Major poet and novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay (born 1934) won the Sahitya Akademi award for Sei Samay (Those Days) in 1982. It is set in the nineteenth-century Bengal Renaissance during which a number of litterateurs and social reformers set the agenda for a new Bengal and a new India. One literary giant of the period was Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824–1873), who is “Madhu” in Sei Samay. Dutt was fascinated by the West, and all his early writings were in English. His extant letters to Gourdas Basak, from his days at Hindu College in 1837 to the year before his death in 1873, which are one of Gangopadhyay’s main sources for his depiction of the relationship in the novel, are all in English. His poems in English regularly appeared in leading Calcutta periodicals. Dutt converted to Christianity in 1843. Some time later he switched to writing in Bengali and produced seven plays, five long poems and innumerable short ones. His most famous poem is Meghnadbodh Kavya (1861), a retelling of the Ramayana story with Ravana’s son Meghnad as the hero instead of Rama. Dutt’s introduction of blank verse into Bengali poetry, his superb handling of metrics, use of numerous Sanskrit words, and skill in dramatic characterization considerably enriched Bengali literature.
KeywordsDust Expense Cali Verse Indigo
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- 2.Thomas Moore ed., The Life, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, 2 vols (London: John Murray, 1830). For an account of Lord Byron’s erotic relationships with men and the way he became a cult figure of sorts among homoerotically inclined men in nineteenth-cen-tury England, see Louis Crompton, Byron and Greek Love (Berkeley: University of Cali-fornia Press, 1985). Like Dutt, Byron too wrote love poems to men and changed the male to female pronouns before publication. In a letter to Gour dated November 25, 1842, Dutt writes: “I am reading Tom Moore’s Life of my favorite Byron—a splendid book upon my word!” He then goes on to imagine a time when Gour will write his biography as the Irish poet Moore did Byron’s. In fact, Dutt’s first official biography, Madhusmriti (Memories of Madhu) by Nagendranath Shome (Calcutta: Gurudas Cattopadhyaya, 1954), was written with Gour’s help and contained as an appendix Dutt’s letters to Gour.Google Scholar