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Truthforce

In response to:

Letter to Gandhi from the July 31, 1969 issue

To the Editors:

In his “Letter to Gandhi” in your issue of July 31, 1969, Professor Erik H. Erikson writes, “On another occasion your twenty-year-old son was ‘assaulted’ by ‘a married woman’ (according to Fischer’s strange phrasing).” Here Mr. Erikson’s footnote reads: “Louis Fischer, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 207.” At that place my text says: “a…young Indian married woman successfully assaulted Manilal’s virginity.” What is so strange about this phrasing? How would Professor Erikson have stated it in print?

Louis Fischer

Princeton, N.J.

Erik H Erikson replies:

There are a number of literal translations of Satyagraha. I have chosen Truthforce as the shortest and most sloganlike term which also most adequately expresses what all these translations have in common: an active and forceful quality, in contrast to “Passive Resistance.” Mr. Gupta’s remarks about India’s women are very well taken and, I think, in line with the rest of my book.

I found Mr. Fischer’s phrase strange, although (or maybe just because) it is probably quite descriptive of the way such an episode was looked upon in Gandhi’s immediate circle. However, this side remark was in no way meant to detract from Louis Fischer’s unique contribution to the early understanding of the Mahatma in the West.

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