Andrew Roberts’ Wall Street Journal review of a new book about Mohandas Gandhi, “Great Soul,” by Joseph Lelyveld, appears to have as much to do with Roberts’ politics as it does with Lelyveld’s work. The review recasts the Indian liberator and political innovator as a rather impetuous, ethically inconsistent and even pervy misanthrope—or, Roberts puts it in the beginning of his article: “Gandhi was therefore the archetypal 20th-century progressive intellectual, professing his love for mankind as a concept while actually despising people as individuals.”
The reasons why Gandhi was a “sexual weirdo,” according to Roberts, included his passionate love for a man in his youth, as well as some of his later escapades with much younger women. The tone of the review is clear from the excerpt below. —KA
Andrew Roberts in The Wall Street Journal:
Yet as Mr. Lelyveld makes abundantly clear, Gandhi’s organ probably only rarely became aroused with his naked young ladies, because the love of his life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach, for whom Gandhi left his wife in 1908. “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom,” he wrote to Kallenbach. “The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.” For some reason, cotton wool and Vaseline were “a constant reminder” of Kallenbach, which Mr. Lelyveld believes might relate to the enemas Gandhi gave himself, although there could be other, less generous, explanations.
Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about “how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.” Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” and Kallenbach “Lower House,” and he made Lower House promise not to “look lustfully upon any woman.” The two then pledged “more love, and yet more love ... such love as they hope the world has not yet seen.”