Upcoming Events

Sukanta Chaudhuri | On Translation

Sukanta Chaudhuri | On Translation

  5 - 6:30 p.m.
  341 SSEAS Library. (Located on Level F) Dwinelle Hall

Sukanta Chaudhuri

The Tagore Program on Literature, Culture and Philosophy at UC Berkeley invites you for a talk by former Tagore Visiting Scholar Lecture or Spring 2022, Sukanta Chaudhuri Professor Emeritus at Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

DATE: Tuesday, October 18, 2022
TIME: 5 - 6:30 pm PST
VENUE: 341 Dwinelle Hall (Located on Level F)


Rabindranath’s English poetry is almost always a version of an earlier Bengali work, if sometimes a very free one. The two bodies of work are polar opposites in style. They reflect different poetic personae and follow different literary agendas. This lecture will consider some major points of contrast, and argue that crucial aspects of Tagore’s poetic identity emerge from the gap between the two. Still more crucially, the contrast subsumes the poet’s identity in the independent possibilities of the text, held in suspension to be brought out in translation or in an entirely new work. This lecture attempts a comprehensive view of the total text on these lines, thereby also redefining the author’s relation to his work.

Sukanta Chaudhuri taught at Presidency College, Kolkata from 1973 to 1991 and at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, thereafter till 2010. He is now Professor Emeritus at Jadavpur University, where he was founding Director of the School of Cultural Texts and Records, a pioneering centre of archiving and digital humanities in India.

He has held visiting appointments at many places including All Souls College, Oxford; St John’s College, Cambridge; the School of Advanced Study, London; the University of Virginia; Loyola University, Chicago; and Tagore’s university Visva-Bharati. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Asiatic Society, Kolkata, and the Tagore Research Centre, Kolkata. Till 2021, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Shakespeare Association. In 2021, he was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.

Chaudhuri has worked extensively on Rabindranath Tagore. He was General Editor of the Oxford Tagore Translations (five volumes between 2000 and 2006); editor of The Cambridge Companion to Rabindranath Tagore (2020); and most importantly, chief co-ordinator of the comprehensive Tagore website Bichitra, set up in 2013.

His other chief fields of study are the English and European Renaissance, translation, textual studies and digital humanities. He has published the monographs Infirm Glory: Shakespeare and the Renaissance Image of Man (Clarendon Press, 1981) and Renaissance Pastoral and Its English Developments (Clarendon Press, 1989). More recently, he has edited Pastoral Poetry of the English Renaissance (2 vols, Manchester, 2016-17) and the Third Arden edition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2017). He has also edited or co-edited several volumes of Renaissance texts and critical collections on the Renaissance. He has studied the links and parallels between the European and the Bengal Renaissances, and the possibility of a common model of a 'Renaissance'.

Chaudhuri has translated from classic Bengali writers like Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sukumar Ray, Rajshekhar Basu, and many modern Bengali poets. He has also translated the complete limericks of Edward Lear into Bengali, and selections from the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci from Italian into Bengali. He is the author of Translation and Understanding (OUP Delhi, 1999).

He has also worked extensively on textual studies and editorial theory. His monograph The Metaphysics of Text (Cambridge, 2010) combines traditional bibliography and textual criticism with recent editorial theory and theories of language. His textual inquiries led him to the field of digital humanities, as centred in the School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University. He was Principal Investigator of two major projects under the British Library's Endangered Archives Programme, besides the Tagore website Bichitra. He is currently coordinating a computer-based historical dictionary of Bengali.

Chaudhuri writes and campaigns on urban issues, especially as concerning his native city, Kolkata. He edited the authoritative two-volume reference work Calcutta: The Living City (OUP Delhi, 1990). For many years, he wrote a fortnightly column "View from Calcutta" for the newspaper The Asian Age.

His Bengali play Jaha Chai ('What We Desire') was performed in 2007 by the theatre group Nandikar as part of a worldwide project on "cultural mobility", built around the idea of Shakespeare's lost play Cardenio and co-ordinated by scholar Stephen Greenblatt and Off-Broadway dramatist Charles L. Mee. Chaudhuri set the story in modern Bengal, the lost play metamorphosing into a (fictional) lost text of Tagore.

He is married to Supriya Chaudhuri, formerly Professor of English and now Professor Emerita at Jadavpur University.

Launched in Fall 2019, and housed in the Institute for South Asia Studies, the Tagore Program on Literature, Culture and Philosophy at UC Berkeley, is the first of its kind in the US. Designed to showcase the life and legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, the program sponsors talks and workshops on Tagore, as well as semester-long visiting professorships in Tagore Studies at UC Berkeley. Read more about the program HERE.

Like us on FACEBOOK
Follow us on TWITTER

The event is FREE and OPEN to the public.