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Letter from Har Dayal to Van Wyck Brooks (May 4, 1914)
Letter from Har Dayal to Van Wyck Brooks, dated May 4, 1914 and posted from Lausanne, Switzerland. Dayal expresses his fears of being surveilled, advising Brooks not to openly support the Indian independence cause or to speak against England. Dayal also mentions Brooks should be careful about one of Brooks' acquaintances, L. De Foureka (Toureka?) and to "never tell anybody anything about me." Dayal also defends the literary and medical professions, arguing that "[i]n this capitalistic regime, liter. & medicine may escape the taint of complete subservience to the Money-Power." Dayal makes plans to visit Brooks in Brittany, when he visits Europe. Of note, Dayal also mentions Frieda Hauswirth, with whom he "passed through a peculiar experience through [his] friendship with her at Palo Alto." He also mentions Guy Aldred, the British anarchist, and asks Brooks to communicate with him and ask for potential contacts. He discusses plans to write a book titled The Tune-Spirit, tracing the different political tendencies of 19th century civilization.
Date: May 4, 1914
Creator: Har Dayal
Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
Post Restante Lausanne May 4 My dear Brooks, Glad to get your interesting letter, half of which is soliloquy, I believe. But one must soliloquize to friends, as I do. Thanks very much for your efforts on my behalf. Send me the evening post letter if you get it. But you should be v. careful about openly expressing your sympathy with the Indian movement or its representatives, if you intend to have a career in England. Patriotism is England's religion, & they never forgive or even tolerate a person, who doesn't worship "the Empire". I know it is intolerable for a man to gag himself, but reticence is the price we pay for existence in this system of society. I say this only because you may underestimate the strength of English feeling against those who are making trouble for England in India. The "authorities" (& they include all men of ?? in any walk of life) take the India unrest very seriously indeed, & it is no use making enemies for yourself at the start. I would also ask you to be on your guard abt the gentleman L. De Foureka, whom you have mentioned several times. Does he come often to see you or why? What does he talk about? You have to be careful. And never tell anybody anything about me, thought he may represent himself as a friend of mine & may actually be so. You shd. be altogether silent about me & say that you knew me at Stanford. That's all. Nothing about the present. I am thinking of writing a book, though I often hesitate on the score of lack of qualificn. But then I think that if one argues in this way, one would never achieve anything. Yes, you are right, Brooks. You can never express one corner of yrself. Life is so (d---d) short for anything. Compare our Aspiration with our Achievement -- its disgusting. You are too hard on life, though. of course, there is literature & literature. One cannot write much that really counts. But of all professions, literature & medicine are the best, I shd. think. Look at the alternatives - law (!), business (!), the church, the army, etc, etc. In this capitalistic regime, liter. & medicine may escape the taint of complete subservience to the Money-Power, but other professions are totally mercenary & servile. You see that when you get out of the productive working class (not the servile section of it that merely caters to the rich), you have to misuse your intellect to a certain extent in order to earn a "decent" living. So you need not judge literature harshly. You can't expect to confound liter. as a liberal profession with literature as art. The function of the first is the popularization of truth -- what a fraud function in itself! The function of the second is creative. Now as a man of letters, you are the retail-dealer of truth & knowledge, & your earnings are your wages. Then why expect lite. of that kind to do more. Its to expressing yourself that is a different kind of literature. One & the same person may produce both kinds of literature, or he may not. That depends. But really, if I were to choose a profession, which has a certain percentage of idealism in it, it wd be literature or medicine. You need not be too discontented with yourself! That money problem is a continual bother, I agree. But you must not look too far ahead. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. If you can land something permanent, it will save you from continual worry. I thought you had already secured such a position when you left Stanford. And then, one can get on with a sufficiency -- one need not multiply wants, & one must control the women & prevent them from spending too much. I say this as a general proposition relating to money matters. I think I shall be able to come & spend a fortnight with you in Brittany, if you go there. There is not much difference between the fare to Brittany & Switzd, once you are out of England. Any way, I shall try my best to come & see you wherever you are. Charlie must have grown a big boy now - have you got some recent photo. By the bye, Frieda is in Switzerland with her folks. Do you know her or of her? I passed through a peculiar experience through my friendship with her at Palo Alto. More ?? Perhaps you knew something about it there. I am wondering if I should see her. We have always been in touch through correspondence. Don't mention this to your wife. I am glad that the book on Wells will come out in the Forum. Well, there you see what good work it is. The ideas & work of a socialist & utopian will reach thousands of the common people through your pen. What more do you want? You render social service & also earn a living. You're lucky. Just think how many intellectuals have to be anti-social in order to earn a living. I believe I shall write a book on "The Tune-Spirit", & shall trace the different tendencies of XIX century civilizn making for progress, finishing with the synthesis that I approve of. It will be a kind of survey (from the anarchistic strand pt of XIX history, descriptive & critical, having for tis central theme the dissolution of medievalism & the introdn of Anarchism (in its broad sense). You know medievalism is not dead yet - not by any means. And the book will try to ask & answer the question, "Watchman, what of the night?" What do you think of the subject? Tell me your opinion. If you have occasion to see Aldred again, please ask him to tell you the address of some discreet friends, to whom I may send letters, packets for him. I don't want to write to him directly. Please don't forget this, and communicate to me the address that he gives. Have you met any personalities worth while? Tell me if you have. Send me things that you publish. How can I keep track of them? Give my fondest love & a box of chocolates on my behalf to Charlie (babies can't understand love which does not materialize in the form of sweets), & convey my best regard to Mrs. Brooks. Yours affl Har Dayal Swizer is name of a friend here. I put it on the envelope so that I may get it back in case it was not delivered. You can write to my address.
Holding Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Collection: Van Wyck Brooks Papers
Item History: 2011-11-27 (created); 2020-04-24 (modified)
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