necessarily involve a very considerable expenditure. The present compilation. In September, 1910, I was employed by the Syndicate to prepare this compilation. This is, in brief, the history of the origin of the present work.
3. The need of a Bengali anthology felt by European Orientalists.
It is noteworthy that the Orientalists of Europe have also felt the need of a compilation of this sort. The Times of London while reviewing my History of Bengali Language and Literature in its issue of the 20th, June 1912, wrote: “If we may be allowed to make the suggestion, the University of Calcutta might now employ Mr. Sen in preparing an anthology of characteristic passages from ancient authors, with a running commentary and literal prose translation into modern Bengali. The extracts should be made rather with a view to the linguistic interest of the passages chosen than to their literary merit. Such a work would be invaluable to European students of the language and might incidentally show educated Bengalis, often culpably careless of their own literature, how much of old world charm still lives in the work of rustic but happily inspired bards.” M. Jules Bloch of Paris, who is now enthusiastically engaged in studying the Indian vernaculars, complains (in his letter to me, dated 22nd March, 1912) that the meanings of old and obsolete words given in my History help him but little as he has no opportunity to go back to the text itself. Mr. J. D. Anderson, a retired civilian and Professor of Bengali in the University of Cambridge, has strongly urged in several letters the need of a Bengali scholar taking upon himself the task of compiling an anthology of the old literature of Bengal. But these scholars did not know then that the Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University had already anticipated the importance of the subject and made arrangement for the publication of a work of this nature. The literal translation of ancient poetry into modern Bengali prose recommended by the Times does not appear to be a necessary thing, as a large portion of old poetry is intelligible by itself and, where necessary, notes have been appended to explain difficulties. But some of the earlier writings, especially those of a sectarian character, such as the songs of the Sahajiyās and descriptions of the rituals of the Dharma-cult, have baffled all attempts of the compiler at satisfactory interpretation. Still he has given short extracts from them in the hope that there may be found among the readers of the book some men more competent than he to solve the knotty problems raised by the mystic writings.
I cannot help alluding with permissible pride to the gracious mention of this book by His Excellency the Chancellor of the Calcutta University in his