By J. R. Ackerley. Introduction by Eliot Weinberger. First published in 1932. New York Review of Books Classics, 2000, 320 pp.
As a fan of My Dog Tulip, J. R Ackerley’s offbeat account of his relationship with his German Shepherd Queenie, I’m not sure why I’ve come so late to Hindoo Holiday. First published in 1932, this delightful book chronicles the author's months in India as private secretary to the eccentric, insecure, indecisive, and endearing Maharajah of Chhatarpur , or Chhokrapur, as the Indian state is called in the book.
In his excellent introduction, Eliot Weinberger describes the circumstances that drew Ackerley to India in 1923 at the age of 27. He had fought in WWI, returned to attend Cambridge, published some poems, and written a play. But finding no producer for the play, with its “implicit homoeroticism,” he was “adrift,” and took up his friend E. M. Forster’s suggestion to seek the post with the Maharajah, who, like Ackerley, was gay. Hindoo Holiday itself is explicitly homoerotic and the text was cut when the book first appeared. Indeed, this is the first unexpurgated edition to be published in the West. (more…)