Review: Gandhi’s Printing Press
On a winter’s day in 1904, four wagons, each pulled by 16 oxen, set off from Durban with a load of precious cargo. Fording rivers and braving rugged terrain, they reached their destination safely, with the burden being unloaded and installed in a corrugated iron building. The cargo was the printing equipment of an organization known as the International Printing Press, which had just been shifted to the first structure of the 100-acre Phoenix settlement, Gandhi’s South Africa ashram. From its plates emerged periodicals and publications that were immensely influential in disseminating Gandhi’s ideas.
In a fascinating new book, Gandhi’s Printing Press, Johannesburg professor Isabel Hofmeyr discusses and analyses the origin and nature of these publications, 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.