Jeffrey Masson has written a stunning coming-of-age story-an astonishing “prequel” to his critically acclaimed Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst.
Masson grew up in the 1940s and 1950s with a guru in his house - the celebrated mystic Paul Brunton (“P.B.” to those who knew him), who numbered Masson's parents among his handful of close disciples and singled out young Jeff as a potential heir to his spiritual kingdom. In 1956, P.B. convinced the Massons that a third world war was imminent and recommended they move to Montevideo, a “safe” location. From Uruguay, Masson went off at P.B.'s bidding to study Sanskrit at Harvard, where he came to understand the man was not what he presented himself to be.
Written with wit and affection tinged with disillusion that is never bitter, My Father's Guru is a fascinating memoir in the tradition of Geoffrey Wolff's The Duke of Deception: a book not only about P.B., but about what it means to grow up in the shadow of a man who laid claim to such enormous power. In emerging from the hothouse world of spirituality, Masson began a journey through disillusion into a critical understanding of the roots of power and powerlessness.
“A strikingly discerning and fair-minded account of the guru's world, as shrewd and lucid in its way as Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's Three Continents or John Updike's equally knowing S. What Masson has given us is a measured, and often touching, view of a teacher as seen by a friendly son... And the great strength of Masson's book is that he tells it all with air of wry, and often affectionate, briskness, not without its humour... This is a book for sceptic and true believer alike.”
– Pico Iyer, Times Literary Supplement