The variorum edition of Tagore’s writings, which includes all manuscripts and all editions of his works, has just been completed in the city. It also happens to be the largest database in the world of original texts by a single author.
The project boasts of 47,520 pages of manuscripts and 91,637 pages of materials from printed texts. A young team worked on a tight schedule under the supervision of Sukanta Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University, at the university’s School of Cultural Texts and Records, to complete the project in two years.
How Tagore could write all that he did in one lifetime is a question that still begs an answer. So the task of bringing all that he wrote and their several versions — Tagore’s works often had many versions as he kept working on a piece through the years — into one website was, even as an idea, mindboggling.
Bichitra can help one locate on one page of the well-designed, bright, user-friendly website, all the versions of a text, and narrow down the choice to comparing corresponding chapters and paragraphs of different versions of a text. The reader can even look for a particular word in the various versions. A paragraph, highlighted in different colours, will show if a word is common to all versions; if it has a comparable counterpart in the other versions; if it’s only present in the version that’s being checked; or if it is not there in this version but present in the other versions.
Bichitra also says, adds Chaudhuri, that there is no definitive version of a work. The poet keeps visiting a work from time to time, changing it, adding to it. The vastness and the changefulness of the variorum come close to reflecting the vastness and changefulness of Tagore’s mind. It is the living work.
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Image Source : Cea. / Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology