Jibanananda Das (17 February, 1899 - 22 October, 1954) is an acclaimed Bengal poet. He is considered one of the precursors who introduced modernist poetry in Bengali Literature, notably when it was evidently influenced by Tagore's Romantic poetry. Alternate spelling Jivanananda Das. Literal meaning of name is Joy (ananda) of Life (Jivan).
He was born in Barisal, Bangladesh in 17 February, 1899. His grandfather, Sarbananda, and his school teacher father, Satyananda, were both part-time preachers in the Brahmo Samaj.
His mother, Kusumkumari Das, started writing poems when she was very young, and some were published in magazines while she was a still a school student.
Jibanananda was educated at Barisal BM College and Calcutta's Presidency College. He then worked as a teacher of English inKolkata. In early 1930s, he was unemployed for several years, earning a meagre amount as a private tutor of school students. His uncles got him jobs, successively, in Assam and Punjab, but he refused to leave Bengal as the pursuit of literature was far more important to him than financial stability. He briefly held teaching posts in Bagerhat and Delhi before returning to Barisal. He was a teacher in the B.M. College in Barisal from 1934 to 1947. This was probably the most productive period of his literary life. After the partition of India in 1947, he returned to Kolkata. In Kolkata again he had to face unemployment for several years before getting a post of lecturer in the Howrah Girls' College in 1953. He died in 1954 after being struck by a tram.
Jibanananda is among the most prominent modernist poets of Bengali literature. His commencement of modernism in Bengali poetrywas contemporaneous with that of West. He is best known for his celebration of the natural beauty and the rural life of Bengal, although his work is shot through with an acute awareness of the evanescence of the soul, of death and decomposition. His poems have a lyrical beauty that have very few parallels in Bangla literature, and to many, his stature as a poet is second only to Tagore.
His later poems, written in the 40s and early 50s, have far more complex character. The Second World War, the Bengal famine of 1943(in which over 3 million people died), the Hindu-Muslim riots, and the partition of India, all have reflections in his later poems. Hishumanism, his love of nature, and his observations about the failures of the human civilisation, gradually evolved into a style that relentlessly laments the human costs of modern civilisation.
His later poems have a lot of comments about political issues and current affairs. The title of the book "Sat-ti Tarar Timir" actually refers to seven flashes from bombs or artillery shells. The "timir" (darkness) is the crisis of the human civilisation during the Second World War.
Jibanananda was an active observer of politics. He visited political rallies of all major political parties to try to understand which way the country was headed after independence. But he observed dishonesty in all the political parties and even in the early years of independence, he felt that corruption was destroying the Indian society.
He wrote about one hundred short stories and more than a dozen novels, but all of them remained unpublished upto 1968. By 2005, most of his stories and novels have been published, and even half a century after his death, many of them have great relevance. The prose style of his fiction conciously avoid structured plots -- he felt that since one's life does not have a defined structure, realistic stories should also lack a planned structure. The publication of the prose writings have considerably widened the appeal of his literary contributions.
He also wrote fifty volumes of diaries, and only small parts of them have been published upto 2006. Many parts of his biography will have to be re-written when the diaries are published.
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