Rabindranath Tagore made a significant contribution to literature. He was the first person (except Roosevelt) outside Europe to get the Nobel Prize. He wrote novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, and thousands of songs. He is well known as a poet. His short stories are very popular. His works have a rhythmic, optimistic, and lyrical nature. Mostly the subject matter for his stories is derived from the lives of ordinary people.
He wrote his first original dramatic piece when he was 20. Valmiki Pratibha, Visarjan, and Chandalika are some well-known dramas written by him. He used more philosophical and allegorical themes in his later dramas.
Short Stories :
He wrote his first short story, 'Bhikharini' or The Beggar Woman, when he was 16 years old. He invented the Bengali language short story genre. From 1891 to 1895, known as Tagore's 'Sadhana' period, he wrote the three-volume, Galpaguchchha which contains eighty-four stories. These stories showcase Tagore's reflections about his surroundings, on modern and fashionable ideas, and on interesting mind puzzles. These stories were connected with the life of Tagore in the common villages. While managing the vast landholdings of the family he beheld the lives of India's poor and common people. He examined their lives with a penetrative depth and feeling that was singular in Indian literature up to that point. Stories like 'Kabuliwallah' - The Fruitseller from Kabul published in 1892, 'Kshudita Pashan' - The Hungry Stones, August 1895, and 'Atithi - The Runaway, 1895 showed this analytic focus on the downtrodden.
Tagore's stories have furnished subject matter for numerous successful films and theatrical plays. The famous film director Satyajit Ray based his film 'Charulata' - The Lonely Wife, on the story 'Nastanirh' - The Broken Nest. Ray made a memorable film by putting the stories, 'Samapti', 'Postmaster' and 'Monihara' together. The film was named Teen Kanya - 'Three Daughters'. Tapan Sinha, another noted film director made a film on the story, 'Atithi'.
In the story, 'Haimanti', Tagore takes up the institution of Hindu marriage. The 'Strir Patra' describes the dismal lifelessness of Bengali women after marriage and how Haimanti, a sensitive young woman, due to her sensitiveness and free spirit sacrifices her life. In 'Musalmanir golpo' he examines the Hindu Muslim tensions. 'Darpaharan' describes a young man who has literary ambitions and wants to curb his wife's literary career. But finally accepts his wife's talents.
Chaturanga, Gora, Shesher Kobita, Ghare Baire, Char Odhay, and Noukadubi are some of his novels. Shesher Kobita was translated twice, once as Last Poem and another time as Farewell Song. It is the most lyrical and satirical novel.
Tagore's best-known collection of poetry is Gitanjali. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 for it. 'Manasi', 'Sonar Tori' - Golden Boat, 'Balaka' - Wild Geese are some other notable works.
Rabindranath Tagore is considered as the pioneer of Bangla literature and culture.