Our eclectic series Transcript, which covers the migration of text and ideas across languages, has a new forthcoming title: Making Masud Khan: Psychoanalysis, Empire and Modernist Culture by Benjamin Poore. This will be volume 9, and takes us into the connected lands of Freudian theory and literary criticism.
Khan was, to be sure, an author, and wrote his thesis on James Joyce. He was also, professionally (and sometimes unprofessionally), a psychoanalyst. Born to a very wealthy family in the Punjab in 1924, he was suave, handsome, stylish, sometimes cruel, and revelled in being an exotic figure in London. Tellingly, he wrote of himself that 'My roots are sunk deep and widespread across three cultures.' He married a ballerina. He went drinking with Peter O'Toole. He affected the possibly legitimate title of Prince Raja Khan. And on the other hand, he was part of the knot of English Freudians, and knew Anna Freud and Donald Winnicott well.
Khan died only in 1989, but has already had three biographies — books which, unsurprisingly for such a chameleon-figure, aim at sifting truth from fiction in working out what actually happened. Ben Poore's book is something different. Though it draws on important unpublished sources, it aims to give a more interior portrait, and to understand how Khan's thinking developed from a strikingly unusual confluence of traditions and movements.