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Pather Panchali, song of the road by…

Pather Panchali, song of the road

by Bibhutibhushan Banerji

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Pather Panchali (1)

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1469124,017 (4.16)16



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This Bengali classic, basis for the famous movie of the same name, is the portrayal of the day-to-day life in an impoverished village at the turn of the 20th century as seen through the eyes of a young boy, Opu, and his adored older sister Durga.

In the forward to the edition I read, the translator states:

"Tagore... Presents village life nostalgically as an ideal condition which the modern age is fast losing. In Pather Panchali the village is not idealized; it is not explained or commented on; it is presented as it is, objectively at times, but more often subjectively, by the people who live in it, and more particularly by the two children. There is little formal description. It is not necessary to describe the things one lives with every day; one knows them, as the reader comes to know the village of Nishchindipur, through familiarity."

The novel is episodic; sometimes just an hour has elapsed between chapters, sometimes years. I was fascinated to learn, reading between the lines, what it meant to be of the Brahmin caste in India at that time. Opu's family is Brahmin, but very poor. Their father is a scholar, and earns small amounts infrequently providing his services at religious or other ceremonial events. Most of the time, the family is hungry, and their ramshackle dwelling is falling apart around them. Nevertheless, their Brahmin status gives them certain privileges and status. Again, the poverty and circumstances of Opu's life are just givens--this is not a social document, just the life of one small boy.

Here's a taste of the tone of the book. Opu has been reading in one of his father's ancient volumes a description of the properties of mercury:

"If you put some Mercury in a vulture's egg and leave it in the sun for a few days, and then hold it in the mouth, you can fly high in the sky.
"Opu could not believe his eyes. He read the passage again and again.....
"Astonishing! It was so easy to fly and yet nobody knew about it. Perhaps nobody had a copy of this book except his father. Or it might be that all this time nobody's eye except his own had lighted on this particular place in the book.
"He thrust his nose in the book again and smelt it. That same old smell. It never occurred to him to question the truth of what was written in such a book."

Highly recommended. 5 stars ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Feb 3, 2015 |
It's a pathetic story of life.Heart touching :| ( )
  shofichoudhury | May 3, 2013 |
It's a pathetic story of life.Heart touching :| ( )
  shofichoudhury | May 3, 2013 |
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's classic of Bengali literature, dramatised by Tanika Gupta
( )
  Lnatal | Mar 31, 2013 |
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's classic of Bengali literature, dramatised by Tanika Gupta
( )
  Lnatal | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bibhutibhushan Banerjiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boverhuis, ReinderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark, Thomas WelbourneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mukherji, TarapadaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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