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Stories from Tagore

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(1918)

PREFACE

Every experienced teacher must have noticed the difficulty of instructing Indian children out of books that are specially intended for use in English schools. It is not merely that the subjects are unfamiliar, but almost every phrase has English associations that are strange to Indian ears. The environment in which they are written is unknown to the Indian school boy and his mind becomes overburdened with its details which he fails to understand. He cannot give his whole attention to the language and thus master it quickly.

The present Indian story-book avoids some at least of these impediments. The surroundings described in it are those of the students' everyday life; the sentiments and characters are familiar. The stories are simply told, and the notes at the end will be sufficient to explain obscure passages. It should be possible for the Indian student to follow the pages of the book easily and intelligently. Those students who have read the stories in the original will have the further advantage of knowing beforehand the whole trend of the narrative and thus they will be able to concentrate their thoughts on the English language itself.

It is proposed to publish together in a single volume the original stories whose English translations are given in this Reader. Versions of the same stories in the different Indian vernaculars have already appeared, and others are likely to follow.

Two of the longest stories in this book—"Master Mashai" and "The Son of Rashmani"—are reproduced in English for the first time. The rest of the stories have been taken, with slight revision, from two English volumes entitled "The Hungry Stones" and "Mashi." A short paragraph has been added from the original Bengali at the end of the story called "The Postmaster." This was unfortunately omitted in the first English edition.

The list of words to be studied has been chosen from each story in order to bring to notice different types of English words. The lists are in no sense exhaustive. The end in view has been to endeavour to create an interest in Indian words and their history, which may lead on to further study.


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