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Jelnikar, Ana (2009) Towards universalism: Rabindranath Tagore and Srecko Kosovel: A joint perspective in a disjointed world. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is the first in-depth exploration of the connection between the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and the Slovene poet Srecko Kosovel (1904- 1926). It proceeds from a key observation that, in spite of their differences, they share a worldview that derives from a structurally similar positioning within their respective historical situations. Both wrote from the awareness of their region's subjugated status and endorsed an anti-imperialist stance that rejected nationalism as a viable means of liberation, embracing instead a creative universalist ideal. While seeking to establish the reasons, relevance, and manner in which Tagore inspired Kosovel, the thesis also traces broader parallels and shared concerns between the two poets, situating their "universalisms" in their respective culture-historical contexts. The introduction and chapter one lay out the comparative and theoretical framework, exploring "universalism" in its embattled relationship with "nationalism" in the context of anti-imperialist/colonial struggles to arrive at a workable definition with which to approach the two poets. Part II looks at the personal and historical factors shaping Tagore's theory and practice of liberation, as he came to reject nationalism and deconstruct the binary logic of colonial modernity so as to reposition India and the individual in a global framework. The importance of his post-Nobel Prize travels for his world vision is explored in conjunction with Tagore's reputation in the West, particularly in Europe's Central and Eastern peripheries, such as Slovenia. Part III introduces Kosovel and establishes the framework conjoining the two poets across the vastly different culturo-geographic space. Kosovel's reading of Tagore is framed through the paradigms of (cross-colonial) situational identifications and global modernity. It proposes a new reading of Kosovel's poetry, analyzing Kosovel's shift from a romantic to modernist sensibility in the light of his endorsement of Tagore's universalist idea(l)s.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:15

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