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3 novembre 2011 4 03 /11 /novembre /2011 10:01

  The first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore's visit to China in 1924 once caused fierce controversies among Chinese intellectual circles, which could be regarded as an important event in the history of modern Sino-Indian cultural communication. This paper tries to divide those who had been involved in a number of hot debates on Tagore's visit to China and his speeches in China into three groups. For the first group, the leading figures like Liang Qichaochao and Xu Zhimo extended warm-hearted welcome to Tagore because they shared some ideas. For Lu Xun and Guo Moruo the two leading writers in the history of modern Chinese literature, their satiric indifference and strong aversion to Tagore reflected either a contempt for India or inner change of attitude towards Indian culture. Such eminent radical intellectuals as Chen Duxiu, Qu Qiubai and Mao Dun belonged to the third group, who were seriously and fiercely critical of Tagore since they dealt with Tagore's visit to China and his speeches in the context of Chinese political realities then. For the second and third group, the hot domestic debates on eastern and western cultures or even the road for modern China in the 1920s had had some indirect impact upon their evaluation on Tagore. One of the key issues here was that Tagore and his Chinese hosts and critics didn't understand each other well enough due to the complicated historical background. Tagore's visit to China, after all, is a valuable reference to Sino-Indian cultural communication today. [Abstract]

So far, we have seen enough multifarious Chinese repercussions to Tagore's visit and his public speeches in China. How to comment on this? When referring to Tagore's visit to China in 1924, Amiya Dev, Professor of comparative literature from Jadavpur University of India once told us in his article, Tagore the pioneer of modern India, "has been misread from many aspects." Why? Anyway, the lack of mutual understanding for each other is really a Himalaya gap waiting for the people from both India and China at present to cross or to fill. Let's cite a Western scholar's review as the conclusion for this article: "Tagore, whose knowledge of Chinese thought was apparently limited to one Taoist classic, and who seems to have known nothing of Confucianism, was ignorant of both the old and the new landscapes of secular Chinese thought. Many Chinese intellectuals, equally ignorant of Hindu thought, were led to the conclusion that he was a Buddhist whose ideas belonged not even to the recent past, which they were actively repudiating, but to the remote and hopelessly antedeluvian world of the T'ang dynasty." Now a new word Chindia has been coined for a new quest for mutual understanding between Indian and China. A number of conferences and seminars to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore have been hosted by different groups of scholars in different countries recently. Therefore it is high time we reflect on Tagore's visit to China and the various receptions at the Chinese side calmly and sincerely. [Concluding Paragraph]

Dr. Yin Xi'nan was born in Chongqing, China. He obtained his Ph.D. degree of comparative literature in Sichuan University in 2006 and studied Sanskrit in Sardar Patel University as a visiting scholar from 2004 to 2005. He did his post-doctoral research work in Beijing University where he continued studying Sanskrit from 2008 to 2010. Now he is working as Associate Professor in the Institute of South Asian Studies, Sichuan University. He is currently (July 2011 to April 2012) a visiting scholar at the Department of East Asian Studies of Delhi University, Delhi for a research project entitled "Chinese Culture in India since 1900." He is interested in Rabindranath Tagore, Sanskrit poetics, Sanskrit Buddhist texts, Sino-Indian Relations, Indian subject in the English world, etc. He has published the following books: Rabindranath Tagore: From the Perspective of World Civilization (2003), The  Discovery  of Rabindranath  Tagore (2005),  India in English Literature (2008), Indian Images of China (2010), Comparative  Studies in Sanskrit Alankara Sastra and Western Poetics (2010), A History of Comparative Literature in India (2011) and Outside of India:  A Study of  Indian Diasporic Writers (2011). His next books will be A History of Indian Literary theories and Critiques, Selected Translations of Sanskrit Poetic Works and Selected Translations of Articles in Comparative Literature in India. [Biography]

Yin Xi'nan, "Tagore's Various Responses in Modern Chinese Intellectual Circles in the 1920s" (unpublished paper delivered at Univ. of Chicago, Tagore Conference, 27 Oct. 2011)

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