Book Review: Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore

The first English translation of: Chokher Bali appeared in the year 1914. Rabindranath Tagore earlier used the title Binodini for it, and the novel was written by him between 1898 to 1901. Though published in the early twentieth century, Chokher Bali is the expression of slightly earlier times. That was the turning point of change happening in India – when the culture of the youth began to move into the urban spaces; Zamindari – the landlord system was slowly losing to the city attracting new professions, such as, medicine, law, government positions.

Chokher Bali has Mahendra training as a doctor who belongs to an affluent background; his friend, Bihari, gives up the medical studies to establish a charitable hospital.

The female characters in the book are Asha who is married to Mahendra; Binodini is a short-term visitor in the household – who is a widow from a very young age. Demonstrating the complexity of the plot, and the characterization of the people in Chokher Bali, the story weaves into the socio-cultural conditions prevailing at that time. It is distinctly a moving story of the period when oppressive effects of widowhood plagued the Indian society. Chokher Bali is real and sensitive.

Geeta Chhabra


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