Modernism in Bengali literature By Bandyopadhyay, Sibaji
Just as ‘modernity’, ‘modernism’ too has variegated histories. Years back—to be precise in 1961—Carl E. Schorske had zeroed in on Vienna to chart out a general chronicle for the European trend of modernism (1981). He claimed, if modernism were to be understood as an intellectual movement with its sights set on cherished nineteenth-century binaries, such as, rationalism and romanticism, individualism and socialism, realism and naturalism, then various twentieth century ‘Viennese Schools’ supplied ample ammunition to batter them all. Schorske’s belief was that the gesture of ‘shaking off the shackles of history’ which most broadly characterized European modernism could be most effectively foregrounded if one hazarded to give a symptomatic reading to the ‘new culture-makers in the city of Freud’.
Needless to say, such an approach for Bengal would prove to be disastrous. Nonetheless, it is worth recording that whatever one may ascribe to the expression ‘Bengali modernism’, it mostly sprang from and flourished in Kolkata, the city of Rabindranath.