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Edmund WhiteMy Guru and His Disciple is a sweetly modest and honest portrait of Isherwood's spiritual instructor, Swami Prabhavananda, the Hindu priest who guided Isherwood for some thirty years. It is also a book about the often amusing and sometimes painful counterpoint between worldliness and holiness in Isherwood's own life. Sexual sprees, all-night drinking bouts, a fast car ride with Greta Garbo, scriptwriting conferences at M-G-M, intellectual sparring sessions with Berthold Brecht alternated with nights of fasting at the Vedanta Center, a six-month period of celibacy and sobriety, and the pious drudgery of translating (in collaboration with the Swami) the Bhagavad-Gita. Seldom has a single man been endowed with such strong drives toward both sensuality and spirituality, abandon and discipline; out of the passionate dialectic between these drives, My Guru and His Disciple has been written. What emerges is a record of a religious adventure that would have delighted Kierkegaard, for Isherwood rejects conventional piety-all the humdrum apparatus of worship-in favor of a direct, even jaunty appreciation of how preposterous, certainly precarious, spirituality can be today... In these pages Isherwood has reinvented the spirit of devotion for the modern reader."
—The New York Times Book Review