Tagore — The Home and the World

The book is like a diamond sparkling many facettes. I retain the opposition between patriotism and cosmopolitanism – an opposition also noticed by Martha Nussbaum in her article “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” published in the Boston Review, 1994.

“I am willing,” he said, “to serve my country; but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.”

A woman, Bimala, has been married to Nikhil, a notable, for nine years, when comes at home another man and friend of Nikhil, political radicalist Sandip. Bimala is soon metaphorically nicknamed “Queen Bee”, that is the queen of the national hive. She is tempted by the passion of patriotism represented by Sandip, whereas her husband represents a certain cosmopolitan wisdom, cold and dispassionate. The action mainly takes place at home, and the world outside the home is affected by “Queen”‘s wavering behaviour. She falls rapidly in intellectual and sentimental infatuation for Sandip. However, this leads her to actions she regrets. Attempting to correct the course of actions set, she sends her brother Amulya to death.

Not directly related to this novel, my personal concern is to investigate historically how this opposition came into being. In this book, patriotism is associated with sentiments, infatuation, sensuality, desire, conquering, lying, radical change, concrete and direct principles, partisanship, for the greater good of the community. Cosmopolitanism is associated with truth, reason, dispassionate reflection, abstract ideas, long-term goals, moral standards, stability, for the good of everyone. Where does this cosmopolitan understanding of patriotism come from? And inversely, where does a patriotic understanding of cosmopolitanism as betrayal of one’s homeland, etc. come from?

My contention is that these positions are discursively situated inside modernity, that they are related to nationalism, and that they appeared in the long aftermath of the French revolution.

Advertisements

About Frank Ejby Poulsen

Education: MRes History, European University Institute, Florence, Italy. MSc Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. LLM International law and EU law, University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France. Academia Profile: http://eui.academia.edu/FrankEjbyPoulsen Languages: French: Mother tongue Danish: C2 English: C2 German: B1-B2 Spanish: A2-B1 Norwegian and Swedish: reading comprehension
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Cosmopolitanism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s