A Genealogy of the Ibis Trilogy

Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Bengali Culture





Amitav Ghosh, Ibis Trilogy, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray


A Genealogy of the Ibis Trilogy: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Bengali Culture

The tension between a local dimension and a more cosmopolitan one has become increasingly crucial in Amitav Ghosh’s writing. Whereas his earlier works,
such as In an Antique Land, tended towards what was defined as a “subaltern cosmopolitanism” (Hawley 2005; Grewal 2007), more recent novels show attention for a local dimension as well: Bengal. In Bengali cultural tradition, nationalism and cosmopolitanism have always been at the centre of poetic reflection. The influence of this cultural and artistic tradition on Ghosh’s works can hardly be overestimated. Therefore, an examination of how nationalism and cosmopolitanism were dealt with by Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray will contribute to the full understanding of Ghosh’s work.
In particular, this paper will demonstrate how Amitav Ghosh, despite his increased focus on the local, does not embrace nationalism, as Bankimchandra Chatterjee, but reproduces the situation of “ideological liminality” (Saha 2013: 21) between the local and the global that can be found in the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray.

PlumX Metrics of this article


Bhattacharya, S. 2010. Jatiyo Itihaas vis-à-vis Manaab Itihaas: Tagore the Historiographer. Rupkatha: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 2 (4): 418–27.

Chakrabarty, D. 2004. Romantic Archives: Literature and the Politics of Identity in Bengal. Critical Inquiry, 30 (3): 654–682.

Chakrabarty, D. and A. Ghosh. 2002. A Correspondence on Provincializing Europe. Radical History Review, 83 (1): 146–72.

Chakravorty, M. 2012. Picturing The Postmaster: Tagore, Ray and the Making of an Uncanny Modernity. Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, 53 (1): 117–46.

Chatterjee, B. 2006. Anandamath. New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks.

Cooper, D. 1990. Review. Film Quarterly, 43 (2): 40–43.

Dirks, N. B. 1993. The Home and the World: the Invention of Modernity in Colonial India. Visual Anthropology Review, 9 (2): 19–31.

Ghosh, A. 1998. The Testimony of My Grandfather’s Bookcase. AmitavGhosh.

com. Accessed: 21/04/2015. http://www.amitavghosh.com/essays/bookcase.html

Ghosh, A. 2001a. The Shadow Lines . Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publisher.

Ghosh, A. 2001b The Glass Palace. London: Harper Collins.

Ghosh, A. 2004. Satyajit Ray. AmitavGhosh.com. Online: http://www.amitavghosh.com/essays/satyajit.html, accessed on: 21.04.2015.

Ghosh, A. 2005. The Hungry Tide. London: Harper Collins.

Ghosh, A. 2008. Sea of Poppies. London: John Murray.

Ghosh, A. 2009. In an Antique Land. Delhi: Penguin Books India.

Ghosh, A. 2011. River of Smoke. London: John Murray.

Ghosh, A. 2012. Of Fanàs and Forecastles: The Indian Ocean and Some Lost Languages of the Age of Sail. AmitavGhosh.com. Online: http:// amitavghosh.com/blog/?p=5171, accessed on: 28.09.2014.

Grewal, I. 2007. Amitav Ghosh: Cosmopolitanism, Literature, Transnationalism. In: The Postcolonial and the Global. R. Krishnaswam and J. C. Hawley (Eds). Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Gupta, S. 2006. Notions of Nationhood in Bengal: Perspectives on Samaj, 1867–1905. Modern Asian Studies, 40 (2): 273–302.

Hawley, J. C. 2005. Amitav Ghosh. New Delhi: Foundation Books.

Kumar, T. V. 2007. ‘Postcolonial Describes You as a Negative’: An Interview with Amitav Ghosh. Interventions, 9 (1): 99–105.

Lukács, G. 1962. The Historical Novel. London: Merlin Press.

Lipner, J. J. 2005. Introduction. In: Anandamath or the Sacred Brotherhood. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Mondal, A. A. 2007. Amitav Ghosh. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Nussbaum, M. 2011. Reinventing the Civil Religion: Comte, Mill, Tagore. Victorian Studies, 54 (1): 7–34.

Paranjape, M. R. 2012. Beyond the subaltern syndrome: Amitav Ghosh and the crisis of the bhadrasamaj. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 47 (3): 357–374.

Pillai, S. 2008. Re-addressing the Cast of Nation, Gender and Desire in Anandamath. South Asian Review, 29 (3): 29–55.

Restelli, M. 2012. Influenze di Rabindranath Tagore nella cinematografia di Satyajit Ray. Tagore: Sommo Poeta dell’India Moderna. Venezia: VAIS - Il Cerchio.

Charulata. Directed by Satyajit Ray. (1964; Janus Film/Criterion Collection: 2013). DVD.

Ghare-Baire [The Home and the World]. Directed by Satyajit Ray. (1984; Janus Film/Criterion Collection: 2013). DVD.

Saha, P. 2013. Singing Bengal into a Nation: Tagore the Colonial Cosmopolitan?. Journal of Modern Literature, 36 (2): 1–24.

Sankaran, C. (ed.). 2012. History, Narrative, and Testimony in Amitav Ghosh’s Fiction. Albany: SUNY Press.

Sen, A. 1996. Satyajit Ray and the Art of Universalism. The New Republic, April, 1. Online: http://satyajitray.ucsc.edu/articles/sen.html, accessed on: 17.06.2014.

Sen, A. 2001. Tagore and His India. The New York Review, August, 28. Online: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1913/tagorearticle.html, accessed on: 26.09.2014

Srivastava, N. 2008. Secularism in the Postcolonial Indian Novel: National and Cosmopolitan Narratives in English. New York: Routledge.

Swidler, A. 1986. Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies. American Sociological Review, 51 (2): 273–286.

Tagore, R. 1907. World Literature. In: World Literature in Theory. D. Damrosch (Ed.). 2014. Malden: Wiley Blackwell: 47–57.

Tagore, R. 1931. The Religion of Man. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Tagore, R. 2004. The Home and the World. Project Gutenberg. Online: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7166, accessed on: 17.06.2014.




How to Cite

Beretta , Carlotta. 2015. “A Genealogy of the Ibis Trilogy: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Bengali Culture”. Cracow Indological Studies 17 (December):249-68. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.17.2015.17.13.