|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2008)|
Sukanta Chaudhuri (born 1950) is an internationally renowned Bengali Indian scholar of English literature of the Renaissance period. He was educated at Presidency College, Kolkata and the University of Oxford. He taught at Presidency College from January 1973 to December 1991 and at Jadavpur University from December 1991 till his retirement in June 2010. He also held the post of Professor Emeritus at Jadavpur University.
Sukanta Chaudhuri works in the fields of European Renaissance studies, translation, and textual studies. His first major monograph Infirm Glory: Shakespeare and the Renaissance Image of Man (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) was republished in 2006 by DC Publishers. He has authored Renaissance Pastoral and Its English Developments (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), edited selections of Francis Bacon’s Essays and of Elizabethan poetry for OUP, and edited or co-edited several collections of essays on the Renaissance: most recently Shakespeare without English (New Delhi: Pearson Education, 2006). He has also worked on the links and parallels between the European and the Bengal Renaissances, to examine the possibility of a common model of a ‘Renaissance’. Currently, he is preparing the third Arden Shakespeare edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Chaudhuri has translated extensively from Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sukumar Ray, Rajshekhar Bose and other classic Bengali writers, and many modern Bengali poets. His Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray (New Delhi: OUP, 1998) is a wonderful recreation in English of Sukumar Ray's whimsical nonsense poems, and is probably the closest it is possible to get to expressing their spirit in a foreign language. He is General Editor of the Oxford Tagore Translations (five volumes published between 2000 and 2006). He has also authored Translation and Understanding (New Delhi: OUP, 1999).
Over the last few years, he has researched, lectured and written widely on textual studies and editorial theory. His book The Metaphysics of Text combines the insights of traditional bibliography and textual criticism with recent editorial theory and theories of language in a new way. He is also involved with new areas of activity in recording, editing and analyzing Indian texts and records. At Jadavpur University, he was among the chief founders of the School of Cultural Texts and Records, and had been its Director from 2004 to 2010. Some of the projects of which he was the Principal Investigator were on archiving 'popular market' books, creating a digital archive of early Bengali drama and creating an online variorum of the works of Rabindranath Tagore.
Chaudhuri is interested in urban studies. He edited the major two-volume compilation Calcutta: The Living City (New Delhi: OUP, 1990). He writes and campaigns extensively on urban issues, especially concerning his native city, Kolkata.
In early 2007 Chaudhuri's Bengali play Jaha Chai was performed in Calcutta by the Nandikar theatre group under the direction of Rudra Prasad Sengupta. This was part of a project on cultural mobility carried out by the scholar Stephen Greenblatt and the off-Broadway dramatist Charles L. Mee. Three playwrights in three different cultures (Bengal, Japan and Croatia) of whom Chaudhuri was one, were asked to write playscripts based upon the idea of the lost Shakespeare play Cardenio, in which it is thought that a newly married nobleman tests the loyalty of his wife by asking his best friend to attempt to seduce her. Chaudhuri Indianised the idea and set the story in modern Bengal, with Bengali and Adivasi characters, the lost play metamorphosing into a (fictional) hitherto unknown Tagore text.
He is married to Supriya Chaudhuri who also taught at the Department of English, Jadavpur University.