Catalogue


Gandhi's printing press : experiments in slow reading /
Isabel Hofmeyr.
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. ; London, England : Harvard University Press, 2013.
description
218 p. : ill.
ISBN
9780674072794 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. ; London, England : Harvard University Press, 2013.
isbn
9780674072794 (alk. paper)
contents note
Introduction : a Gandhian theory of text : reading, speed and sovereignty -- Printing cultures in the Indian Ocean world -- Gandhi's printing press : a biography -- Indian Opinion : texts in transit -- Binding pamphlets, summarizing India -- A Gandhian theory of reading : the reader as satyagrahi -- Conclusion : "no rights reserved" : reading and sovereignty then and now -- Appendix : pamphlets reprinted from Indian Opinion.
catalogue key
8748114
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2013-02-15:
Hofmeyer (African literature, Univ. of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) focuses here on Mohandas Gandhi's journalism during his South African years (1893-1914). Central to her argument is Gandhi's advocacy of slow, serious reading of the multilingual newspaper launched by him, Indian Opinion, and the 30 pamphlets published by his organization, The International Printing Press. These publications were instrumental in "propagating the inner meaning of Satyagraha," Gandhi's concept of an insistence on truth. The most notable of these pamphlets was Hind Swaraj, or Indian Home Rule. Gandhi emphasized the active engagement and interaction of the reader with the reading material. Hofmeyer takes a panoramic route with a chapter on the printing cultures on both sides of the Indian Ocean. VERDICT Gandhi's espousal of free reproduction of material and repudiation of copyright-consider this throwaway line: "Gandhi would have been a Wikipedian"-and his theories of slow reading, in which readers ponder and memoriz the text and "labor" for the paper, will provide food for thought in an age of Internet reading. Recommended for collections specializing in Gandhian literature, especially in academic libraries.-Ravi Shenoy, Naperville, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2013-01-21:
Hofmeyr, a professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, examines Gandhi's work with words before he became a Mahatma. While he was a young attorney in South Africa at the outset of the 20th century, Gandhi was also "a sometime proprietor" of the press that printed the influential Indian Opinion newspaper, whose production formed, for the burgeoning activist, a crash course in the synthesizing of public opinion, news, and progressive thought. Located on an ashram outside the port city of Durban, the press allowed Gandhi and his cohorts to explore "new kinds of ethical selves," bringing together as it did "different castes, religions, languages, races, and genders." In Hofmeyr's portrait, Gandhi emerges as a surprisingly keen publicist and media strategist, willing to buck the system (e.g., copyright laws) in the service of social change. She also offers a fascinating take on Gandhi's mode of "contemplative reading," one characterized by the merging of the text with a receptive mind via "pausing and perseverance," all with an aim of cumulative progress. Indeed, Gandhi read as he led. This thoughtful account is a compelling preview of the colonial subcontinent's development, as well as Gandhi's eventual role as peaceful emancipator of his own country. 5 halftones, 4 maps. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
This slim volume sparks more ideas than are typically generated by a book three times its size.
While he was a young attorney in South Africa at the outset of the 20th century, Gandhi was also 'a sometime proprietor' of the press that printed the influential Indian Opinion newspaper, whose production formed, for the burgeoning activist, a crash course in the synthesizing of public opinion, news, and progressive thought. Located on an ashram outside the port city of Durban, the press allowed Gandhi and his cohorts to explore 'new kinds of ethical selves,' bringing together as it did 'different castes, religions, languages, races, and genders.' In Hofmeyr 's portrait, Gandhi emerges as a surprisingly keen publicist and media strategist, willing to buck the system (e.g., copyright laws) in the service of social change. She also offers a fascinating take on Gandhi's mode of 'contemplative reading,' one characterized by the merging of the text with a receptive mind via 'pausing and perseverance,' all with an aim of cumulative progress. Indeed, Gandhi read as he led. This thoughtful account is a compelling preview of the colonial subcontinent's development, as well as Gandhi's eventual role as peaceful emancipator of his own country.
Reconstructing a little-known episode in Gandhi's life, Hofmeyr places surprising new findings about a particular historical figure in the service of a radically new theory of reading. This ambitious and deeply researched book holds lessons for historians, literary theorists, and anyone interested in reading practices.
The connection between Gandhi and the lively Indian Ocean world of small printing presses is something that has almost entirely escaped the attention of historians of South Asia and scholars of print culture so far. Hofmeyr explores this crucial space with rare vigor and sophistication.
Gandhi was one of history's most avid experimenters. His most audacious forms of utopianism were often nothing more than simple and ingenious experiments. Hofmeyr tells the remarkable story, with elegance and great learning, of how Gandhi imagined a radically different world simply by attending to the potentialities of the printing press. Very few books on Gandhi capture the minutiae and horizons of his world with such riveting intelligence.
Fascinating... Isabel Hofmeyr discusses and analyses the origin and nature of [periodicals published by Gandhi], focusing on Indian Opinion and Hind Swaraj , and shows how their specific nature reflected Gandhian thought. Of particular interest is Hofmeyr's slant towards Gandhi's views on reading, which resonates with our fragmented, frantic age.
Gandhi's espousal of free reproduction of material and repudiation of copyright--consider this throwaway line: 'Gandhi would have been a Wikipedian'--and his theories of slow reading, in which readers ponder and memorize the text and 'labor' for the paper, will provide food for thought in an age of Internet reading.
Deepens our understanding of Gandhi in South Africa by giving us a history of his International Printing Press...His sparse, unadorned, direct prose had much to do with his early training in writing for Indian Opinion ...The book also reflects on various printed forms--the newspaper, the periodical, the pamphlet--and their significance in not just creating a print culture but also in forging a people and sustaining a movement. The most significant part of the work is a theory of reading that Hofmeyr discerns through her examination of Indian Opinion and the Hind Swaraj (1909). Can one actually create modes of writing (and printing) that, while located within the modern realm, can militate against modernity? She shows that Gandhi consciously tried to cultivate a style of writing that required slow, meditative reading; his purpose was to adjust the act of reading to unhurried bodily rhythms not subject to the fast pace that he considered the chief signifier of the industrial age. He even tried to slow down the process of printing by dispensing with the oil machine that ran the press and instead employed manual labour to run it. In this way, Hofmeyr's elucidation of the manner in which a satyagrahi reads illuminates our understanding of Gandhi's modes of writing and discoursing.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, January 2013
Library Journal, February 2013
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Here, Hofmeyr presents a detailed study of Gandhi's work in South Africa (1893-1914), when he was the some-time proprietor of a printing press and launched the periodical 'Indian Opinion'.
Main Description
At the same time that Gandhi, as a young lawyer in South Africa, began fashioning the tenets of his political philosophy, he was absorbed by a seemingly unrelated enterprise: creating a newspaper. Gandhi's Printing Press is an account of how this project, an apparent footnote to a titanic career, shaped the man who would become the world-changing Mahatma. Pioneering publisher, experimental editor, ethical anthologist-these roles reveal a Gandhi developing the qualities and talents that would later define him. Isabel Hofmeyr presents a detailed study of Gandhi's work in South Africa (18931914), when he was the some-time proprietor of a printing press and launched the periodical Indian Opinion. The skills Gandhi honed as a newspaperman-distilling stories from numerous sources, circumventing shortages of type-influenced his spare prose style. Operating out of the colonized Indian Ocean world, Gandhi saw firsthand how a global empire depended on the rapid transmission of information over vast distances. He sensed that communication in an industrialized age was becoming calibrated to technological tempos. But he responded by slowing the pace, experimenting with modes of reading and writing focused on bodily, not mechanical, rhythms. Favoring the use of hand-operated presses, he produced a newspaper to contemplate rather than scan, one more likely to excerpt Thoreau than feature easily glossed headlines. Gandhi's Printing Press illuminates how the concentration and self-discipline inculcated by slow reading, imbuing the self with knowledge and ethical values, evolved into satyagraha, truth-force, the cornerstone of Gandhi's revolutionary idea of nonviolent resistance.
Main Description
At the same time that Gandhi, as a young lawyer in South Africa, began fashioning the tenets of his political philosophy, he was absorbed by a seemingly unrelated enterprise: creating a newspaper. Gandhi's Printing Press is an account of how this project, an apparent footnote to a titanic career, shaped the man who would become the world-changing Mahatma. Pioneering publisher, experimental editor, ethical anthologist'these roles reveal a Gandhi developing the qualities and talents that would later define him. Isabel Hofmeyr presents a detailed study of Gandhi's work in South Africa (1893'1914), when he was the some-time proprietor of a printing press and launched the periodical Indian Opinion. The skills Gandhi honed as a newspaperman'distilling stories from numerous sources, circumventing shortages of type'influenced his spare prose style. Operating out of the colonized Indian Ocean world, Gandhi saw firsthand how a global empire depended on the rapid transmission of information over vast distances. He sensed that communication in an industrialized age was becoming calibrated to technological tempos. But he responded by slowing the pace, experimenting with modes of reading and writing focused on bodily, not mechanical, rhythms. Favoring the use of hand-operated presses, he produced a newspaper to contemplate rather than scan, one more likely to excerpt Thoreau than feature easily glossed headlines. Gandhi's Printing Press illuminates how the concentration and self-discipline inculcated by slow reading, imbuing the self with knowledge and ethical values, evolved into satyagraha, truth-force, the cornerstone of Gandhi's revolutionary idea of nonviolent resistance.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Gandhian Theory of Textp. 1
Printing Cultures in the Indian Ocean Worldp. 30
Gandhi's Printing Press: A Biographyp. 46
Indian Opinion: Texts in Transitp. 69
Binding Pamphlets, Summarizing Indiap. 98
A Gandhian Theory of Reading: The Reader as Satyagrahip. 125
Conclusion: "No Rights Reserved"p. 153
Appendix: Pamphlets Reprinted from Indian Opinionp. 165
Notesp. 169
A Note on Sourcesp. 205
Acknowledgmentsp. 209
Indexp. 213
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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