Abu Sayeed Ayyub’s letter to Allen Ginsberg on Hungryalist movement

( This is the infamous letter which Prof Abu Sayeed Ayyub wrote to Allen Ginsberg on 31st October 1964. Ayyub was the Kolkata head of Indian Committe for Cultural Freedom. Ginsberg had requested Ayyub to allow the Committee to help the arrested Hungryalists with qualified lawyers and finances. Ayyub not only refused but he resorted to misinformation in this letter. It has now transpired that Ayyub was one of them who had pressurized West Bengal administration to take action against the Hungryalist poets and writers. )

Dear Mr Ginsberg,

I am amazed to get your  pointlessly discourteous letter of 13th. That you agree with the Communist characterization of the Congress for Cultural Freedom as a fraud and a bullshit intellectual liberal anti-communist syndicate did not, however, surprise me; for I never thought the Congress had any charge of escaping your contempt for everything ‘bourgeois’ or ‘respectable’.

If any known Indian literature or intellectual come under police repression for their literary or intellectual work, I am sure the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom would move in the matter without any ungraceful promptings from you. I am glad to tell you that no repressions of any kind has taken place here currently. Malay Roychoudhury and his young friends of the Hungry Generation have not produced any worthwhile to my knowledge, though they have produced and distributed a lot of self-advertizing leaflets and printed letters abusing distinguished people in filthy and obscene language ( I hope you agree that the word ‘Fuck’ is obscene and ‘Bastard’ at least in the sentence “Fuck the bastards of the Gangshalik School of Poetry’, they have used worse language in regard to poets whom they have not hesitated to refer to by name ). Recently they hired a woman to exhibit her bosom in public and invited a lot of people including myself to witness this wonderful avant garde exhibition  ! You may think it your duty to promote in the name of Cultural Freedom such adolescent pranks in Calcutta from half way round the world. You would permit me to differ from you in regard to what is my duty.

It was of course foolish of the police to play into the hands of these young men and hold a few of them in custody for a few days ( they have all been released now ) thus giving the publicity and some public sympathy—publicity is precisely what they want to gain through their pranks.

I do not agree with you that it is the prime task of the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom to take up the cause of these immature imitators of American Beatnik Poetry. I respect your knowledge of European literature but can not permit myself to be guided by your estimation of writers in my language —- a language of which you choose to remain totally ignorant.

With all good wishes in spite of  our grave disagreements and in admiration of some of your wonderful poems.

Yours Sincerely

Abu Sayeed Ayyub


( Incidentally, Prof Ayyub’s mother tongue was Urdu and not Bengali as claimed by him )



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