The special issue of Parabaas on Buddhadeva Bose is the third in a planned series devoted to commemorate prominent Bengali authors. Like the others before it, it will be a dynamic folder, continuing to grow with time as we add more commentary and literary criticisms on Buddhadeva Bose's work as well as biographical articles. New contributions and opinion on published articles from our readers is always welcome. It is the participation of readers that makes Parabaas such an exciting experience for our writers.
Buddhadeva Bose [1908-1974] belonged to a new generation of precocious poets and writers born in the first decade of 20th century who were destined to be the first to emerge from the shadow of Rabindranath Tagore. At 19 he was already editing and publishing Pragati, a journal of contemporary poetry where many leading poets of the next three decades would publish some of their earliest poems. In the mid thirties Buddhadeva Bose launched Kabita, the leading journal of Bengali poetry in its time. Throughout his life he was a prolific producer of poems, short stories and novels.
Perhaps the single most important reason why Buddhadeva Bose was a revered figure among Bengali writers in the 20th century was his relentless support for new voices in Bengali poetry. This support materialized in the form of essays and book reviews that were often centerpieces of his poetry journals. To this date they constitute perhaps the most lucid introduction to ideas and debates surrounding the evolution of 20th century Bengali poetry.
Buddhadeva Bose's essays on contemporary poetry were remarkable not only for the depth of his analysis but also for a wonderful prose that is in a literary class by itself. Some of his style was borrowed from English literary criticisms, including a syntax that is distinctly English and reflects his liefelong passion for European literature as well as his background as a top student of the English language. Yet he showed an appreciation for Tagore's work in an equally exquisite series of essays that are also unmatched in their sensitivity and incisiveness. Buddhadeva Bose looked at the modern and the traditional in Bengali poetry with the same artistic eye that rendered superfluous partisan criticism of modern poetry by those who were opposed to new forms of writing. Sunil Gangopadhyay, the famous Bengali novelist and poet once remarked that Buddhadeva Bose had singlehandedly won the battle of survival for new poets of that generation.
Buddhadeva Bose was a voracious consumer of world literature. He travelled widely and translated many European poets inluding Rilke and Baudelaire. He translated many of his own works from Bengali to English and some previously unpublished ones appear on this website. Buddhadeva Bose also introduced the teaching of comparative literature to Indian universities. He taught a class at the Jadavpur University for many years and several of his students later became well known literary figures themselves.
For his lifelong support of modern Bengali literature, for serving as an inspiration to all young poets of his own and following generations and for being perhaps the most influential figure of Bengali literature after Rabindranath Tagore we remember Buddhadeva Bose with this special Parabaas commemorative issue.
Published June 15, 2004