The Homing Bird (Indigo Dreams, 2017)

Bashabi Fraser’s The Homing Bird is essentially a beautifully-produced booklet containing fourteen poems; for the most part, these explore the poet’s relationship with India and Scotland.

The title-poem, headed ‘Kolkata’ and ‘Edinburgh’, gives us a panoramic view of how these two cities have shaped her consciousness and imagination. She is, indeed, a citizen of both, and these world-renowned cities anchor her dual identity as Indian and British, bearing in mind that they are also distinctive capital cities, Kolkata of West Bengal, and Edinburgh of Scotland. Both parts of the title-poem intertwine personal memories of the poet as a girl and university student with comments about the cultural and political significance of the two cities, by means of the traditional technique of apostrophe, which involves addressing them as persons.

Read more ...

Tagore and the ‘Universal Man’ 

Review of Critical Lives: Rabindranath Tagore by Bashabi Fraser

London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2019; 244 pages; ISBN: 9781789141498

Reviewed by Sabiha Huq

Bashabi Fraser’s book on Rabindranath Tagore in the Critical Lives series is a fresh appreciation of the poet’s long life and career; the freshness emerging from the biographer’s unimpassioned treatment of the life she deals with. We certainly find this approach in the mention of extra-literary factors like Tagore’s “illustrious family, his multifaceted talents and his pioneering work in education and rural uplift” that the Nobel Committee was fully aware of, which perhaps contributed to the poet’s qualifying indicators for receiving the Prize. This approach is not entirely new though, as some of the previous biographies refer to similar aspects of the poet’s life. For example, Uma Dasgupta’s Rabindranath Tagore: A Biography, though briefly, focuses on the poet’s role as an educator and rural reformer during the establishment of Visva Bharati. Dasgupta disseminates information on Tagore among different titles, and it is obvious that one of her works may not give that sense of completeness that this new biography offers. Indeed, Fraser attaches utmost importance on Tagore’s family, the family house at Jorasanko, and the talented members who somehow or other bequeathed their legacy unto the one man who was ready to receive it all. She carefully depicts each of the family members and her or his contribution in the evolution of Tagore. In her own words, she offers “an analytical reappraisal of the familial, socio-political and cultural background” that provides “a prism” through which the readers would be able to see the author in different dimensions. 

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Dr. Bashabi Fraser’s The Ramayana: A Stage Play and A Screen Play

BOOK-REVIEW

Debapriti Sengupta

Student of Bachelors in English, Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata

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To condense an epic of 24000 verses into a limited sphere without causing any harm to the age old sentiments that is associated with it is not a very easy task. However, Professor Emerita Dr. Bashabi Fraser in her book The Ramayana: A Stage Play and A Screen Play has done the above mentioned task commendably. As Professor Deb Narayan Bandyopadhyay states in the Introduction of the book, ‘Fraser has successfully transformed the epical into the dramatic’ (xiv). The cover page designed in the style of Kangra or Nagarkot style of painting gives us a feel of the ancient and medieval times. It transcends our mind to an era and before we start reading our mind is ready to encounter the society in which the epic is set.

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To a world where borders wane

Saptarshi Mallick

Rabindranath Tagore emphasized that life and society can reach to the highest realms of freedom if it actively endeavours ‘to solve the problem of mutual relationship’ (Tagore 4: 628). Bashabi Fraser’s The Homing Bird is ‘a harmonious blending of voice, gesture and movement, words and action, in which [Fraser’s] generosity of conduct is expressed’ (Tagore 2: 495). In her collection, Fraser through the canvas of fourteen poems has judiciously addressed the necessity of adhering to the integrating spirit of human unity, mutual-understanding, love and respect in this world, interrogating at once the divisive forces of society.

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