By D. H. Lawrence
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Extra resources for Love Among the Haystacks
Such stories are just as full of pathos, grief, anguish and terror as the more naturalistic tales. They are also full of humour and irony – and this is another aspect of Tagore’s realism that is found in both ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ stories. In many the narrator of the story is a shallow, jaunty, self-regarding individual, who is changed and deepened by the events of the story, or by a story told to him by someone else. This ‘Ancient Mariner’ technique is particularly characteristic of the supernatural tales, as if Tagore was concerned to place the fantastic and other-worldly within an ordinary, realistic frame.
Tagore was friendly with a local postmaster: early on, a post office was actually situated in a ground-floor room of the family house at Sajadpur. But the real postmaster does not seem to correspond with the postmaster in Tagore’s famous story of that name: it is hard to imagine the dreamy, lonely postmaster of the story telling this amusing anecdote: Yesterday he told me that the local people so revered the Ganges that if a relative died they would grind his bones into powder and keep it; then, if anyone came who had drunk the waters of the Ganges, they would mix the bone-powder with his drink and, by so doing, imagine that part of their dead relative had mingled with the Ganges.
As always I must acknowledge the support of friends. Sujata Chaudhuri, Ranjana Ash and the late Subhendusekhar Mukhopadhyay answered my translation queries (the last named also gave me special help with the notes in Appendix B), and Prasanta Kumar Paul – Tagore’s leading contemporary biographer – gave me vital advice while I was working on the Introduction. I must also thank Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London for making it possible for me to go to Santiniketan for six weeks in March and April 1989.