30 Jan 2009

“A Typical, Politically Minded Proletarian”

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Lt. Gen. H.G. Martin, in his memoir of soldiering and sport in pre-War British India, Sunset From the Main (1951), recalls an unpleasant encounter on angling expedition to the Simla Hills in search of mahseer.

The steep path dropped down to the bed of the gorge past brakes of thorn and matted evergreen and across unexpected lawns where the encircling cactus reared its knotted candleabras, rigid and grotesque as submarine coral-beds. In these occasional clearings troops of brown monkeys basked, scratching in the sunshine: plebeian monkeys, vulgar, thieving, shameless, who lowered and gibbered as we passed. I do not love the brown monkey. Who has ever seen him look pleasant? A typical, politically minded proletarian, he has the Communist’s capacity for hating all creation.

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