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|Born||April 22, 1912|
|Died||March 13, 1989 (aged 76)|
Salvator Aubrey Clarence Menen was an English writer of Irish and Indian parentage who was primarily a satirist. He was also a drama critic, theater director, advertising agency executive, and an alumnus of University College London. His essays and novels explore the nature of nationalism and the cultural contrast between his own Irish-Indian ancestry and his traditional British upbringing. The first sentence of "Dead Man in the Silver Market" offers an example of his good-humored approach to this contentious topic: "Men of all races have always sought for a convincing explanation of their own astonishing excellence and they have frequently found what they were looking for."
Menen's retelling of the classic Hindu epic The Ramayana (1954) is meant as a funny and readable version of the work, but devout Hindus were horrified by the liberties Menen took with a sacred text and it was banned in India for some years. Menen states that his goal is to, "aim at reviving," Valmiki's, "attitude of mind." Menen's humor did not undercut his love for India, however, as can be seen in his book on Hindu mystics and his text to Roloff Beny's great book of photographs of India (India, 1969).
A quote: "There are three things which are real: God, human folly, and laughter. Since the first two pass our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third."
Asked to give advice to writers, Mr. Menen, who was admired as a satirist, told the publication Contemporary Authors that, "the aspiring writer should perform a daily physical exercise: He should sit on his bottom in front of a table equipped with writing materials," he said. "If his top end fails him, at least his nether end won't."
The Prevalence of Witches takes place in an uncivilized area of India which he calls "Limbo", possibly an homage to the work (Limbo) by Aldous Huxley whom he explicitly acknowledges in the book as one of the greatest writers of his time.
- The Prevalence of Witches (1947)
- The Stumbling-Stone (1949)
- The Backward Bride: A Sicilian Scherzo (1950)
- The Duke of Gallodoro (1952)
- The Ramayana, As Told by Aubrey Menen (1954)
- The Abode of Love: The Conception, Financing and Daily Routine of an English Harem in the Middle of the 19th Century (1956)
- The Fig Tree (1959)
- SheLa: A Satire (1962)
- A Conspiracy of Women (1965)
- Fonthill: A Comedy (1974)
- Rome Revealed (1960)
- Speaking the Language Like a Native (1962)
- India, with Roloff Beny (1969)
- Upon This Rock (1972)
- London (1976)
- Venice (1976)
- Dead Man in the Silver Market (1953)
- The Space within the Heart (1970)
- Cities in the Sand (1972)
- The New Mystics and the True Indian Tradition (1974)
- Four Days of Naples (1979)
- Art and Money (1980)
- NYT Obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/24/obituaries/aubrey-menen-76-indian-critic-novelist-and-essayist-from-britain.html
- Time magazine review of "Man Without a Country" and information about Mr. Menen: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,818777,00.html?iid=chix-sphere
- Review of, "A Conspiracy of Women": https://web.archive.org/web/20080223102005/http://myweb.unomaha.edu/~mreames/Beyond_Renault/menen.html