Now regarded as one of Bengali literature's leading modernists, poet Jibanananda Das (1899-1954) achieved literary fame at the end of his career and remains extremely popular in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. Das biographer Clinton B. Seely, professor emeritus of South Asian languages and civilizations, translated 35 poems by Das, including selections from his famous Bengal the Beautiful sonnets. Seely's introduction situates the poet's work in its cultural and historical contexts. —Andrew Peart
Jibanananda Das, born in 1899 in the small town of Barisal north of Sunderbans, is one of the most quoted poets in both Bangladesh and West Bengal. Early in his life, he went off to Calcutta, the literary and political hub of the Bengali world, first to attend college and then to teach English literature at Calcutta’s City College. Eventually, in 1930s, Das returned to his beloved Barisal, reaching his creative peak and writing some of his best poems. He developed his own very idiosyncratic style, a style no one could ever imitate but one that is now recognized as the epitome of what is called post-Tagorian modernism. Professor Emeritus of South Asian Languages and Civilization at the University of Chicago, Clinton B. Seely taught literature and the Bangla language for thirty-five years. His books include translations of Buddhadeva Bose’s novel Rain through the Night; and of Michael Madhusudan Datta’s epic poem, The Slaying of Meghanada: A Ramayana from Colonial Bengal, which received the A. K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation, awarded by the South Asian Council of the Association of Asian Studies, and Barisal and Beyond: Essays on Bangla Literature. He is also the author of A Poet Apart: A Literary Biography of the Bengali Poet Jibanananda Das (1899- 1954) which was honored with the “Ashoke Kumar Sarkar” Ananda Prize in 1993.Cover: Sambit Basu
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