Friday, September 2, 2011

Old engagements

I wonder if you’ve ever thought about why people write their autobiographies, or get them written. It could be, for one, the need to explain a life lived in a particular manner, perhaps to capture memories before they curl around their edges and die, or to delineate the push and pull of events that formed some greater scenario observed often through other eyes, or minds. A large body of critics believe that, in real terms, it’s all a cathartic act and why should one impose this on the reader? The reasons could unfold like in a game of solitaire; the placing of one correct card on another correct card is imperative, to complete the suit. Sudhir Kakar, of course, knows how to play his cards right.

Kakar’s academic credentials are formidable. An engineer who trained in psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt, his biodata lists associations with Harvard, Princeton, Berlin, Vienna, McGill, IIM Ahmedabad, the INSEAD and other establishments. The famed Die Zeit of Germany placed him amongst the top 21 thinkers of the 21st century. Additionally, he was the first living author whose books have featured in the Essential Writing series of Oxford University Press. Oh yes, he lives in Goa.

A Book of Memory therefore came bundled with the promise of Kakar’s insights into morals, mores and matters; it would be wonderful to agree, or to disagree, with him as one went along; also, to watch how this gifted communicator handled the wary relationship that seems to exist between the need to be objective and the desire not to be that at crucial turns and bends. On the flipside, the book could turn out to be severely academic, even unwieldy, and annotated to a standstill.

Full report here Telegraph

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