Aubrey Menen – a tribute

Salvatore Aubrey Clarence Menen – The wicked satirist

Black and white movies had given way to Eastman color, television was just making an entry but Radio Ceylon and Vividbharati ruled the airwaves. There were no fast food places and cricket still took all of 5 days with Anand Satalwad and Suresh Saraiya commenting on it, while the faster versions like 20-20 or one day cricket were yet to be popularized. Yezdi-Java and Bullet bikes ruled the road, while Amby and fiat cars crawled through pot holed roads, not sensibly attempting to race with the two wheelers. Computers did not work overtime to beef up finger muscles or screw up your mind in those calmer days. At best you could go see a movie or go walking or cycling. Magazines and books took up spare time, a time available when not trying to discover and understand life in the open. That was the time when we had magazines like Imprint and JS, it was a time when we had music like Beatles, Beegees and novels by thought provoking and interesting writers ….

Yes, that was the time when we tried hard without luck to find books by this writer - Aubrey Menen, remember him? Perhaps not! For those who have not the faintest clue who this was (too bad, you missed something), here is a little something, rearranging his life in some words. He was the one who said - "Men of all races have always sought for a convincing explanation for their own astonishing excellence and they have frequently found what they were looking for."

He was a confused person perhaps, where the problems of identity started right at birth. Today we have usages like ABCD –American Born Confused Desi, but in the case of Aubrey, it had started so many decades ago, when he was born to a Malayali father Dr KN Menon and an Irish-English mother in 1912, a very unique situation. As a result, his entire life was spent in limbo, as a foreigner in Britain due to his skin color and a foreigner in India due to his English parentage and upbringing. Many other things including sexuality confused him and his attempts to find answers to all those resulted in some beautiful prose and satire, very different from the others writing at that time, both Indian and English.

Let’s start with a sampler with Menen’s classic satire He once told the publication ‘Contemporary Authors’ that any aspiring writer should perform daily physical exercise: He should sit on his bottom in front of a table equipped with writing materials. If his top end fails him, at least his nether end won't. That’s Menen for you.

One of his usual haunts during his final years was the British library in Trivandrum, a place I myself had frequented during holidays. The thought took me back to the days when I would cycle from Kazhakootam to the city where my friend Venu lived. We would sometimes go to the British council library or the Indian coffee house nearby. During those jaunts, we may have come across the shorts clad, white haired author and his companion, but in those days writers did not have such popularity and their pictures and persona were not well known to people like us. Their writings caught our fancy, and his personal life was secondary.

A journalist and blogger Sankar Radhakrishnan muses about the time he saw Menen and his friend Graham Hall wander around Trivandrum and wonders about his name. He asks -

More than the Biblical mien, it was his name that snagged my attention — Aubrey, I could understand, but Menen? Did he have anything to do with the cosmetics company Mennen, I wondered? So with little effort, I discovered that ‘Menen’ was a variant of the more familiar ‘Menon’; familiar to Malayalis that is. Aubrey Menen, I learnt, had an Irish mother and a Malayali father. I also learnt that he was a writer who had retired to Trivandrum.

The answer to that question was actually very interesting and entirely due to another Menon, a dominant person, one I had written about often, the esteemed V K Krishna Menon. I will write in detail about their interesting association another day, but as it happens, Menen had became involved with Krishna Menon's India League in London and himself toured Britain as a speaker supporting Menon’s efforts. So that he would not be confused with Krishna Menon, who was a friend of his father, Aubrey anglicized his name to Menen from the original Aubrey Menon.

For those who may wonder what Aubrey means - Aubrey is the Norman French form of an Old Germanic name, Albirich meaning “Elf Ruler” or Blond ruler from “aelf” (elf) and “ric” (ruler, power). In later days it was more a girl’s name. You can imagine the young lad’s consternation; Aubrey was neither blond nor a girl. And that would plague him for the rest of his life, I suppose.

So now you got the name and the person behind it. Time magazine described him thus - "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble," lamented Job. But trouble fairly brims over when a man is born, as was Aubrey Menen, of an Irishwoman and a Hindu, is registered as a native Briton and educated like a true-born Englishman. Beset by so many distorting mirrors, such a man is bound to see the baffling jigsaw puzzle of his identity with either tears or laughter. Novelist Menen (The Prevalence of Witches, The Duke of Gallodoro) chooses laughter.

Menen thus born in 1912 to an Irish mother and Indian father, and raised Roman Catholic in London, graduated from University College. Now look at the complications that were his baggage, Indian, Irish and Roman Catholic, all minorities. Living in England must not have been fun, and Britain in those (First World War) days was not easy going and forgiving.

Menen says – I (my dark looks) was made much of by the English and even given pennies by old gentlemen on the street since some Indians fighting on the western front were cutting off German necks with their kukris. But towards the end of the war I was mistaken for a Turk and I earned unkind looks since the Turks were reported to be cutting off testicles of their English prisoners. But by the end of the war which was won, the Indians who cut the necks were to be seen in Britain and soon gentlemen were again giving me pennies in the street.

When he was 12, he visited India since his grandmother demanded that he be brought to her. One of the most interesting pieces from his writing collection was about this visit to meet his grandmother at Ponnani near Palakkad. In those paragraphs you can get to know Menen by what he wrote, and you can glean his satire, his original thought in text and his mental reach. He recounts…

My grandmother was something of a stick, she had a driving will, she would not be balked and whatever she did was designed to strike the spectator with awe. She rarely spoke to anyone who was not of her own social station and she received them formally, that is to say, with her breasts completely bare…She thought that married women who wore blouses and pretty saris were jezebels, in her view a wife who dressed herself above her waist, could only be aiming at adultery!!!

During this visit Menen’s Irish mother was put up in an outhouse so that the main house would not be defiled by the entry of the non-Hindu – ‘the Englishwoman’. Menen goes on - Grandma had never met the English, but she knew all about them. She knew they were tall, fair, given to good drink, good soldiers and that they had conquered her native country. She also knew they were incurably dirty in their personal habits (all about not taking baths while the Malayali took at least two a day). She respected them but wished they would keep their distance.

The schoolboy returned to Britain with memories of the domineering grandmother, her palanquin and her words, grew up and graduated, briefly learning about the problems of the ‘not independent’ India from the India league and his mind was soon in turmoil. After graduating in 1932, Menen became the drama critic for The Bookman from 1933 to 1934, director of the Experimental Theater from 1935 to 1936 and director of the Personalities Press Service from 1937 to 1939. By 1939, he was India bound and soon found a job at the All-India radio.

His father was the happiest person when Aubrey told him that he was going to India. People like George Orwell had been broadcasting in the AIR and Menen in addition, also worked as a script writer for propaganda films. Soon this was to establish him as a leading radio personality before he meandered into the Ad agency Walter Thompson’s film department. By 1948, the second war had come to an end and he had got into full time writing. As India became independent, he moved back to Britain to oversee the publication of his book Prevalence of witches. ''The Stumbling Stone'' (1949), ''The Backward Bride'' (1950), ''The Fig Tree'' (1959), ''Shela'' (1962) and ''A Conspiracy of Women'' (1965) followed soon after. Many more books, essays, interviews and artciles followed and he had soon established himself as a good writer. And yet he was to say this of his writing passion – ‘Any good writing is an immense struggle. That is why most people aren’t writers. It is the hardest profession in the world’.

But what caught India by storm was - The Ramayana, As Told by Aubrey Menen (1954) where Menen suggested that Brahmins kept rewriting Valmiki's tale to get it to say the very opposite of what the original poet originally meant. Devout Hindus were horrified by the liberties Menen took with a sacred text and the book was soon banned in India.

Menen’s Ramayana is hilarious if you take it at face value. As he put it, it was his task to create an oppositeTime magazine reviews it thus - Under the guise of restoring the classic, Satirist Aubrey Menen slyly milks a sacred cow for laughs. His freewheeling and irreverent Ramayana is a mock epic that owes less to its original author, the Hindu poet Valmiki, than it does to Voltaire's Candide and Boccaccio's Decameron. In the book he explains for example - King Dasa-ratha, Rama’s father, was loved by all his subjects and he loved certain of them in return, especially if they were women.”
of what is accepted as Valmiki’s treatise. He went about doing it in such a lovely, ironically lusty & nonsensical fashion that it was no wonder purists of the time got the book banned. At the end of the book, Rama asks Valmiki which is real and a smiling Valmiki replies – ‘There are three things which are real: God, human folly, and laughter. Since the first two pass our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third’.

Aubrey could be unpredictable, once while being interviewed by the press, Menen was asked what he considered the most important book written in India since independence. He replied: ‘The 1954 All India Rural Credit Survey’. Frankly I cannot as yet figure out if he was serious or sarcastic, nevertheless, the Report is stated to have vividly portrayed the rural credit scenario under which people mostly cultivators, operated at that time and the dynamics of the interrelationship between the cultivators and the lenders, both formal and informal.

A man can be judged by his usage of words at a specific time, and Menen could also be credited to be very thoughtful for he once said, At the beginning of the sixteenth century, [Rome] was a squalid city, with narrow, insanitary streets, rat-infested medieval houses, and moldering ruins. Although it was the seat of the papacy, its moral vices were notorious. The situation was summed up in a famous story, much quoted. A Jew was brought by a Christian to Rome. After a year, the Jew became a Christian. Asked by the astonished citizens why, he replied that if God permitted the things to go on that he had seen, then Christianity must be the true faith. [Menen, Aubrey, Art & Money: An Irreverent History, 1980, McGrawHill, p. 115]

Again Britain proved to be claustrophobic for Menon and he moved to Italy. As he described it, it was a space midway between India and England, and Menen lived there until 1980. Not many people may know this; he was also our late Madhavi Kutti’s (Kamala Das – Suraiyya) relative, a sort of cousin or uncle. One reference mentions that Kamala was married to his first cousin. Some of his statements can be so different - when he wrote about the locust (Menen’s Ramayana) which learns that ‘if you learn history you can predict the future ‘provided things don’t turn out differently’.

As we read about him, here and there, we come to a question that Anusua Mukerjee asks in her Telegraph article linked here - But for all the pleasures of piecing together an author from his novels, a niggling query remains, one that can be answered only by a possible biographer. Who is Philip Dallas, to whom three of the four novellas are dedicated? Was he someone like Alexander’s Hephaestion (A Conspiracy of Women), the lonely conqueror’s only friend and companion with whom his wives could never compete, and who speaks some of the lines that are almost shocking in their poignancy, given the general frigidity of Menen’s tone? “‘When Alexander and I were eleven,’ said Hephaestion, ‘we decided that by thirty we would certainly have conquered Persia and most probably Egypt. The problem was what we would do at thirty-one. I remember we decided that the only fitting thing for two such great men would be to be dead.’” I keep speculating about the mysterious dedicatee.

In fact not three but at least some 10 books/novellas are dedicated to Dallas. Menen would have firmly identified the person if he wanted to, and to understand his personal side, you have to read his biography ‘The space within my heart’. I would guess that Dallas was Graham Hall based on the rights ownership of his works, but it is only speculation and has never been confirmed by Menen or Hall. You are taken into his mind if you read that autobiographical book which wrestles with his sexuality and gay life, and a lifestyle that was taboo during his time.

And then he finally he moved to where his father’s life had started - the magical state of Kerala where he went on to spend his last days. He knew perhaps that he had only a little time and he remarked ‘Well, I was still alive, and if I had to die, Kerala was a beautiful place to die in. Had not Baudelaire written a perfect poem to a Malabar girl, advising her to stay where she was and not go to ugly, cold Europe?. Anybody who wants to learn a bit more about Baudelaire is recommended to read the CHF article

Sankar remembers - In 1980s-Trivandrum, Aubrey Menen stood out like a sore thumb. By then into the last years of his life, Menen looked quite like the quintessential Biblical prophet, a slightly impish prophet: serene face, flowing white beard and long-ish white hair. Of course, notions of prophecy were slightly dispelled by the tan shorts and sun hat that he often wore while pottering around Trivandrum’s central Statue and Pulimood neighborhoods.

But Aubrey Menen saw life differently; take a look at this excerpt from the preface to his book ‘A conspiracy of Woman’………..

"You must often have wondered why men of good will, like you and like me, never seem to get our own way. We want the whole world to live in peace and harmony and we do our best to see that it does. Then why is there always war, and trouble, and quarrels?

Here is the answer. I have had to travel four continents and spend a lifetime in study to find it. But like all important truths, it is very simple. As a matter of fact, it is so simple that I have been able to state it in the first seven lines of this story. If you are pressed for time, those are all you need to read."

So what were the first seven lines?

"One day when Alexander the Great was sitting in his tent he said to his friend Hephaestion, "Hephaestion, have you ever thought about the fact that women make up half the human race?"

"Once," said Hephaestion.

"And what did you think about it?" said Alexander

"I thought it was a pity," said Hephaestion.

That was Menen for you…. And he went on to make so many more great utterances….

Some samples are recounted below

"The essence of success is that it is never necessary to think of a new idea oneself. It is far better to wait until somebody else does it, and then to copy him in every detail, except his mistakes."

Or the time when he said in an interview with the Illustrated weekly – Gandhi had a sensitive stomach. All people with sensitive stomachs make the life of those around them a misery. When the interviewer continued if Gandhi’s lasting influence will be good or bad, Menen answered - Ah! Will it last?

Or this - Fate is something you believe in when things are not going well. When they are, you forget it.

But he could be irreverent - It is a mark of genius not to astonish but to be astonished. Or when he said this ‘That is the whole trouble with being a heretic. One usually must think out everything for oneself’.

Those who like his writing style will also enjoy his article on Mysticism – he starts thus - ‘The men who started the whole business would probably think it a pity I can write and you can read. They could do neither.

Finally he came home and fittingly he spent his last years in the care of Dr Krishnan Nair at Kerala undergoing treatment for throat cancer, breathing his last in Trivandrum in 1989.

Alas! The good man is gone from this world, but his charming writing remains, and I wonder, if only people found the will and urge to read them. Perhaps one or two reading this will make that attempt and enjoy the fruits of Menen’s labor.

Comments

Happy Kitten said…
Have never read him or heard about him..but loved the way you introduced him. Are all his writings satirical?
Maddy said…
Thanks HK..
Most of his books are satirical, but at the same time dealing with interesting topics. His rfeporting was factual and some of his magazine articles only slightly laced with humor!
sumal said…
Excellent article!Though I often wonder why these intellectuals only chose to satirize the Hindu epics in exclusion to everything!
Maddy said…
thanks sumal..
I am not sure about the answer though I believe it is because of the relative nonchalance amongst the Hindu fold, which again is possibly for the good.Salman Rushdie (Satanic Verses) and many Christian authors have written about their respective religions too, so this is not isolated.
But it is not about Hinduism or religious aspects that Aubrey wrote, but about the text of the Ramayana epic.
EricZ said…
I very much enjoyed your tribute to Aubrey Menen. As a great fan of his writing, I too have wondered about the identity of the mysterious dedicatee. As you may know, there are a couple of books about Italian wines published in the 70s and 80s under the name of Philip Dallas, as well as a translated work, The Adventures of Captain Alonso De Contreras: A 17th Century Journey, published in 1989. I consulted these texts several years ago, but found no real evidence that he is the same person as Menen’s Hephaestion. As I recall from The Space Within the Heart, Menen met Graham Hall when the latter was a teenager, after Menen had been living in Rome – and after at least some of the books dedicated to Philip Dallas had appeared. I intend one day to examine Menen’s papers at Boston University – perhaps there lies the solution to the mystery.
Maddy said…
Thanks EricZ..
nice of you to drop by and thanks for the comment. Would be interesting to figure out who the mysterious P Dallas is, but i doubt it for there are just a handful of people who know Aubrey!! I still have a couple of his books to complete..
rgds
Shail Mohan said…
You have certainly inspired me to read him, after reading this tribute to him.
indianhomemaker said…
Would love to find a Kindle (or any ebook) edition of Rama Retold by Aubrey Menen. Found only, The Prevalence of Witches, A Conspiracy of Women, A Fig Tree, The Abode of Love on Amazon.
Maddy said…
thanks shail..
hope you find and enjoy his books..
rgds
Maddy said…
thanks indianhomemaker

ramayana by aubrey menon (same as rama retold as far as I know) is available at amazon for just 14 cents plus shipping. I dont think an e book is available though...
indianhomemaker said…
Thank You Maddy.

I was also wondering where this quote is from,

//My grandmother was something of a stick, she had a driving will, she would not be balked and whatever she did was designed to strike the spectator with awe.
…She thought that married women who wore blouses and pretty saris were jezebels, in her view a wife who dressed herself above her waist, could only be aiming at adultery!!!
//


Maddy said…
thanks indianhomemaker..
it is the opening para in 'My grandmother and the dirty english'. The essay itself is published in many books and specifically in Dead man and teh silver market by Menen.
Rajorshi Das said…
What a lovely piece! I am planning a research proposal on Menen. Unfortunately can't find many books. Especially looking for 'THE SPACE WITHIN MY HEART'. Any idea, where can I get hold of it?
Maddy said…
Thanks rajorshi..
Difficult to find that book, I got a second hand one from Amazon.
Let me know if you are looking for something specific
Rajorshi Das said…
How much did it cost? I want to focus on his autobiographical works. Need to know what he said about his sexuality and whether he was the 1st Indian to speak openly about it. Also when did he change his citizenship from Brit to Indian?
Ramachandran said…
While I was doing my MA in TVM I had seen Aubrey in his place,once.After I took up job few years later,He and his live-in friend Graham Hall were staying close to Holy Angels School.Hall used to bring articles from Aubrey to my office.Aubrey's dad was from Nalappatt,I think;his dad was closely related to Madhava Das,Madhavikkutty's husband.Another genius with a malayalee family name appended is Raymundo Panikkar.
Maddy said…
Thanks rajorshi..
he was always a British subject with an indian background..and he mentioned about his gay orientation early enough through his wiritngs..
Maddy said…
thanks ramachandran..
yes, i read about the Madhavikutty connection
I started out on raimondo some time back, never completed the article...
Ramachandran said…
Rajorshi's query on an Indian writer to openly admit his gay behavior:maybe Hoshang Merchant who compiled Indian Gay Writing for Penguin is the first.Vikram Seth followed.Hoshang teaches in Central University,Hyderabad.But the authority is Asok Row Kavi,Mumbai.
Sajjeev Antony said…
I came across your blog as I was searching for Aubrey Menen. All his books are out of print. I still have dog eared copies of "Space Within the Heart" (which I still dip from time to time to savor a para or two), "Prevalence of Witches" (with its delightful short story of the
"Discontented Tiger").

He passed away in 1989 and this year is his 25th death anniversary. He made no efforts to remembered nor did his protege Graham Hall.

In my view his most important book is his autobiographical essay, "Space Within the Heart" which recounts his journey into his own self using an unusual Upanishadic technique. Unlike usual awareness type of meditation, the one he adopted was an intellectual one (perhaps more suitable for writers and other habitual thinkers), where one examines one's life story and adopts the "this is not it" (ne-iti, ne-iti) method. It would be a great loss if that book is lost (at least I have a copy but don't know if it is legal to publish it online as PDF). I know that the "Space" was translated into Malayalam in the early 1990s and I did meet the translator, Sundar. I recall Sundar explaining to me how difficult it was to translate Menen. Some lines, he said, were so deftly intertwined that a tiny variation in phrasing could cause the entire structure to come apart.

The copyright holder of Aubrey Menen's books was Graham Hall. After Hall's passing away 2005, no idea who holds it now. We may have another lead. In page 4 of "Space", Menen says that he keeps sending all personal memorabilia to one Howard Gotleib of Boston University. Whatever Gotlieb collected are still safe with him, away from public eye. How long should this silence continue? As you are in America, would you drive up to Boston University and collar Mr. Gotlieb and ask him or his descendents what they are doing about Menen's personal effects?

Aubrey Menen is part of Kerala's literary heritage and I think literature lovers need to take action so that his memory and works revived before they are lost forever.
Maddy said…
Thanks Sajjeev,
Fortunately many of his books are available in a used condition here from Amazon and I have collected a number of them including Space within....He is such an amazing writer.
Let us be thankful to H Gotleib, for all his letters and papers are carefully archived and available for researchers ( i will go there one day to check it out...). i cannot imagine what would have happened if it were our state government archive for I have been to some of them and I have seen how terrible and moth eaten many of those valuable papers have ended up as!!
This link provides what they have in Boston..
http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/archives-cc/app/details.php?id=8259&return=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bu.edu%2Fphpbin%2Farchives-cc%2Fapp%2Fsearch.php%3Fkeywords%3Dmenen%26do_search%3DSearch
Rajorshi Das said…
There is an edition of 'Space Within the Heart' with National Library, Calcutta.
Actually my research proposal on Menen has been accepted by University of Reading. However since there is no funding, I may not be able to take it up. Sadly US and Canada, no longer entertain PhD on a single author and I am a bit short of options. But you can email the Gotlieb Research Centre to enquire about the current status of Menen's works.
Rajorshi Das said…
Just saw Ram's comment. Thank you so much. But just as luck would have it, Merchant retired from the University of Hyderabad last year. I am trying to find his email id so that I may seek his advice.
Very well-written and interesting, Maddy. I have read but one of Menen's books, and that was a dog-eared copy that I borrowed from a family friend (well, actually the uncle of my aunt-by-marriage). The Backward Bride. I was perhaps too young to fully understand the satire, but I do remember smiling at parts of it.

I was astonished to find out, years later, that he was actually half-Malayali. 'Menen' didn't strike any bells. I really should source some more of his writing. Thank you for evoking a return interest in an author I remember enjoying.

Chandy said…
Nice tribute to a gifted Writer. I vaguely recall Sri Rajagopalachari's (Congress Politician & independent India's first Governor-general) tirade against Menen's Ramayana and his successful efforts to get it banned! I was a student at a Jesuit College which still had the Papal Index of Books which disallowed students from even thumbing through books by GB Shaw, Guy de Maupassant etc. So, an excellent "underground library system" thrived & Menen was a favorite of most of my friends especially those from then Travencore & Cochin.Besides Ramayana as Retold by Aubrey Menen, my favorite of Menen is The Dead Man in the
Silver Market. I hope that someone will write a bio of this brilliant satirist who like Raymundo Panikker tried and to a large extent succeeded in blending the cultural heritages of both East & West, Aubrey, in a puckish manner and Raymundo in a more philosophical mode to integrate the seminal thoughts of Vedic philosophy into the triadic (ala sat-chit-ananda) Triune (Father, Son & The Holy Spirit).
Sasi P said…
Many years ago I read an article in one of the Malayalam magazines (may be 'Mathrubhumi') about Aubrey Menen and 'Hridayathil Oridam'). Few sentences from that book (translated in Malayalam) were deeply stuck in my mind- I do not remember them exactly- but the message was something like- 'when someone close to us is on deathbed, we strongly yearn that he/she will come back to senses at least momentarily so that you can settle something between you and him- May be something which was told, which never should have been uttered and we regretted later; or something we always wanted to say but never said;....We stand there with this prayer , like one trying with the door handle in vain to open a locked door- This is a lesson we all need to remember,---

If any one of you have a copy of the space within the heart, and if you can find this, could you please share that paragraph?
Maddy said…
Thanks Sasi

The paragraph you mention comes from page 74 of the book , and written after Aubrey's mothers death

There was another question, even more searching.As I had known for many years, when a person dies that has been in your life, you always wish him back for a moment to put something right between you: a letter written, something foolish said in anger and soon repented. It is a lesson we have to learn. We wish to be forgiven by the one person who cannot do it. We try the handle of the door to see if it will open one last time. but it does not.

......
Maddy said…
thanks a lot chandy.
he was an amazing writer....
Maddy said…
Thanks anu
hope you got the Menen books and read them...
Srikanth HM said…
Hello,maddy sir its Srikanth Mohanrao from Karnataka, India doing research on Aubrey Menen and his satires.I want to contact u please do lemme know your e mail Id ....my e mail id is hmsrikanth2012@gmail.com
Sasi P said…
Thanks Maddy..
I realize, that translation was also poignant so that I remembered most of it after many years..
Maddy said…
thanks sasi
his thoughts are profound at times..
Sudhinpk said…
Hai sir... I am from Kerala. Is there anyway to get Space Within Heart in India. I checked many resources still didn't find any. Is there anyway to get a softcopy of the book?
I have to say I have never read one of the books by Aubrey Menen, but I will certainly do now. Especially : "The Mystics"/"The New Mystics; and the True Indian Tradition".
Aubrey Menen was the first person who introduced Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the western world. Strangely enough, this is not mentioned anywhere, at least I could not find it. In fact Aubrey Menen was very impressed by him. In "The New Mystics" Menen describes in detail an open air meditation event at Cross Maidan, ca. 1972. He is particularly impressed that “people were shouting, singing, and performing the most extraordinary actions all over the place, but there was absolutely no sense of a crowd.” He also reflects on the twenty minutes of silence which is the second part of the meditation, and calls it “that sort of silence which only a great solo musician can command.”
I wonder why this is never mentioned in revieuws or tributes (like here)about Aubrey Menen.
Maddy said…
thanks saskia.
I got the mystics a month ago, yet to read it.
will update the post after I do..
In fact I collected most of his works over the past few months!
Chandy said…
Beautiful summation of Aubrey's mark on English literature. I for one grew up hiding a copy of the banned Ramayana, as retold by Aubrey Menen. Nice tribute to Aubrey, by Maddy. Enjoyed every word of it.
Toronto Indian said…
I have reprinted this on my blog. http://desispeaks.com/aubrey-menen-a-tribute-1912-1989/ Hope it's OK.

I am from Trivandrum myself. Read a humorous piece is Reader's Digest in the 1970s about the Muthassi meeting. We were all celebrity struck by the Madhavikutty connection.

I am in Canada.

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