MK Gandhi: Speeches and Writings […] authorized up-to-date and comprehensive collection. Madras, G.A. Natesan & Co., [c.1918]. 8vo. pp. xvi, 296, [viii] adverts + pp. [xvi] b/w illustrations; original green paper wrappers, worn. Internal evidence derived from the text and the publisher’s advertisements reveals that this collection was published at the very end of 1917 or early in 1918.
Natesan, an Indian nationalist publisher who had sent funds to Gandhi in South Africa and who hosted Gandhi and his wife when they stayed in Madras in 1915, claims in his preface that “this is the first attempt to bring under one cover an authorized, exhaustive and up-to-date collection of the speeches and writings of M.K. Gandhi”. He adds: “the publishers desire to take this opportunity to convey their thanks to Mr Gandhi for the permission accorded to them to bring out this edition of his speeches and writings and for furnishing them with copies of several of his hitherto unpublished speeches as also with English translations of some of his writings and addresses in Guzarati”. Natesan reinforces this sense of Gandhi’s personal involvement with by reproducing a photograph of the author and his wife with the publisher taken in Madras in 1915.
This is a scarce and ephemeral title, with no copies recorded at auction and with only one recorded institutional example of this edition, held by the British Library. Another edition, tentatively dated 1917 by the British Library cataloguer, was published in Madras by Ganesh & Co. It appears to be a well-intentioned pirate edition, published without Gandhi’s direct involvement. Establishing primacy is difficult – both books contain works dating to November 1917. It might be possible to read into Natesan’s emphasis on printing an up-to-date authorised edition a certain annoyance that another publisher had pipped him to the post with (what he considered to be) an inferior collection, but that remains pure conjecture.