Ved Mehta has now completed an extraordinary and grand achievement: the series of eleven books, written (between other books) over many years, called ‘Continents of Exile’. It is the history of his remarkable life, told in a way that illuminates much of life in general.
Ved was struck blind just before he was four, at a time when, in India, blindness was seen as punishment for sins in a past life, which wiped out any prospect of a career or of marriage. In defiance of this, he developed an almost obsessive determination to behave as though he were not blind. This strategy, with its conflicting advantages and disadvantages, shaped his life almost as much as did the strength of his intelligence, and has coloured much of ‘Continents of Exile’. I shall discuss only the last four of its books, but they all contain enough retrospective material to put a newcomer in the picture.
It might be as well to start with All for Love, because it opens with a brilliant account of exactly how Ved developed his almost uncanny ability to behave as though he were not blind. This prefaces the stories of four passionate love affairs with women who could not have