Abu Sayeed Ayyub’s letter to Allen Ginsberg against Hungry Generation movement.

31st October, 1964. Pearl Road, Calcutta

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 For Cultural Freedom had any chance of escaping your contempt for everything ‘bourgeois’ or ‘respectable’.

If any known Indian literature or intellectual had 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 prompting from you. I am glad to tell you that no repression of that 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-advertising leaflets and printed  letters abusing distinguished persons in filthy and obscene language ( I hope you would agree that the word ‘Fuck’ is obscene and ‘Bastard’ filthy 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 your duty to promote in the name of Cultural Freedom such adolescent pranks in Calcutta from halfway round the world. You should permit me to differ from you in regard to what is my duty.

It was of course foolish of the Police to play into 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 your grave disagreements and in admiration of some of your wonderful poems.

Yours Sincerely

Abu Sayeed Ayyub

( Allen Ginsberg did not know that one of the complainants to Police was Mr Ayyub himself. The Indian Committee For Cultural Freedom had to wind up in India because of Mr. Ayyub’s assessment of the literary contribution of the Hungry Generation movement. )

 

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