Monday, 22 March 2010


Satyagraha, Philip Glass's opera about Mahatma Gandhi's early struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa, is currently playing at the ENO. I went to see it last week and the production is three hours of stunning music and staging. See here and here for expert reviews, and here for a digest of the plot.

Satyagraha was the Sanskrit name Gandhi gave his theory of non-violent, or "passive resistance". Central to promoting these principles was the Indian Opinion, a weekly publication that at its height had an estimated readership of 20,000 in South Africa alone. As such, newspapers are a running image in the production, particularly in Act II where giant rolls of newsprint are stretched across the stage, before Gandhi ends up disappearing into a mass of paper and people.

I was curious to know how the paper was viewed in Britain and so turned to the Guardian/Observer digital archive. As part of the Miscellany column, the following piece appeared in the Guardian on January 24 1905:

(click to enlarge)

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