Substantial if not always stylish, this intellectual biography places Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) in the context of the late 19th-century ``New Age,'' a burgeoning, if idealistic, period of romantic thinking. Green ( Prophets of a New Age ) proceeds chronologically, detailing events in Gandhi's life and sketching people and trends that influenced him. In England from 1888 to 1891, Gandhi encountered such early New Age icons as vegetarian Henry Salt; in South Africa in 1894, his activism was spurred by reading Tolstoy's writings on religion. Green links Gandhi's philosophy of satyagraha (passive resistance), formulated in South Africa in 1906, to a host of sources, including Thoreau and liberal Judaism. He describes Gandhi as neither martyr nor militant but ``tough-minded realist,'' and, in contrast to other biographers, describes Gandhi's ``womanliness'' as having``more to do with socially constructed gender than sex.'' Green sees the myth of Gandhian heroism as rooted not just in orientalism but in the authoritarian British establishment, and suggets that, even if sexual scandal vitiated that myth, Gandhi stands as a ``towering horizon figure'' for ideas and politics. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993 Release date: 08/01/1993 Genre: Nonfiction
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