Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-73) is one of the
greatest figures not just of Bengali but also of modern Indian literature.
Ghulam Murshid's biography of Dutt is unique in that it provides, with ample
evidence of tireless research, a fresh insight into the colourful yet tragic
life of this intriguing writer and poet.
As a modern classicist, Dutt treated
traditional mythological material in a manner that lay it open for generation to
re-read and reinterpret: Meghnadbadh Kabya, the nine-book epic, is often
regarded as his masterpiece. As a lyric poet, his poems about Radha and Krishna
were a major advance, in feeling and form, on the medieval Bengali Vaishnav
literary tradition. And, as a dramatist, he laid the foundations for modern
Bengali tragedy and comedy. Dutt has also left behind a sequence of a hundred
and tow sonnets composed in Bengali, and innumerable letters which he wrote in
English, which throw open a window to nineteenth-century Calcutta.
other critical and biographical studies of Dutt's life have appeared in the
past, most were based on hearsay and contained gaps in the biographical record,
as well as textual flaws, especially in Dutt's English letters and the English
poems he wrote before turning to Bengali. Ghulam Murshid is the first biographer
to show the close relationship between the life and the works of Dutt.
translation of Michael Madhusudan Dutt's biography will make his scholarship and
insights more accessible to a wider circle of readers.
About the Authors:
Murshid is an established writer and an ex-professor of Bengali, Rajshahi
University, Bangladesh. He currently lives in London.
Gopa Majumdar is a professional translator who has over 15
translations to her credit. Her translation of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay's Aparajito
was recently awarded a Sahitya Akademi prize.
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