The letters translated in this book span the most productive period of my
literary life, when, owing to great good fortune, I was young and less
Youth being exuberant and leisure ample, I felt the writing of letters
other than business ones to be a delightful necessity. This is a form of
literary extravagance only possible when a surplus of thought and emotion
accumulates. Other forms of literature remain the author's and are made
public for his good; letters that have been given to private individuals
once for all, are therefore characterised by the more generous
It so happened that selected extracts from a large number of such letters
found their way back to me years after they had been written. It had been
rightly conjectured that they would delight me by bringing to mind the
memory of days when, under the shelter of obscurity, I enjoyed the
greatest freedom my life has ever known.
Since these letters synchronise with a considerable part of my published
writings, I thought their parallel course would broaden my readers'
understanding of my poems as a track is widened by retreading the same
ground. Such was my justification for publishing them in a book for my
countrymen. Hoping that the descriptions of village scenes in Bengal
contained in these letters would also be of interest to English readers,
the translation of a selection of that selection has been entrusted to one
who, among all those whom I know, was best fitted to carry it out.
20th June 1920.