In Your Blossoming Flower-Garden: Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo

In Your Blossoming Flower-Garden: Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo

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Author: Ketaki Kushari Dyson
Publisher: Sahitya Akademi
Year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 477
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8126001747


In November 1924 Rabindranath Tagore disembarked at Buenos Aires with the intention of proceeding to Peru. Weakened by an influenza caught on board, he spent the next two months in a suburban riverside villa made available to him by a young Argentine woman who was devoted admirer of his works: Victoria Ocampo, destined to become one of the most distinguished women of Latin America. A friendship was formed which was to have a deep influence on the life and work of each.

This book, the result of extensive researches in three continents, tells the fascinating story of that rare encounter and explores its numerous ramifications, including the crucial role played in it by Leonard Elmhirst, Tagore’s English secretary who had accompanied him to Argentina and who is distinguished in his own right as one of the builders of Sriniketan and as the co-founder, with his wife, of Dartingto Hall in Devon.

There is a wealth of documentary evidence, including the presentation of valuable archival material, the entire known Tagore-Qcampo correspondence with full annotations, and thirty-three black and white and colored plates, some of which have never been published before.


“Never before in Tagore research have we seen such a constructive effort, with so much attention to detail.... Here we have scholarship as well as liveliness, the courage and the eyes to search, but there is no arrogant desire to say the last word.”
--- Anandabazar Patrika, Calcutta

“... a monumental work....It will please a scholar, as well as the common reader.”
--- Professor Bholabhai Patel, Gujarat University

“... A thoroughness of research and comprehensiveness of material that is exemplary... valuable for its informative content and meticulous methodology.”
--- The Telegraph, Calcutta

“Her meticulous and painstaking research deserves special praise and congratulations. It is not only praiseworthy, but a model to other Tagore researchers.... We hope she will enrich Tagore studies with more work of this order.”
--- Jijnasa, Calcutta

“... Dazzling documentation gathered by K. Kushari Dyson in three continents... It's a fascinating book (no exaggeration) because the author succeeds in placing herself in between personalities so different who, at the same time, present such unexpected similarities.... the information and discernment are exceptional, even more so when we realize that K. Kushari Dyson spent only a short time in Argentina, and only after the death of V.O. This is the only book to date, besides the autobiography, which enables us to get to know the beginnings of the author of Soledad Sonora from close quarters and in a vivid manner. Personally, after reading In Your Blossoming Flower-Garden, I understand V.O. better, I understand better that obscure, tormented side of her personality which she tried to project in her essay Supremacia del alma y de la sangre.”
--- La Nacion, Buenos Aires




An Essay on the Relationship of
Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo:



The Tagore-Ocampo Correspondence





Plate 1 faces the title-page and the rest are between pages 370 and 371. Some of the photographs exist in more than one archival collection, but my precise source in each case is indicated. Plates 25 to 33 are drawings and paintings by Tagore, all from the Santiniketan Collections, the accession number of each in the Rabindra Bhavana being indicated.

1. Victoria Ocampo in front of a flowering bush. Date uncertain. Santiniketan archives.
2. A drypoint etching of Victoria Ocampo done by Helleu in Paris, 1909. Buenos Aires archives.
3. A news item in La Nation of 7 November 1924 announcing Tagore's arrival in Buenos Aires and showing Tagore with Ricardo Rojas. Santiniketan archives.
4. An item about Tagore's stay in Argentina in Radio Cultura, 10-16 November 1924. Inset is the Spanish version of a Tagore song. Santiniketan archives.
5. Miralrio in the twenties, with the tipa tree under which Tagore used to sit. From the Lafuente family.
6. A part of the grounds of Miralrio in the twenties, with a view of the river. From the Lafuente family.
7. Tagore sitting on the veranda of Miralrio. Buenos Aires archives.
8. Tagore in front of Miralrio, with the famous balcony behind him and the tipa tree to his right. Buenos Aires archives.
9. Tagore and Elmhirst outside Miralrio. Santiniketan archives.
10. Tagore and Victoria Ocampo standing in the grounds of Villa Ocampo. Buenos Aires archives.
11. Tagore and Victoria Ocampo in the grounds of Villa Ocampo, Victoria sitting on the grass. Santiniketan archives.
12. Elmhirst in Argentina. Santiniketan archives.
13. The country-house at Chapadmalal. Buenos Aires archives.
14. The bed in which Tagore slept at Chapadmalal. Buenos Aires archives.
15. MS. version of the end of the Purabi poem 'Adekha', written on 7 December 1924, followed by the beginning of an English version qf the same. Santiniketan archives.
16. The rest of the English version of 'Adekha'. Santiniketan archives.
17. MS. draft of the Purabi poem Trabahini', written on 11 December 1924, showing the emergepce of Tagore's pictorial art from MS. erasures and doodlings. Santiniketan archives.
18. Villa Dunure, Cap Martin (where Tagore and Ocampo were re-united in April 1930), viewed from the Mediterranean. Photographed by Auguste L6on, January 1910. Albert Kahn Collections, Boulogne-sur-Seine.
19. The terrace of Villa Dunure, overlooking the sea Photographed by Camille Sauvageot, January-February 1927. Albert Kahn Collections, Boulogne-sur-Seine.
20. Anna de Noailles, the French Minister of Fine Arts, Tagore, Victoria Ocampo, and Francis de Croisset at the Galerie Pigalle, Paris, May 1930, with Tagore's pictures exhibited on the wall. Buenos Aires archives.
21. The last farewell, Paris, May 1930. Buenos Aires archives.
22. Ocampo's letter to Tagore from Mar del Plata, written on the back of a photograph of herself and posted on 25 February 1925 (document no. 20 in this book). Santiniketan archives.
23. The photograph of herself on the back of which Ocampo wrote her letter of 25 February 1925. Santiniketan archives.
24. Tagore's letter to Ocampo, 30 December 1925 (document no. 31 in this book). Santiniketan archives.
25. The face of a woman. 2795.16.
26. A woman sitting on a chair. 3388.16.
27. A composition showing a man and a woman, the woman's head resting on the man's shoulder. 2496.16.
28. A headless nude on a chair. 2567.16.
29. A composition showing a man and a woman, the woman's face lifted up to the man's. 2594.16.
30. A chair-like item on a boat with a human figure. 2041.16.
31. A bearded man on a sofa. 1969.16.
32. A composition showing a chair-cum-animal figure with another figure nestled in it. 2560.16.
33. A composition with a lounge-cum-animal figure with two human figures resting on it. 1979.16.