Lecture by Sukanta Chaudhuri
Bichitra, the Rabindranath Tagore online variorum and the world’s largest integrated literary database, posed some major challenges in its creation. Apart from the general conceptualizing of the site, its makers had to carry out a major exercise in file management, largely designed as they went along. An indic font like Bengali, the language of most of Tagore’s writings, carried its own set of issues. A number of new programs had to be devised: for transcription, for the hyperconcordance, above all for an ambitious three-tier collation program. All this was in addition to the sheer size of the task: processing some 140,000 pages of primary material, over 47,500 pages of it in manuscript.
At the same time, Bichitra raises new problems and possibilities that call for more exploration. How can this vast corpus be analysed? What new insights might such analysis offer into the nature of texts?
This presentation will offer a guided tour of the Bichitra site, and suggest some exciting new investigations for which it may serve as the launching-ground.
Sukanta Chaudhuri is Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, and Founder-Director of Jadavpur’s School of Cultural Texts and Records, the home of the Bichitra project. His principal fields of study are the English and European Renaissance and textual studies. He is the author of, among other titles, Infirm Glory: Shakespeare and the Renaissance Image of Man (Clarendon Press, 1981), Renaissance Pastoral and Its English Developments (Clarendon Press, 1989) and The Metaphysics of Text (CUP, 2010). He has edited Pastoral Poetry of the English Renaissance, 2 vols. (Manchester, 2016) and is preparing A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Third Arden Shakespeare. He has translated widely from Bengali into English and from English and Italian into Bengali, and is General Editor of the Oxford Tagore Translations.