Isabel Hofmeyr. Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2013. 218p, ill. ISBN 9780674072794. US $24.95 (hardback).
Can we really ignore a man whose face keeps appearing on every banknote printed in the Republic of India during the last 69 years? More importantly, given Gandhi’s known hostility to the Western ideals of politics and technological progress, can we ignore the nature of contradictions inherent in his use of the printing press as an experimental device for political and spiritual communication?
If printing, according to McLuhan, was a ditto device which first outlined the contours of the West-European idea of ‘nationalism,’ the ubiquitous Gandhi face on the Indian banknote is an important reminder of the fact as how that idea was appropriated, reinterpreted, and powerfully reinforced by the medium of print in non-Western societies.