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New Pathways of Scrutiny

Jaya Sharma

By James D. Hunt
Promilla and Company in association with Bibliophile South Asia, New Delhi and Chicago,, 2006, Rs. 650.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 10 October 2006

James Hunt’s explorations on Gandhi in this inspiring series of essays are set in a postmodern context and an attempt has been made to recover the real Gandhi from the various influences and events that surrounded him through his journey of life. The author moves between an open admiration, to an objective analysis of the man, and the Mahatma. He seems to project Gandhi as a postmodern thinker, philosopher, and doer too. But Gandhi is and will continue to remain a thinker whose relevance does not freeze in time but he continues to offer ways and means with which one can understand the world a little better. An American’s scrutiny of Gandhi is a passionate account of Gandhi’s contribution to the evolving of an Indian identity and his own Indianness of thought and action. The work is more of an account than an analysis but an extremely well researched one that raises a host of questions and opens new pathways of looking at Gandhi and offers way to grapple with the Mahatma. For Gandhi even today remains one of the most misunderstood figures yet a very influential figure of the twentieth century.   The book traces the journey of Gandhi as a young lawyer embarking on his legal career in South Africa, to the dawn of the Mahatma. The author now lies challenged physically by Alzheimer’s but has meticulously woven together the various pieces that appear in the volume assisted by his wife and friends. What sets this book apart from other works on Gandhi is the deconstruction of Gandhi to recover the essential Gandhi that is rooted to his soil and to his tradition. Hunt has primarily looked at the formative years of Gandhi in South Africa as a young ambitious westernized lawyer and the trials and tribulations that follow. The book attempts to unravel what Gandhi took or did not take from his interactions with western thinkers and doers and from his struggles on behalf of the Indian community in South Africa.   There are two central concerns and divisions within the book. Seven of the chapters are a surreal exploration of Gandhi’s activities, of his movements and the simultaneous influences of other struggles on his thinking and the emergence of a remarkable leader. The other part is primarily set in an analytical mode.   Appendix I is unique in the sense that it is like ...

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