Order Description

In the longer reading report, we shall summarize Gandhi’s account of himself (Autobiography [1927]), and then compare it with the biographical account in the film Gandhi (Columbia Pictures, 1982).

More precisely, we shall address two questions in parts of approximately equal length:

What is Gandhi’s overall or major argument(s)? In other words, what does the Autobiography try to do? When summarizing the book, try to read critically. Look for major and recurring themes at significant places, and try not to become absorbed in the details (however tempting this might be). We would like to view “the forest,” not so much “the trees”.

How does Gandhi’s self-portrayal in the Autobiography compare with the portrayal in Gandhi (part 1 = 0:00-1:31:45)? What are some major similarities and major differences between the two? And what might be reasons for certain of these? The book and the first part of the film overlap roughly in their coverage of Gandhi, presenting his life through 1919. You may begin reading the Autobiography and watching the entire part 1 of Gandhi as soon as you wish.

The reason for this exercise is to think critically and comparatively about different portrayals of a person. Often, we assume that a film shows history “as it was,” but this is not necessarily the case. To be sure, the film Gandhi is a landmark (it won nine Academy Awards) and for good reasons; it is a powerful and in many ways accurate work. But some people have critiqued it for alleged departures from the historical record. I would like you to draw out what you see as significant similarities and differences between the two. Reflect also on possible reasons for certain of the similarities and/or differences that you observe.

Keep in mind a few guidelines. First, the report should not exceed 1375 words. Second, please do not consult secondary sources; read Gandhi’s work and reflect on what you read;1 you may, though, employ knowledge from lessons or readings prior to the date on which the report is due.2 Third, please complete this assignment on your own, and please incorporate footnotes or parenthetical citations (i.e., page references) for ideas in the text.