Thinking in the collision between tradition and modernity

“The Last Psalms” is a novel written by Tagore when he was 68 in his later years. The plot of the novel is simple. It does not portray us a broad social picture and twists and turns and complicated stories like the novels such as “Gola” created in the earlier period. Instead, it is full of poetic and artistic depiction of nature. The whole novel has an elegant language and uses a lot of rhetoric such as metaphors and personification, full of romantic poetry. This is inseparable from the temperament of Tagore’s poets, and it is also closely related to the literary development environment at that time.

As a British colony, India has been influenced by Britain and the Western society it represents in all areas of society. The beginning of the 20th century was a period of vigorous development of modernist literature, and the innovation and development of Indian literature was inevitably affected by this trend. A group of radical literary reformers adopted an overall absorbing attitude towards Western modernist literature and completely abandoned their own literary traditions. Their novels and poems no longer follow traditional novels and poems that emphasize plots and rhythms. Most of them have difficult language, confusing content, unclear meaning, and full of descriptions of the erotic desires of both sexes. As a representative of Indian traditional literature, Tagore was naturally attacked by these radical writers.

In the subsequent confrontation with these radical writers, Tagore deepened and perfected his later poetic theory. He believes that “the so-called innovation is to express in the latest form the real things that can inspire people to pursue noble ideals and have long-term value… Innovation and tradition are not contradictory and cannot be separated.” While affirming the Indian literary tradition, Tagore did not completely reject the introduction and influence of Western literature, but he held a negative attitude towards Western modernist poetry and its influence on Bengali literature. He was not concerned about the lack of emphasis on poetic rhythm and obscure language. The literary trend of Bengali is criticized, especially Bengali literature is in the development stage of modernization. This trend is tantamount to a kind of deformed guidance and is of no benefit to the development of literature.

After several controversies, Tagore organized his speech and views into two literary theories-“The Essence of Literature” and “The Innovation of Literature”. Unexpectedly, it caused further controversy, with voices of opposition and approval one after another. Just as the dispute between the two sides gradually shifted from the field of literature to the attack on Tagore himself, and the nature of the dispute gradually changed, “The Last Psalms” was published. This is Tagore’s second and last novel created a few years later in his later years. However, with its romantic style, unrestrained emotional expression and novel form, it has won unanimous praise from the critics.

The novel “The Last Psalms” was born out of a dispute between the radicals who fully accepted Western modernist literature and their opponents, and was approved by both parties. Even the poet Butadeva Basu, known as the “Lawrence of India” and who carried out a fierce attack on Tagore, also secretly admitted: “The “Last Psalm” seems to have been written by Tagore specifically to demonstrate to us. Each chapter is an unparalleled prose poem, which is exactly what we want to write but we don’t know how to write.” Indian cultural traditions, Western modernism and romanticism are perfected in The Last Poem In combination, the portrayal of characters, the form of poetry in the novel, and the expression of emotions all reflect the constant progress and innovation of this young writer, which guides the direction of the development of Bangladeshi literature and contributes his own strength.

In terms of characterization, although the plot of the novel is simple and the main characters involved are not many, the characterization is not thin. It mainly uses strong contrast to reflect the contradictions between traditional and modern characters. Because of his 7 years of studying in the UK and his talent, the hero, Amed, ridiculed Bengali literature and said bluntly to Tagore: “A poet shamelessly lives to 60 or 70 years old, then he is only Can lower his worth, practice himself, and finally have to imitate others everywhere and ruin his own creative style… Readers are responsible for not letting these old poets live.” Here Tagore also cleverly wrote himself into his works, becoming Ami De greatly increased the object of discussion and criticism, and continued this treatment into the subsequent love process of Amed, which became a clue to the development of the story. From another point of view, this is actually Tagore’s response and irony to the radicals represented by people like Amed at that time, expressing his opposition to this kind of total Westernization.

Then, when the love affair between Amed and the governess Lan Wa was exposed, under the shackles of the traditional class concept, Amed instantly became fearful, and after receiving a telegram, he learned that his sisters were coming After that, Amed was no longer as confident and calm as he was in the past, “with a look of worry”, “wandering trying to conceal his inner anxiety.” When the sisters clashed with Lanwa’s family, “Amid’s tongue didn’t work well. I didn’t know what to say after thinking about it for a long time.”

Tagore presents the appearance of young radicals in reality through the depiction of these images that pretend to be the pursuit of advanced Western things and try to get rid of their own traditions but are embarrassed. Tagore believes that “many young people adopt cheap practice in literature because this practice is simple. At the same time, they are adventurous for endless and ingenious innovations, which have won a lot of applause.”

In terms of the poetic form of the novel, “The Last Poem”, like Tagore’s other novels, has a common poetic style, showing the writer’s strong poetic temperament. “The rich poetic sentiment runs through almost every work of Tagore. The depiction of the blending of scenes, the imagination of objects, the rendering of poetic and pictorialism, and the method of image comparison can be seen in almost every work of his.” In “The Last Poem” Complementing this poetic novel temperament is the creation and application of a large number of poems. Almost every chapter has poems inserted, some of which are of an argumentative nature, and more are lyrical.

Regarding the form of poetry, Tagore also used the protagonist, Amed, to explain the radical views: “The end of poetry overlord Robin Dranath Tagore has come… We hope that the lines of the new “President of the Poetry Club” will be straight and straight. , Like an arrow, like a spearhead, like a spike-not as soft as a flower, but like an electric current, like a neuralgia… From now on, throw away that nerve-wracking pointlessness Rhythm! Take your heart away from the rhythm.” It can be seen that the young radicals advocate completely abandoning the rhythm of poetry and pursue extreme emotional experience. Favor the alienation in Western modernism.

Tagore’s attitude towards modern Western poetry is also reflected in his literary theory “Modern Poetry”. In comparison with Chinese literature using Li Bai as an example, Tagore commented on modern British poetry in this way: “The poetry of British poets is not simple and natural enough, and is stained with mud. They seem to use their arms to push the readers. This way. The world that the poet sees and expresses is like a broken wall and full of dust. Their hearts are unhealthy and vacillating today.” Obviously the weird, awkward, abnormal and other elements that often appear in modern poetry are similar to Tagore The natural and simple beauty advocated in the traditional sense is at odds, so Tagore is disgusted and denied. However, Tagore is not a writer who stubbornly adhere to the traditional metric. Although he criticizes the spiritual connotation expressed by modern poetry, he has his own views on the form and metric of poetry. In the latter part of his creative career, he also tried the creation of prose poems and free-form poems with modern colors. The “Gitanjali”, which is best known to the world and also won the Nobel Prize in Literature, was translated by the poet in English and in prose form, because after the language conversion, it has rhyme, metric and other aspects. Abandoned. Tagore believes that no matter what the form is, whether it is prose, poetry, or prose poem, all are to convey the feeling of “beauty” with its unique characteristics. “So far, the form of poetry is immutable and lacks The enjoyment of beauty; free poetry not only changed the form of poetry, but also changed our concept of poetry, and even changed its content.”

In “The Last Psalms”, Tagore’s poetry creation is in the form of free poetry. This new form has played a great role in Tagore’s later poetry creation and in overcoming their “modernism” by young poets. It can be seen that Tagore, as a great poet, is very tolerant and flexible in his attitude towards the development of poetry. He does not stick to one pattern, but always follows and grasps the essence of poetry, focusing on the expression of beauty.

Finally, in terms of emotional expression, Tagore has great views on the concepts of “one” and “many” and “harmony”. Traditional Indian literature has always paid attention to the relationship between man and nature. In the literary classics such as “Rigveda” and “Sakon Dara”, nature is used as an aesthetic object, and the rich natural scenes such as grass, wood, water, and clouds are shown. Depiction. Tagore is no exception. In his opinion, there is nothing wrong with the statement “Nature is beautiful”. It is a self-evident truth, because we can really feel it. In “The Last Psalms”, Tagore arranges the place where the protagonist meets, falls in love, and separates in Mount Hiran, so there are a lot of descriptions of natural scenery, and it is shown as the protagonist’s emotional changes in love. Different landscapes. At the beginning, Amed had just arrived at Mount Hiran, and after playing alone for a few days, it felt as boring as in the city. And when he met Lan Wa and was attracted by it, “this time, somehow, Hillang Mountain actually attracted Amed deeply.” In their passionate love, love and scenery are perfectly united: “The woods are dense, and the sun is shaded… Half way, a stream of fine springs does not want to flow down the path. It has a unique path and paved pebbles. …. There happened to be a deep small pool there, and some water was left behind. The water was like a veiled young girl standing under a green curtain, shyly replied, and refused to come out.” This paragraph describes the two people in there. When walking in the mountains and forests, the dense forest surrounded them, setting off Lan Wa’s shyness in a tranquility. The two people’s affection can be expressed through the mountains and rivers without saying, and they are integrated.

On the other hand, Tagore does not have the broad social environment that was usually shown before in this novel. Instead, he concentrates his pen and ink on the relationship between Amed and Lanwa, and no longer involves too many social factors, such as colonial rule, Caste system, feudal bad habits, etc. The novel returns to the pure love theme, mostly in the form of dialogue, expressing the delicate psychology of Amid and Lanwa in the love process.

In the handling of the novel’s ending, Tagore’s unique thoughts are also reflected. The relationship between Amed and Lanwa can be described as twists and turns. Although the two admired each other, the keen Lanwa gradually realized the strange emotions of Amed in love. You wander around longing for love, so you tend to entertain yourself with literature. It is for this reason that prompted you to come to my side…” Until the end, the Amed sisters arrived and directly interfered with the relationship between the two. Towards the end. It can be said that this is a love trial between two immature young people. It is full of the enthusiasm and vitality of young people, and it is as simple as a world of only two people. In the end, the two married separately, but Tagore used Amed’s mouth to explain this seemingly irreconcilable contradiction from another perspective: “Love exists widely in space, and it gives people spiritual comfort. When it is When connected with everything in daily life, it can give people the opportunity to unite, that is to live together. I need both comfort and cohabitation.” The relationship between Amid and Langwa did not break due to the unpleasant separation before. Being hostile and even giving poems to each other at the end expresses the affirmation of cherishing the past and giving true feelings.

This treatment of the ending embodies the “one” and “many” in Tagore’s thoughts and their interrelationships. “Can love be cast according to the fixed patterns in the storybook? No, absolutely not! I will cast my own love story by myself.” In the dialectical unity of “one” and “many”, Amed did not lose anything. On one hand, his own passion and ideal love still exist widely as “many”; and his own choice and his own “creation” have enabled him to obtain his own “one”. The “one” that oneself obtains benefits from the “many”, and the “many” is concretely displayed through the individual’s “one”, thus achieving a state of “harmony”. For this kind of love and this state, Amed also sighed at the end: “How wonderful, my Langwa! How wonderful, my Katie (Amid’s wife)! My Amed is so happy. Now!” In Tagore’s writings, the relationship between these three people transcends the love between the sexes, which is generally concerned by the common world. They coexist in harmony, and they also bring on Tagore’s own unique ideological color. To a certain extent, it is also a response to the erotic descriptions of radical young people who are keen on sensory stimulation.

Tagore did not stop his pace of innovation in his early years. Under the impact and influence of Western literary thoughts, he himself has a profound traditional literary literacy, and he is constantly breaking through himself. With his own practice, he has made his own contribution to the development of literature in the tide of collision between east and west.