Rabindranath Tagore in Gordon Square

Bust of Tagore in Gordon Square

From the air (or Google Maps) it is obvious that Gordon Square forms one of a pair with neighbouring Tavistock Square.  However, on the ground, the similarities are not quite so immediately apparent.  The original Thomas Cubitt designs have been altered to varying degrees by time, development, Blitz and commerce.

Gordon Square with Tagore statue
Gordon Square

One thing that both squares do share, though, is statues of iconic Indians.

Tagore statue

The bronze bust of Rabindranath Tagore, sculpted by Shenda Amery, was unveiled in Gordon Square in 2011, to mark the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

Tagore’s poetry is celebrated by verses on either side of the plinth of the sculpture, with versions in both English and Bengali.

Tagore poem
Tagore poem
Tagore poem
Tagore poem

Renaissance man

Tagore became the first Nobel Laureate from Asia, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his collection of religious poems Gitanjali: Song Offerings.

As well as being a poet, Tagore was very much the polymath, recognised as a philosopher, an artist, a composer, writer and playwright.

Tagore was the dominant cultural figure at the end of the Bengal Renaissance, a social and intellectual movement centred on the city of Calcutta, and where the Tagore family were some of its most distinguished citizens.

Tagore in London

The young Rabindranath Tagore first travelled to London in 1878, where he attended lectures at University College London.  However, he was not to complete his degree.

He was to return to England again in 1912, and it was as a result of readings of his poems at the Hampstead house of the influential critic William Rothenstein that his work became known among the London intelligentsia.

It was in this same year that Gitanjali was first published as a limited edition by the India Society of London, and one year later in a much-expanded print-run by Macmillan, with an introduction added by W. B. Yeats.

Tagore statue
Tagore statue

Tagore at SOAS

SOAS University of London offer a module on Modern Indian Philosophy on its BA Study of Religions and BA World Philosophies undergraduate degree courses.  The module examines Tagore’s philosophy of life and art.

It is also possible to study Bengali language on MA South Asian Area Studies.

Find out more




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