Madras: Ganesh & Co. 1922. 8vo (7 x 5 inches). xiii, , 160pp. Half-title. One illustration of a spinning wheel, or charka, on p.. Publisher’s original Khadar cloth printed in turquoise on the upper and lower boards. A near-fine copy, the binding tight with minor bumping at the extremities and toning of the spine, one small pale stain on front cover. Item #402939
FIRST EDITION, first printing. With an appreciation by Dwijendranath Tagore entitled "Dawn of a New Era": "Let critics of Mahatma Gandhi then look to History before they condemn him for trying to bring this much belauded Modern Civilisation down to the common starting point of all great civilisations. We are at the dawn of a New Era, and Mahatma Gandhi is the one leader who shows us the right path..."
This is Gandhi's fourth, and perhaps scarcest, book, published in the year of his arrest, trial, and conviction for sedition (resulting in a six-year prison sentence). Gandhi promotes the spinning wheel – the wheel of the title and illustrated on the cover – as a means to break from British rule. The production of cloth as the path to gain independence is referenced in the very binding of the book, which reads "Clothed in Khadar" on the front and boldly urges readers to "USE KHADAR" on the back: "Mahatma Gandhi writes from the Sabarmati Jail: 'I am indifferent to whatever else the country may do, so long as the cause of the Khadi and the Charka is well looked after. It must be clearly understood that there is no salvation for us until the Khadar programme is completely worked."
The Swadeshi movement, backing Nationalist politicians and boycotting foreign cloth, attracted Gandhi and his anti-industrialization cause. Gandhi started spinning his own cloth, encouraged others to do so, and made it obligatory for all members of the Indian National Congress to spin cotton and pay their dues in yarn. "For Gandhi the post-colonial self could not be forged in a clear-cut instant by simply negating the colonizing other: independence, self-determination were not so much ready-made states of being and mind as a self-creating process on the part of the colonized – a struggle to awaken new capabilities and qualities in themselves no less than in the colonizer... Gandhi grounds the search in homespun – the 'rudimentary' mode of textile-making, but something not out of people's reach, even the poor. They, above all, would need to experience through spinning and weaving a sense of what it might mean to do things for themselves, to stand on their own feet. Gandhi put great store on it as a practical-symbolic mode of shaking off the sense of dependency, for grasping the idea that deliverance from colonial subjugation lay at their own hands... (Sarat Maharaj, "Arachne's Genre: Towards Inter-Cultural Studies in Textiles," in: Journal of Design History, v.4, n.2 , p.88).
The text collects many of Gandhi's essays, including "Boycott of Goods vs. Non-co-operation Programme", "Indian Economics", "How to Boycott Foreign Cloth", "The Music of the Spinning Wheel", "Hand-spinning and Hand-weaving", "A Plea for Spinning", "The Doctrine of Charka", "The Charka in the Gita", "Spinning as Famine Relief", and "A Model Weaving School". A fine copy of a scarce book.