Ved Mehta

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Ved Parkash Mehta (born 21 March 1934) is a India-Born writer who was born in Lahore, British India (now a Pakistani city) to a Punjabi Hindu family. He lost his sight at the age of three to cerebrospinal meningitis.[1] Because of the limited prospects for blind people in general,[2] his mother, Shanti Mehta, and father, Amolak Ram Mehta, a doctor, sent him over 1,300 miles away[2] to the Dadar School for the Blind in Bombay.[3]


He was educated at Pomona College, at Balliol College, Oxford where he read Modern History, and at Harvard University, where he earned a double BA and MA.[4] While at Pomona, one of Mehta's student readers, because very few books were available in Braille at that time, was Eugene Rose, who went on to become the Russian Orthodox hieromonk Father Seraphim Rose. Mehta referred to him in two books, one of which was Stolen Light, his second book of memoirs: "I felt very lucky to have found Gene as a reader. ... He read with such clarity that I almost had the illusion that he was explaining things."[5][6]


Mehta has lived in the Western world since 1949; he became an American citizen in 1975. His first book, an autobiography called Face to Face, which placed his early life in the context of Indian politics and history and Anglo-Indian relations, was published in 1957.[3] Mehta published his first novel, Delinquent Chacha in 1966. It was serialized in the New Yorker.[7] Since then he has written more than 24 books, including several that deal with the subject of blindness, as well as hundreds of articles and short stories, for British, Indian and American publications. He was a staff writer at The New Yorker from 1961 to 1994, during which time Spy magazine published a critical article about his misogynist attitude toward his assistants and writings that were frequently regarded as dull and self-indulgent.[8] He left the magazine after, as he has claimed, he was "terminated" by editor Tina Brown.[9]

One of the articles he wrote for The New Yorker in 1961 consisted of interviews with famous Oxford philosophers. A volume of the letters of one of those philosophers, Isaiah Berlin, contains an honest response to Mehta's inquiry about the reactions of his subjects: "You ask me what the reactions of my colleagues are to your piece on Oxford Philosophy... [T]hose to whom I have spoken are in various degrees outraged or indignant ... The New Yorker is a satirical magazine, and I assume from the start that a satire was intended and not an accurate representation of the truth. In any case, only a serious student of philosophy could attempt to do that."[10] The article was published as a book, now including Oxford historians as well, Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals (1962).

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009.[11]

In 2014, during the annual Jaipur Literary Festival, Mehta said that living in India would never have been possible for him as he could not live in an "anarchy", but admitted that he keenly followed Indian political developments.

Personal life[edit]

His wife, Linn Fenimore Cooper Mehta (née Cary), the daughter of William Lucius Cary and Katherine Lemoine Fenimore Cary (née Cooper), is a descendant of James Fenimore Cooper and niece of Mehta's former New Yorker colleague Henry Sage Fenimore Cooper, Jr.; they married in 1983.[1]

Selected works[edit]

  • Face to Face (autobiography, 1957)
  • Walking the Indian Streets (travel journal, 1960)
  • Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals (contemporary philosophy and historiography; Boston: Little Brown, 1962)
  • The New Theologian (Christian theology; New York, Harper and Row, 1966)
  • Delinquent Chacha (novel; New York: Harper and Row, 1966)
  • Portrait of India (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1970)
  • John Is Easy to Please: Encounters with the Written and the Spoken Word (transformational grammar 1971), ISBN 0-374-17986-7
  • Daddyji (biography, 1972), ISBN 0-374-13438-3
  • Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles (portrait of Gandhi, 1977), ISBN 0-670-45087-1
  • The New India (study of modernisation, 1978), ISBN 0-670-50735-0
  • A Family Affair: India Under Three Prime Ministers (1982) ISBN 0-19-503118-0
  • A Ved Mehta Reader: The Craft of the Essay (Yale, 1998) ISBN 978-0-300-07561-8
  • All for Love (2002) ISBN 1-56025-321-5



  1. ^ a b Leland, John (22 May 2003). "At Home With Ved Mehta: In a Dark Harbor, A Bright House". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b Booth, Tony; Swann, Will; Masterton, Mary (1992). Learning for All: Curricula for Diversity in Education. Routledge. p. 312. ISBN 0-415-07184-4.
  3. ^ a b Kendrick, Baynard (25 August 1957). "Seeking the Light". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "When loss isn't' less". Financial Express. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
  5. ^ Mehta, Ved (2008). Stolen Light. Townsend Press. p. 160. ISBN 1-59194-095-8.
  6. ^ Scott, Cathy (2002). Seraphim Rose: The True Story and Private Letters. Regina Orthodox Press. ISBN 1-928653-01-4.
  7. ^ "Ved Mehta" Current Biography 1975.The H.W Wilson Company. 1975.271.
  8. ^ Conant, Jannett (September 1989). "Slaves of The New Yorker". Spy Magazine: 112.
  9. ^ Kuczinski, Alex (11 January 1999). "Writer Finds No Room at the Library". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Berlin, Isiah (2016) Building: Letters 1960 - 1975.Penguin Random House UK. p.77.
  11. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.

External links[edit]