Tagore-Ocampo relation, a new dimension
Revista Científica Arbitrada de la Fundación MenteClara, vol.. 3, no. 2, 2018
Fundación MenteClara


© 2018 RCAFMC - Este artículo de acceso abierto es distribuido bajo los términos de la licencia Creative Commons Atribución 4.0 Internacional.

Received: 23 May 2018

Accepted: 27 June 2018


Abstract: The mystic love between the Indian Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore and the great Argentine intellectual Victoria Ocampo has been a matter of deep interest among erudite circles all over the world ever since they happened to meet in San Isidro, Argentina in 1924. This meeting was a chance incident – Tagore on way to Peru being held up at Buenos Aires on account of a bad Influenza attack. Although Ocampo had developed a deep spiritual interest in Tagore and his philosophy since she had read in 1914 Andre Gide’s French translation of Gitanjali, the Nobel awarded book of poetry by Tagore, she could hardly imagine that she would ever have any opportunity to meet in real life Tagore, her idol of worship. As the Argentine physicians advised Tagore full rest till complete recovery, Ocampo prompted to host him along with his honourary secretary Leonard Elmhirst at Villa Miralrio at San Isidro. Here Tagore was held up for two months (November-December, 1924) in course of which the close relation between Tagore and Ocampo developed. They could meet only once more for a short time in Paris, but the relation continued through regular correspondence till Tagore’s demise in 1941. Various authors writing books or articles on the relation between Tagore and Ocampo have looked upon the relation from various angles, but most of them have failed to grasp the quintessence of the relation as they have overlooked the intellectual heights and spiritual inclinations of Tagore and Ocampo. Therefore, they have looked upon the matter from the standpoint of amorous relation between ordinary male and female. A deeper insight, however, would bring to the fore the fact that, because of their intellectual heights, cosmopolitan world outlook and spiritual inclinations, the relation between Tagore and Ocampo transcended to an extra-mundane spiritual plane. In fact, it cannot be denied that the relation had subterranean binding factor of Freudian passion between man and woman, but at the same time, because of the intellectual heights and depth of their thought process, it ascended to a higher plane and assumed surrealistic dimensions spurring each to over-enthusiastic intellectual activities.This article endeavours to venture into this mystic and surrealistic aspect of love between Tagore and Ocampo, which has not hitherto been explored fully.

Keywords: Rabindranathagore, Victoria Ocampo, San Isidro, Miralrio, Villaocampo, vijaya, purabi, academicfriendship, mystyclove, mutualinspiration, amigos académicos, amor místico.

Resumen: El amor místico entre el poeta indio ganador del Premio Nobel Rabindranath Tagore y la gran intelectual argentina Victoria Ocampo ha sido un asunto de profundo interés entre círculos eruditos de todo el mundo desde que se conocieron en San Isidro, Argentina, en 1924. Esta reunión fue accidental: Tagore camino a Perú detenido en Buenos Aires a causa de un mal ataque de Influenza. Aunque Ocampo había desarrollado un profundo interés espiritual en Tagore y su filosofía desde que leyó en 1914 la traducción francesa de André Gide de Gitanjali, del libro de poesía de Tagore, premiado con el Nobel, difícilmente podía imaginarse que alguna vez tendría la oportunidad de encontrarse personalmente con su ídolo de adoración. Como los médicos argentinos le recomendaron a Tagore un completo descanso hasta su total recuperación, Ocampo se ofreció a recibirlo junto con su secretario honorario Leonard Elmhirst en Villa Miralrio en San Isidro. Aquí Tagore fue retenido durante dos meses (noviembre-diciembre de 1924) en el curso del cual se desarrolló la estrecha relación entre Tagore y Ocampo. Podrían reunirse una vez más por un corto tiempo en París, pero la relación continuó a través de la correspondencia regular hasta la desaparición de Tagore en 1941. Varios autores que escribieron libros o artículos, sobre la relación entre Tagore y Ocampo han considerado la relación desde varios ángulos, pero la mayoría de ellos no han captado la quintaesencia de la relación ya que han pasado por alto las alturas intelectuales y las inclinaciones espirituales de Tagore y Ocampo. Por lo tanto, han considerado el asunto desde el punto de vista de la relación amorosa entre el hombre y la mujer ordinarios. Una visión más profunda, sin embargo, resaltaría el hecho de que, debido a sus alturas intelectuales, su cosmopolita perspectiva mundial y sus inclinaciones espirituales, la relación entre Tagore y Ocampo trascendió a un plano espiritual extraterrenal. De hecho, no se puede negar que la relación tenía un factor subterráneo vinculante de pasión freudiana entre el hombre y la mujer, pero al mismo tiempo, debido a las alturas intelectuales y la profundidad de su proceso de pensamiento, ascendió a un plano superior y asumió dimensiones surrealistas estimulando a cada uno a actividades intelectuales excesivamente entusiastas. Este artículo se esfuerza por aventurarse en este aspecto místico y surrealista del amor entre Tagore y Ocampo, que hasta ahora no ha sido explorado completamente.


The legendary relation between the Nobel Laureate Indian Poet Rabindranath Tagore and the great Argentine intellectual Victoria Ocampo has been of much interest all over the world, and has been depicted from various angles highlighting different dimensions of the relation. Most of the works on the matter suffer from a serious shortcoming. This is mainly due to the fact that most of these authors lack the deep insight into the extra-mundane and sublimated aspects of the relation and therefore have mostly looked upon the relation from the standpoint of relation between ordinary man and woman and have failed to grasp the intellectual height and spiritual subtleties of the relation.

In this article our objective is to highlight this hitherto unexplored dimension of relation between Tagore and Ocampo. The relation developed in course of only two months when Tagore was compelled, owing to illness, to stay as a guest of Ocampo at Miralrio at San Isidro near Buenos Aires.

Notwithstanding the fact that they had the opportunity to meet only once more at Paris for a very short time a few years after the first encounter, the relation left a very deep and lasting impression on both and its inspiring role remained intact till the dying day of each (Tagore in 1941 and Ocampo in 1979).

Although they did not have opportunity to meet again after 1930 they continued correspondence regularly till Tagore’s demise in 1941. The relation enriched both and added new dimensions to their creative activities.

In fact, it cannot be denied that the relation had subterranean binding factor of humanoid love between man and woman, but at the same time, because of the intellectual heights and depth of their thought process, it ascended to a higher plane and assumed surrealistic dimensions spurring each to over-enthusiastic intellectual activities.

Family Background

Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)

Ramona Victoria Epifanía Rufina Ocampo (7 April 1890 – 27 January 1979)

The family background of Tagore and Ocampo had similarities and also dissimilarities. Each sprang from a highly aristocratic family, renowned throughout the respective countries and well connected with the aristocratic and influential circles.

However, as Argentina was then free from the Spanish rule, the family of Ocampo was influential in the political arena of the country and had good relations with the ruling class of the newly independent Argentina. On the other hand, India being still under British rule, Tagore’s family could not have any important role in politics of the British colony.

The most striking difference between the two families was that the liberal academic milieu of Rabindranath’s family highly contrasted with the orthodox and conservative ambience of Victoria’s family. Tagore’s family contributed overwhelmingly to the academic, intellectual and creative pursuits of Rabindranath. The amicable family atmosphere had much to do with the flourishing of his versatile creativity and cosmopolitan liberal world outlook.

On the other hand, the orthodox and conservative family atmosphere of Ocampo had been almost suffocating for Victoria. It, in fact, was a serious constraint on blossoming of her congenital creative and intellectual talents. She was like a caged bird enticed by the vast sky and intending to get free from the shackles and explore the vast world around her. Her congenital liberal and free mind came into serious conflict with the suffocating orthodoxy and religious conservatism of the family and the influential circle to which her family belong.

Gitanjali of Tagore for the first time opened up the door of the free and liberal world she had hankered after.

Tagore sprang from a zaminder (Bengal variety of landlord in British India) family, but it was radically different from most of the zaminder families which had been bogged in the quagmire of all sorts of crude feudalistic pleasures (wine, women, gambling etc.) which unearned income (extorted from poor peasants) could afford.

Tagore’s family, had been, for a long time, associated with intellectual and creative activities, enlightenment and religious and social reforms, and played a foremost role in Bengal renaissance. The family took initiative in publications of literary magazines and initiated performance of stage drama and regular recitals of Indian and Western classical music. The most mention worthy personality in this regard was Rabindranath’s father, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore who left no stone unturned to gather together, within the compass of Tagore family from all corners of the country, teachers and maestros in all conceivable branches of knowledge, and creative disciplines. The influence of these great teachers and intellectuals had a remarkable impact on the children of Tagore family. They had a great contribution to the emergence of geniuses (like Abanindranath, Balendranath, Gaganendranath, Dinendranath, Satyendranath etc.) in many branches of academic and creative activities.

Victoria’s family, on the other hand, was obsessed with Hispanic orthodoxy and Catholic morality. Eldest Victoria and all her other five sisters were brought up in an atmosphere of suffocative restrictions – forbidden to go out without chaperons, refrained from reading books considered to be immoral and many similar restrictions. The family norms shattered in her childhood her strong desire to be an actress. So she was compelled to take up writing to ventilate her intellectual and creative capabilities. Her family and society forbade any career for a woman besides that of a docile wife.

All these suffocated Victoria, a congenital and incorrigible liberal intellectual with cosmopolitan world outlook. The family with an endeavor to make her a good wife gave her to marriage with Bernando de Estrada. The marriage was a disaster and in 1920, the couple separated (although she never got a divorce as it was contrary to norms of her social circle) and got involved in passionate and long-lasting affair with Julián Martínez, the cousin of her husband. She had to keep this a strict secret because this sort of activity was looked upon by her family and society as an unpardonable sin. All these were disquieting for her and generated great emotional pressure on her mind.

Under this condition of mental upheaval, Tagore’s Nobel awarded work, Gitanjali, appeared as a great reliever to Victoria. Later on, the two months of her close intellectual association with Rabindranath opened up the door of light and freedom in her life. Tagore and his work also gave her the opportunity to get entry into the holistic and cosmopolitan world of Indian philosophy and spiritualism. In this arena she was also deeply influenced by thoughts of the great Indian savant, Mahatma Gandhi.


As regards education, there was a striking similarity between Tagore and Ocampo. None of them had formal education and institutional degrees. However, education outside the walls of academic institutions through private tutors and self teaching could raise their intellectual capabilities and levels of knowledge to highest conceivable levels.

Tagore had strong aversion to formal education. He was sent to Presidency College, Calcutta, but he abandoned college only after one day. However, at home he got the opportunity of having all sorts of education from private tutors each of whom was an expert in his area. This education included theoretical subjects of science and humanities streams and practical trainings in painting, swimming, anatomy, gymnastics, wrestling etc.

Maharshi Debendranath expected Rabindranath to be a barrister at law. So he was enrolled at a law school in England, but here also he discontinued study of law. Instead he resorted to self tutoring in Shakespeare and folk music of the country which he, later on, incorporated in his musical compositions. After his return to Bengal he got fully engrossed in creative activities -- poems, short stories, dramas, musical compositions, articles on various subjects including religion, philosophy, politics and travelogues.

Victoria had her education under the guidance of French and English governesses. Because of education in foreign languages from the very beginning she was more comfortable in French and English than her mother tongue Spanish which she considered to be unworthy of creative activities. So her first cultural language was French, second English, and her mother tongue Spanish was only for daily conversation. She soon had a command over French and English literature. Besides, she also learnt Italian and acquired a good knowledge of Italian literature.

All these education and knowledge came from private tutors or self-tutoring and none from formal institutional study.

Another aspect of her non-institutional education was education through travel which was very common for children of her society. She visited Europe twice for this purpose, attended various lectures, but never got enrolled in educational institutions.

Thus we see that neither Tagore nor Ocampo had any formal academic degree but both created academic or cultural institutions which had profound impacts on the education and culture of their respective countries – Tagore through Santiniketan, Sriniketan and Visvabharati University and Ocampo through her magazine Sur (meaning south).

Intellectual Activities

Tagore (A detailed list, although not exhaustive, of his works is given in appendix).

Tagore was a versatile genius and his works had encompassed most of the important fields of creative disciplines – poetry, novels, novelettes, short stories, dramas, musical dramas, dance dramas, songs and musical compositions, travelogues, articles embracing politics, philosophy, religion, science, literary criticism, economics, education, sociology, environment & ecology and host of other topics. At post sixty he ventured into the arena of expressionistic painting and incidentally, the first international exhibition of his paintings in Paris was organized by Victoria Ocampo. The most striking aspect of Tagore’s intellectual pursuits is that in all the fields he touched upon, he may be listed with the greats.

Tagore’s activities did not remain confined to writings and theoretical works alone. He came down to the practical world and established Visvabharati University at Santiniketan in Bengal (now at Bolpur in the Birbhum District of West Bengal). The basic motto of this university was to impart education that would provide real knowledge having practical utility instead of mechanistic parrot like knowledge imparted in most of the other universities in Bengal. At Sriniketan, close to Santiniketan, he endeavoured to undertake experiments in the arenas of agriculture, rural craft industries and rural cooperatives.


Between 1923 and 1930 Ocampo wrote several books. Her first book De Francesca à Beatrice (1923), a commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy, was written in French, the language of her first choice. Other books written by Ocampo during this period include

Domingos en Hyde Park

El Hamlet de Laurence Olivier

Emily Brontë (Terra incógnita)

A series called Testimonios (ten volumes)

Virginia Woolf, Orlando y Cía

San Isidro

Lawrence of Arabia, a biography of T. E. Lawrence

A posthumously published autobiography

An edited book of dialogues between Ocampo and Borges.

Tagore En Las Barrancas De San Isidro (1961)

She, as an Argentine intellectual, got the greatest acclaim as the founder (1931) and publisher of the magazine Sur which had a profound impact on the culture and intellectual pursuits of Argentina during pre-Second World War and post-War period.

Ocampo was at first an admirer of Adolph Hitler but soon was disenchanted and edited from Argentina in collaboration with her friend and translator, Pelegrina Pastorino, the anti-Nazi magazine “Lettres Francaises”. In 1946 she was the only Argentinean who attended the Nuremberg Trials.

In 1953, Ocampo was briefly imprisoned for her open opposition to the regime of Juan Domingo Perón.


Member of Argentine Academy of Letters since 1977

Maria Moors Cabot prize

Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Doctor honoris causa – Harvard University, Columbia University

Premio de Honor de la SADE

Gold Medal – Académie française

The intellectual and creative pursuits of Tagore and Ocampo reflect some common psychological and emotional factors, e.g., both dad deep love for nature, both were cosmopolitan in outlook, both were humanistic, both were liberal as regards religion and both had deep spiritual inclinations.

The Encounter and After

When Victoria Ocampo met Rabindranath Tagore in 1924, she was 34 and Tagore 63 (almost her father’s age).

The meeting of Victoria Ocampo with Rabindranath Tagore was only a chance encounter. This could be possible because Tagore had to be detained in Buenos Aires on way to Peru as the consequence of a severe Influenza attack.

Ocampo, however, had already developed a deep impression about Tagore and his world outlook in course of serious study of the French translation of Tagore’s Nobel awarded Gitanjali (a collection of poems which were at the same time lyrics for songs) and other works of Tagore (mainly English translations). The spiritual impact of Gitanjali and Tagore’s world outlook could have remained intact in the inmost recesses of the mind of Ocampo as a perennial source of inspiration for creative activities even if she never had the opportunity to meet Tagore in real life.

The real meeting with Tagore deepened this impression and made it ever lasting with multidimensional manifestations.

Rabindranath, on the other hand, had virtually no idea about the intellectual excellence of the Argentine beauty before meeting her at San Isidro. In course of two months of continued association with her, Tagore developed a deep and long lasting impression about the intellectual excellence, humanitarian and liberal world outlook and friendly disposition of this extremely beautiful Argentine lady with mesmeric physical and intellectual charm.

This left a profound impression (intensified in course of continued correspondence with her till his dying day) on Tagore and attributed a new dimension to his creative excellence.

In 1914, disquieting factors like psychological conflict with orthodox family norms, failed marriage, passionate and inexorable extra-marital affair (considered an unpardonable sin in her family circle), had sent Victoria to emotional turmoil and in such a critical situation, she happened to come upon Andre Gide’s French translation of Gitanjali. Soon she transcended to the mystic and spiritual world of Gitanjali and this had a pacifying impact on the emotional upheavals of her mind. Later on, she occasionally described the first study of Gitanjali as her first encounter with Tagore.

This spiritual comfort from Gitanjali made her deeply interested in Tagore and his world of cosmopolitanism, and this opened up the gateway to psychological freedom from the suffocating family milieu encompassing her. She started reading other works of Tagore available through French, English and Spanish translations and thus she made full entry into the world of Tagore long before she happened to meet him at San Isidro.

Victoria did not know that she would ever have the opportunity to meet Tagore in real life. The geographical distance between Argentina and India is vast and in those days travel between the two countries was extremely difficult and time consuming. So Victoria’s opportunity to meet Tagore came as a gift from the heaven. It could be possible only because of a negative and undesirable factor, the bad influenza attack on Tagore spoiling his intended Peru tour to comply with an invitation.

At the end of 1924, Tagore’s original plan was to visit Peru along with his honorary secretary, Leonard Elmhirst. In course of a decade since his Nobel award, he became a well known figure in Peru and many other countries in Latin America and the scholarly circles in these countries were familiar with many of his works through translation (mostly retranslation in Spanish from English translations). He was invited as an Indian celebrity and a Nobel Laureate to attend the centenary of Peru’s independence from Spanish Rule. His itinerary was via Europe to Buenos Aires by ship and thereafter to Lima by rail across the Andes. Unfortunately, while on board for Buenos Aires, he was inflicted with severe influenza. This held him up at hotel Plaza in Buenos Aires. He expected that after recovery from the fever he would be able to continue his journey to Lima. But even after recovery from Influenza the Argentine physicians did not permit him to undertake the hazardous Andean train journey as the condition of his heart was not very good. He was ordered to have complete rest in some rural place free from din and bustle and visitors.

The accidental incidence came as a gift from heaven to Victoria, as an undesired ailment from Tagore’s standpoint, gave her the golden opportunity to meet in person the idol of her admiration. So what was undesirable for Tagore was highly desirable for Ocampo. Although Tagore missed his Peruvian trip, the chance incident played a crucial role in opening up a novel chapter in Tagore’s life and it added a new dimension to his creative pursuits.

As soon as Victoria learnt that her idol Tagore had been held up on account of illness, she, accompanied by her friend Adelia Acevedo, promptly contacted Tagore and Elmhirst at hotel Plaza and requested both of them to stay till the complete recovery of Tagore as her honored guests in a beautiful rented villa at San Isidro in a semi-rural milieu at the suburbs of Buenos Aires. To the satisfaction of Ocampo, the offer was promptly accepted.

Anticipating their acceptance, she, with the help of her relative Ricardo de Lafuente Machain, had already rented for the guests, a beautiful villa named Villa Miralrio, in a picturesque natural milieu, only a few quarters from her paternal residence, Villa Ocampo. She had to sell her famous diamond tiara in order to bear the expenses for her guests.

Through her deep study of Tagore she was aware of Tagore’s passion for natural beauties, especially rivers, and Miralrio, situated in a beautiful natural backdrop with its balcony overlooking the enchanting river Rio de la Plata, was up to her choice.

Tagore was very much anxious to complete his Peruvian assignment and expected to be capable of undertaking train journey to Lima in a week or so. But his stay at San Isidro had to be extended to two months (November and December, 1924) considering the poor condition of his heart, and the Peruvian assignment had to be abandoned altogether. This was a cause of much dissatisfaction for Tagore, but for Ocampo it was an unexpected boon as this enabled her to have opportunity for longer association with Tagore enabling her to explore his world more fully and deeply through direct contact and continued conversation with him. Another reason for Tagore’s unhappiness was that he was forbidden by the physicians to meet the stream of devotees opting to meet him and pay homage. For the first few days of his stay he was concerned of these deprivations and could hardly anticipate that as a return he was going to have a novel experience having a long lasting impression on him with multifarious manifestations.

Soon the initial dissatisfaction faded and Tagore began to develop rapport with Victoria, experience the feminine charm and intellectual excellence of his devotee and admirer, and he took initiative to explore the world of this enchanting lady.

Ocampo used to sleep at Ocampo Villa but was in direct association with Tagore all through the day at Miralrio. As both were well versed in English, there was no language barrier and the stream of conversation flowed all through the day except for the period when Tagore was engaged in writing, mainly poems. Continued conversation and mutual transmission of views on variegated topics over long two months played an important role in crystallizing their friendship and raising the relation to transcendental and spiritual heights.

Of the various gifts of Victoria to Rabindranath, at San Isidro and after Tagore’s return to India, the most mention worthy is an arm-chair. The arm-chair figures in two poems by Tagore and in some letters between Ocampo and Tagore.

This chair was gifted to Tagore to take rest during his convalescence at Villa Miralrio. Later on the chair was transported to India and taken to Santiniketan. It is preserved at Rabindra Bhaban museum at Santiniketan. Other gifts from Ocampo brought to Santiniketan include a pair of sunglasses, a book of poems, and a few old gramophone records.

Tagore used to call her by a Bengali name, ‘Vijaya’ (meaning victorious woman, having affinity with her first name). Most mention worthy of Tagore’s gifts to Victoria is a copy of his book of poems “Puravi” (meaning East in feminine gender and it is also the name of a musical raga sung in the evening) autographed by Tagore and gifted to Victoria Ocampo in 1940. About one third of the poems of this book are dedicated to Ocampo.

As Tagore recovered enough to undertake the return ship journey via Europe to India, Ocampo took initiative in arranging for free passage of Tagore and Elmhirst aboard the Italian liner Giulio Cesare. The story goes that the door of the liner had to be removed and reset twice for the entry and exit of the large arm-chair.

While alone in Miralrio, Tagore used to sit at the balcony of the villa or under the tipa tree and write poems. During his stay he once, accompanied by Victoria and her friend Acevedo, travelled to Chapadmalal, where they spent about a week and Tagore wrote a few poems. For the rest of the time Tagore stayed at Miralrio.

Tagore and Ocampo parted in early January, 1925 and their plan to meet again in Italy could never materialize. Only after five years in 1930 they met once again in Paris and Ocampo took initiative in organizing the first international exhibition of paintings of Tagore in May 1930. Tagore had virtually started painting since his first encounter with Ocampo, and by 1930, Tagore had become a full-fledged creative artist in the arena of expressionistic painting. The Paris exhibition was a great success. The door of the world of painting was opened for Tagore since the Paris exhibition with innumerable subsequent success, and thus Victoria played a crucial role in global recognition of Tagore as a painter.

Intellectual Impact

The meeting in Paris was the last meeting of Tagore and Ocampo. But they continued correspondence till the demise of Tagore in 1941. These letters reflect amply the depth and sublimated aspects of the relation between the two great intellectuals. Tagore had requested Ocampo to come to India and stay for some time at Santiniketan, but she never got the opportunity to do so. But the deep sublimated love between the two remained intact, and even after the death of Tagore this feeling continued to inspire Ocampo to creative activities.

Tagore had lost her wife Mrinalini Devi at the age of 41, and never married again. Some of his children died at early age. The loneliness due to all these reasons could be soothed partially by the beautiful and gifted Indian women (like Lady Ranu Mookerjee, Maitreyi Devi, Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis and Rani Chanda etc) who used to gather around Tagore being attracted by his genius, great works, physical charm and magnetic personality. Tagore had contacts with many foreign females also (like Zenobia Camprubi, the Paris-born Andree Karpeles, the German Helene Meyer-Franck, and the Hungarian Elizabeth Brunner).

But Ocampo appeared to be distinctly different from them because of her depth of thought, deep spiritual inclination and high level of intellectual capability that enabled her to understand Tagore much more closely than the other females Tagore had been in contact with. The feminine charms and affections of other females around him had certainly helped Tagore considerably to overcome loneliness and inspired him to go ahead with relentless creative activities, but none could give him the level of intellectual and spiritual satisfaction like Victoria Ocampo. The memory of her company at San Isidro, and continuous correspondence with her, went on inspiring Tagore to new levels of creative activities. Her memory was subtly reflected in many of Tagore’s poems written after his Argentine venture. In three poems (Atithi, Ashanka and Shesh Basanta), written later on, Tagore addressed Ocampo although her name was not explicitly mentioned.

Tagore’s entry into the arena of painting had direct connection with meeting with Ocampo. It was encouragement from Ocampo that inspired Tagore to turn manuscript doodlings into expressionistic sketches and this was the beginning of his creative activity as a painter.

Tagore’s influence on the creative activities of Ocampo started unfolding gradually since their meeting at San Isidro.

Before meeting Tagore she had written only one book: De Francesca à Beatrice (1923), a commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy, written in French, the language of her first choice. After meeting Tagore the pace of her writing increased overwhelmingly. The books written after 1924 include:

Domingos en Hyde Park

El Hamlet de Laurence Olivier

Emily Brontë (Terra incógnita)

A series called Testimonios (ten volumes)

Virginia Woolf, Orlando y Cía

San Isidro

Lawrence of Arabia, a biography of T. E. Lawrence

A posthumously published autobiography

An edited book of dialogues between Ocampo and Borges

In 1961, based on Tagore’s stay at San Isidro she wrote

En Las Barrancas De San Isidro

However, she, as an Argentine intellectual, got the greatest acclaim as the founder (1931) and publisher of the magazine Sur which had a profound impact on the culture and intellectual pursuits of Argentina during pre-Second World War and post-War period. The idea of publishing such a magazine was first suggested to her by the North American writer Waldo Frank.

In fact, it was the most important magazine at that time in the whole Latin America. The prominent authors who had contributed to her magazine include Albert Camus, Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriela Mistral, Ernesto Sabato, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Waldo Frank, José Ortega y Gasset, Manuel Peyrou, Enrique Anderson Imbert, José Bianco, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Eduardo Mallea, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, and Silvina Ocampo (her younger sister).

The publishing house also named Sur which Victoria had established, soon after starting the magazine, started publishing various books – Spanish originals and Spanish translations of literary works of contemporary renowned English and French authors. She herself translated works of Albert Camus, T.E. Lawrence, Graham Greene, and Dylan Thomas. Thus this magazine played a crucial role in familiarizing Latin Americans with French, British and North American literature. This immensely benefited Spanish authors of Latin America, especially, of Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Colombia.

After Tagore’s demise in 1941, Ocampo said, “I guard everything I learned from him so that I may live it. So that I may live it as long as my strength permits me.”

She did her best to keep this pledge throughout the ups and downs, struggles and victories of her long life and tried never to deviate from the spiritual path unraveled to her by Tagore, whom she like most of his devotees, used to call ‘guru dev’, the esteemed mentor and teacher.

In 1961, Victoria Ocampo took initiative in celebrating the birth centenary of Tagore at a grand scale in Buenos Aires.


A deep study and analysis, of works and biographies of Tagore and Ocampo, would create the impression on the mind of an intelligent and sensitive reader that Ocampo does not belong to Argentina only and Tagore does not belong to India only -- both belong to the entire world.

The relation between Tagore and Ocampo was certainly a passionate man-woman relation and, at the same time, something beyond. The Freudian content no doubt played the binding role at the subterranean level, but the enchanting floral exuberance out of it concealed this basis of relationship. Here lies the mystic and surrealistic dimension of the friendship and love between Tagore and Ocampo. So a deep study of Tagore-Ocampo relationship would enchant one with immense pleasure out of the foggy uncertainties, the hide and seek game of fog and sunshine, intrepid adventure in a world where the borderlines of visibility and nothingness overlap, and the overpowering mysticism of the Tagore-Ocampo love would transcend his soul to an uncanny world, the world of the two great souls who belonged to this world and at the same time did not.


Bassnett, Susan, ed. (1990), Knives and Angels: Women Writers in Latin America, London/New Jersey, Zed Books.

Chanda, Rajat (1991), Tagore in South America: Some Perspectives, Bell Laboratories, New Jersey, USA,

Chiappini, Julio (2012), Victoria Ocampo, Biografía, Rosario, Editorial Fas, 2 volumes


Dyson, Ketaki Kushari, On the Trail of Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo,

Dyson, Ketaki Kushari (1988), In Your Blossoming Flower Garden: Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo, New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi.

Elmhirst, L. K. (1961), Rabindranath Tagore: a Pioneer in Education, Essays and Exchanges between Rabindranath Tagore and, L. K. Elmhirst, London, John Murray.

Ghose, S. K. (1986), Rabindranath Tagore, New Delhi, Sahitya Academy.

Jana, Manindra Nath (1980), Education for Life: Tagore and Modern Thinkers, Calcutta, Firma K.L.M. (Pvt.) Ltd.

Kripalani, K (1980), Rabindranath Tagore: A Biography, Santiniketan, Visva Bharati Publications.

Meyer, Doris (1979), Victoria Ocampo: Against the Wind and the Tide, New York, George Braziller.

Ocampo, Victoria (1961), Tagore En Las Barrancas De San Isidro, Paperback, Buenos Aires, Sur publication, Ediciones Fundación Sur.

Rabindra Rachanavali (collected works of Tagore in Bengali), 125th birth anniversary edition, 15 volumes, Visvabharati publications, 1993.

Ray, Man, Victoria Ocampo, a Platonic Love.

Sarker, S. C. (1961), Rabindra Nath Tagore: Educational Philosophy and Experiment, Santiniketan, Visva Bharati Publications.

Sen, S. (1943), Rabindranath Tagore on Rural Reconstruction, Santiniketan, Visva Bharati Publications.



Original Bengali (with roman transliteration) – works in each category are arranged in chronological order starting from the earliest available work

Source: Rabindra Rachanavali (in Bengali), 125th birth anniversary edition, Vol. 15, PP. 721-25, Visvabharati publications, 1993.

Poems (collections) (52 books)

কবিকাহিনি (Kabikahini), বনফুল (Banophul), ভগ্নহৃদয় (Bhagnohriday), রুদ্রচণ্ড (Rudrochando), কালমৃগয়া (Kalmrigaya), সন্ধ্যাসংগীত (Sandhyasangeet), প্রভাতসংগীত (Prabhatsangeet), ছবি ও গান (Chhobi O Gan), ভানুসিংহ ঠাকুরের পদাবলী (Bhanusinho Thakurer Padaboli), কড়ি ও কোমল (Kori O Komol), মানসী (Manosi), সোনার তরী (Sonar Tori), নদী (Nodi), চিত্রা (Chitra), চৈতালি (Choitali), কণিকা (Konika), কথা (Katha), কাহিনী (Kahini), কল্পনা (Kalpona), ক্ষণিকা (Khonika), নৈবেদ্য (Noibedyo), স্মরণ (Saron), শিশু (Sisu), উৎসর্গ (Utsarga), খেয়া (Kheya), বলকা (Balaka), পলাতকা (Palataka), শিশু ভোলানাথ (Sisu Bholanath), পূরবী (Purabi), লেখন (Lekhan), মহুয়া (Mahuya), বনবানী (Banobani), পরিশেষ (Porises), পুনশ্চ (Punoscho), বিচিত্রিতা (Bichitrita), শেষ সপ্তক (Sesh Saptak), বীথিকা (Bithika), পত্রপুট (Patroput), শ্যামলী (Shyamoli), খাপছাড়া (Khapchhara), ছড়ার ছবি (Chharar Chhobi), প্রান্তিক (Prantik), সেঁজুতি (Sejuti), প্রহাসিনী (Prohasini), আকাশ প্রদীপ (Akas Pradip), নব জাতক (Nabojatok), সানাই (Sanai), রোগশয্যায় (Rogsajyay), আরোগ্য (Aragyo), জন্মদিন (Janmodin), শেষ লেখা (Ses Lekha), স্ফুলিঙ্গ (Sphulingo)

Lyrics for Songs (collections) (4 books)

গীতাঞ্জলি (Gitanjali), গীতিমাল্য (Gitimalyo), গীতালি (Gitali), গীতবিতান (Gitabitan)

Novels and Novelettes (13 books)

বউ ঠাকুরানীর হাট (Bou Thakuranir Hat), রাজর্ষি (Rajorsi), চোখের বালি (Chokher Bali), প্রজাপতির নির্বন্ধ (Projapotir Nirbandho), নৌকাডুবি (Noukadubi), গোরা (Gora), চতুরঙ্গ (Chaturango), ঘরে বাইরে (Ghare Baire), যোগাযোগ (Yogayog), শেষের কবিতা (Seser Kobita), দুই বোন (Dui Bon), মালঞ্চ (Maloncho), চার অধ্যায় (Char Adhyay)

Stories (collections) (5 books)

গল্পগুচ্ছ (Galpoguccho), তিন সঙ্গী (Tin Songi), লিপিকা (Lipika), সে (Se), গল্পস্বল্প (Galposalpo),

Dramas (43 books)

প্রকৃতির প্রতিশোধ (Prokitir Protisodh), বাল্মিকী প্রতিভা (Valmiki Protibha), মায়ার খেলা (Mayar Khela), রাজা ও রানী, (Raja O Rani), বিসর্জন (Bisarjon), চিত্রাঙ্গদা (Chitrangada), গোড়ায় গলদ (Goray Galod), বিদায়-অভিশাপ (Biday-Obhisap), মালিনী (Malini), বৈকুণ্ঠের খাতা (Boikunther Khata), হাস্য কৌতুক (Hasyo Koutuk), শারদোৎসব (Sarodotsab), মুকুট (Mukut), প্রায়শ্চিত্ত (Prayoschityo), রাজা (Raja), অচলায়তন (Acholayotan), ডাকঘর (Dakghar), ফাল্গুনী (Falguni), গুরু (Guru), অরূপরতন (Arupraton), ঋণশোধ (Rinsodh), মুক্তধারা (Muktodhara), বসন্ত (Basonto), রক্ত করবী (Rakto Karobi), চিরকুমার সভা (Chirokumar Sabha), শোধবোধ (Sodhbodh), গৃহপ্রবেশ (Grihoprobes), শেষবর্ষণ (Sesbarsan), নটীর পূজা (Notir Puja), নটরাজ (Natoraj), শেষরক্ষা (Sesraksha), পরিত্রাণ (Poritran), তপতী (Tapoti), নবীন (Nobin), শাপমোচন (Sapmochon), কালেরযাত্রা (Kaler Yatra), চণ্ডালিকা (Chandalika), তাসের দেশ (Taser Des), বাঁশরী (Bansori), শ্রাবণগাথা (Srabongatha), শ্যামা (Shyama), মুক্তির উপায় (Muktir Uapay)



Travelogues (8 books)

য়ুরোপ-প্রবাসীর পত্র (Urop-Probasir Patro), য়ুরোপ-যাত্রীর ডায়ারি (Urop-Yatrir Diary) , জাপান যাত্রী (Japan Yatri), পশ্চিম যাত্রীর ডায়ারি (Poschim Yatrir Diary), জাভা যাত্রীর পত্র (Java Yatrir Patro), রাশিয়ার চিঠি (Rasiyar Chithi), পারস্যে (Parosye), পথের সঞ্চয় (Pather Sanchay)


পঞ্চভূত (Panchobhut), আত্মশক্তি (Atyosakti), ভারতবর্ষ (Bharotvarso), চারিত্র পূজা (Charitro Puja), বিচিত্র প্রবন্ধ (Bichitro probandho), প্রাচীন সাহিত্য (Prachin Sahityo), লোক সাহিত্য (Lok Sahityo), ব্যঙ্গ কৌতুক (Byango Koutuk), আধুনিক সাহিত্য (Adhunik Sahityo), রাজা ও প্রজা (Raja O Proja), স্বদেশ (Sades), সমাজ (Samaj), শিক্ষা (Siksha), শব্দতত্ত্ব (Sabdotattyo), ধর্ম (Dharmo), শান্তিনিকেতন (Santiniketan), জীবনস্মৃতি (Jibonsriti), সঞ্চয় (Sanchay), পরিচয় (Porichay), কর্তার ইচ্ছায় কর্ম (Kartar Icchhay Karmo), মানুষের ধর্ম (Manuser Dharmo), ছন্দ (Chhando), সাহিত্যের পথে (Sahityer Pathe), কালান্তর (Kalantar), বিশ্ব পরিচয় (Visva Porichay), বাংলাভাষা পরিচয় (Banglabhasa Porichay), ছেলেবেলা (Chhelebela), সভ্যতার সংকট (Sabhyotar Sankot), আত্ম পরিচয় (Atto Porichay), সাহিত্যের স্বরূপ (Sahityer Sarup), মহাত্মা গান্ধী (Mahatma Gandhi), আশ্রমের রূপ ও বিকাশ (Asramer Rup O Bikas), বিশ্ব ভারতী (Visva Bharati), শান্তিনিকেতন ব্রহ্মচর্যাশ্রম (Santiniketan Bromyocharyasram), সমবায় নীতি (Samobay Niti), খৃষ্ট (Khristo), পল্লীপ্রকৃতি (Polliprokriti)

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