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« Fafblog on Libya (Joe) | Main | Hyperbole and a Half: Read It (Joe) »

April 06, 2011


I'm sure the fatwa makers are getting their knives sharpened, err... pens and parchment ready. As for me, I give Rudnick an A for concept, but a D on execution.

Wow! Thanks for the link. Just read it. Disclosure: 20 years ago, my extraordinarily talented sister, Harriet, played all seven female roles in Paul Rudnick's career-making tragicomedy, _Jeffrey_. About love and death and daring to connect in the age of AIDS. It was extremely offensive, and many audience members couldn't take it. It was also horribly funny. Many nasty and subversive and truthful things have always found their best expression in comedy. Comic writers are (even) angrier and more hurt than writers in other genres. If it's about taste and being tasteful, it's not comedy -- unless it's a send-up of taste and the notion of the tasteful.

I have read that Christ was gay. And now Gandhi. Paul Rudnick being pretty disgusting about it changes nothing. It may well turn out that nearly everyone whom we find heroic and inspiring got that special something from the permanent outsider status same-sex sexual preference confers on a boy. The relationship between celibacy and leadership has been noted, as has the fact that much celibacy is driven by the relative unacceptability of a leader's sexual preferences. I mean, look at Hitler. For me it all resolves to a fabulous conversation I had with a Brit in a pub -- Mountbatten had been murdered earlier that year, and there was naturally much talk of him. Most Brits understood he was gay. But, my interlocutor said, Mountbatten was "such a hero. And welcome to anything or anyone he wanted. I just don't care."

Now, if only that thinking could be extended to every adult who can love another adult. Heroism to one side.

Have a look at this comment by a leading historian, Ramchandra Guha

I can see that Guha has carefully sifted through Lelyveld's book, and correctly points out that the Kallenbach references in it are minimal.He goes on to conclude that Lelyveld's insinuations are unfounded, just given too much importance by a reviewer bent on milking the maximum controversy out of the book.
My point, however, is that sifting through Gandhi's own letters to Kallenbach at the online archive on, a picture emerges that is more consistent with Lelyveld's insinuation, than not. It is clear that for a duration of about 8 years, Kallenbach played a much more important role than Kasturba, not necessarily physically, but emotionally. Then the relationship cut off abruptly, for reasons that Gandhi is reticent to discuss. One never sees him reach the same degree of familiarity and intimacy in address in any of his letters to other friends, as he did with HK.

Manoj Joshi,

Thank you for the link.

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