Urdu Literature

 

URDU LITERATURE

WRITERS



Mir Amman
Mir Taqi Mir

Mirza Ghalib
Mirza Hadi Ruswa
Mohammad Iqbal
Premchand
Abul Kalam Azad
Firaq Gorakhpuri
Makhdoom Mohiuddin
Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Ismat Chughtai
Rajinder Singh Bedi
Quarratulain Hyder
Saadat Hasan Manto
Ali Sardar Jafri

Phanishwar Nath 'Renu'
Shrilal Shukla
Mohan Rakesh
Dharmavir Bharati
Raghuvir Sahay
Nirmal Verma



Mir Amman (later 17th and early 18th century): Mir Amman is known for his tale Bagh-o-Bahar (The Spring Garden). Bagh-o-Bahar is a qissa, a tale of fair length. Mir Amman, an employee of the College of Fort William at Calcutta, wrote it at the request of John Gilchrist, the famous scholar. Mir Amman's tale is rather a retelling - in simpler and more effective Urdu - of a linguistically more elaborate and difficult Urdu translation of an 18th century Indo-Persian tale whose author is not known. In Persian it is usually referred to as The Qissa of Four Dervishes. Bagh-o-Bahar was prepared in 1801.

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Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810): Mir Taqi Mir was the first of the top ranking poets of Urdu. His fame and greatness is based on his bulky volume of collected verse, i.e. Kulliyat-e-Mir, almost all of it on themes of love. His Muamlat-e-Ishq (The Stages of Love) is one of the greatest known love poems in Urdu literature.

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Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869): An aristocrat, courtier at the pre-1857 Mughal court, wit, poet and prose-writer in both Persian and Urdu, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was the greatest of all the classical Urdu poets, and his Persian verse is of the same high quality. His Divan-e-Ghalib has become the touchstone of poetic taste. In 1828 he compiled a combined selection of his Urdu and Persian verse Gul-e-Rana. His Urdu Diwan was published in 1847. Ghalib was a prolific writer of letters too. Ghalib's poetry is very philosophical and rich in meaning. He was undoubtedly the heavy-weight of Urdu poetry who ruled and continues to rule the hearts of connoiseurs of Urdu literature. At times quite difficult to decipher, his poetry has a depth that remains a benchmark in this beautiful language.

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Mirza Mohd. Hadi Ruswa (1858-1931): One of the pioneers of Urdu novel in the modern sense of the term, Ruswa was a versatile genius. He wrote fiction, poetry, plays, treatises on Religion, Philosophy and Astronomy. In his celeberated Umrao Jan Ada (a novel about a courtesan) Ruswa achieved an artistic success unequalled in his own time and for a long time afterwards.
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Sir Mohammed Iqbal (1877-1938): Born in Sialkot, Iqbal obtained a Ph.D from Munich for his work on the metaphysics of Persia. He developed his philosophy of Khudi (Selfhood) in which influences of Rumi and German Vitalism were assimilated into Quaranic thought. His principal works are Bang-e-Dara (Caravan's Call) 1924, Bal-e-Jibreel (Gabriel's Wing) 1935, Zarb-e-Kaleem (The Blow of Moses) 1936 and Armughan-e-Hijaz (The Gift of Hijaz) 1938. Some of his best known poems are Zauk-e-Shauk (The Longing), Masjid-e-Qartaba (The Mosque of Cordova) and Saqi Nama (Ode to Saqi).
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Premchand (1880-1936): Premchand was born on July 31, 1880 in a village called "Lamahi", about four miles from the city of Benares, to an ordinary working family. He is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century India who wrote both in Urdu and Hindi. A prolific writer, he wrote some 12 novels and 300 short stories. He brought into the ambit of literature the life of ordinary people of India - the masses in the villages among whom he lived. His best known works are Godan, Maidan-e-Amal, Karmbhoomi, Nirmala, Gaban, Sevaasadan, Manorama, Premaashram, Varadaan, Ranga Bhoomi, Prathijna, etc. Premchand's writings have been translated not only into all Indian languages, but also Russian, Chinese, and many other foreign languages. He spent his life as an ordinary school teacher, freedom fighter, social reformer and editor.
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Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958): Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, one of the prominent Indian National leaders, was an eminent Urdu writer with a philosophical bend. His works include Tarjuman-ul-Quran (Commentary on the Quran), Tazkirah (Autobiographical Account) Ghubar-e-Khatir (The Dust of Memories). Universally acclaimed for its literary merit, Ghubar-e-Khatir represents Azad's versatile genius and multifaceted personality. It has its own place in the genre of epistolary literature.
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Firaq Gorakhpuri (1896-1982): Raghupati Sahai Firaq is one of the major Indian poets of this century, both in terms of contribution he made to the enrichment of Urdu poetry and the influence he exercised upon his age. Sublimation of pain and celebration of human love are the characteristic features of Firaq's ghazal. Firaq's first collection of verse is Gul-e-Nagma (The Music Flower) won the Sahitya Academy Award in 1960.

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Makhdoom Mohiuddin (1908-'69): Born in a village in Medak, a district of the former princely state of Hyderabad, Makhdoom Mohiuddin grew up to become a poet of incredible versatility. He is best known for his verse collection Bisat-e-Raqs (The Dance Floor). His published works include an essay Tagore amd his Poetry, a play, Hosh ke Nakhun (Unravelling), an adaptation of Shaw's Widowers' Houses, and a collection of prose essays. Bisat-e-Raqs is a complete collection of Makhdoom's verse including his two earlier collections Surkh Savera (The Red Dawn) 1944, and Gul-e-Tar (The Dewdrenched Rose) 1961

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Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-84): The Urdu poet who became a legend during his lifetime, and who may be ranked next only to Ghalib, Mir, Firaq and Iqbal is Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Poet, journalist and liberal humanist Faiz was committed to the uplift of the downtrodden and the oppressed. Faiz published seven collections of verse, Naqsh-e-Faryadi being the first and the greatest. His collected works, Sare Sukhan Hamare appeared from London in1982 and Nuskha-hae-Wafa from Lahore and Delhi in 1984.
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Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991): A crusader for the rights of women and the downtrodden, Ismat Chughtai was a leading fiction writer in Urdu. Her major short story collections are Kaliyan (The Buds), Choten (Injuries), Chooi Mooi (Fragile), Ek Baat (A Point) and Do Haath (Two Hands). Her novels are Tehri- Lakeer (The Crooked Line), Ziddi (The Obstinate), Ek Qatra-e-Khoon (A Drop of Blood), Dil Ki Duniya (Heart's World) and Bahroop Nagar (The Deceptive Town)

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Rajinder Singh Bedi (1915-'84): Born and educated near Sialkot (now in Pakistan) Bedi started his writing career in Lahore where he worked for the All India Radio. Two of his collections of short stories, Dana-o-Daam (The Catch) and Grehan (The Eclipse) were published before the Partition. His novel Ek Chader Maili Si (A Sheet Soiled and Torn) first published in 1972 won the Sahitya Academy Award.

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Qurratulain Hyder (b.1927): A trendsetter in Urdu fiction. She began writing at a time when the novel was yet to establish itself as a serious genre in the poetry-oriented world of Urdu literature. She lifted it out of its stagnation, divested it of its obsession with fantasy, romance and facile realism. She offered it extraordinary range and depth and brought to its ambit, hitherto unexplored terrains of human thought and sensibility. A prolific writer, she has so far written some 12 novels and novellas, four collections of short stories and has done a significant amount of translation of classics. She received the Jnanpith Award on her later novel, Aakhir-e-Shab ke Hamsafar (Travellers Unto the Night). Aag ka Darya (River of Fire) is her greatest novel which is a tour de force in Urdu and possibly in Indian fiction as a whole.

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Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55), one of the few Urdu writers who both shaped and flouted the prevailing ideologies of his time, continues to speak in a fresh voice to contemporary readers. A member of the Progressive Writers' Movement, which swept through Urdu literature from 1935 to 1960, Manto was a very controversial figure. Although he contributed to several literary genres, he was at his best in his collections of short stories. These stories written before Independence, reflect his genuine concern for progressive aims and portray the goodness of lower class characters who dwell on the fringes of society. His stories boldly challenged the conventional mores by unabashedly discussing male and female sexuality. A recurrent theme of these works is the exploitation of women by supposedly respectable men, focussing on the decrepit lives of prostitutes. Manto, like many of the Progressives, was deeply traumatised by the Partition. and expressed his feelings in many of his stories. He learnt to pen short stories by studying the works of the 19th century French and Russian realists. His stubborn upholding of his personal point of view and choice of subject matter, in the face of public censure, continues to inspire budding writers even today. Manto ke Numainda Afsane (Short stories of Manto), has been translated as Kingdom's End and other stories. Toba Tek Singh, Khol Do, and Thanda Ghosht are some of his stories known for the ambivalent depiction of man and his relationship with man, country and woman.
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Ali Sardar Jafri (1913): Winner of the 1997 Jnanpith award for his contribution to the enrichment of Urdu literature, Jafri was born in Ballarpur town of Uttar Pradesh. He is the third Urdu poet to have won the Jnanpith award, the other two being Firaq and Quarratulain Hyder. The books that established him as a distinguished Indian writer are Parwaz, Nai Duniya Ko Salaam, Khoon Ki Lakeer, Asia Jag Utha, Patthar Ki Deewar, Ek Khwaab Aur, Pairahan-e-Sharar, Lahu Pukarta Hai and Manzil.
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Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' (1921-77), popularly known as Renu, is one of the great Hindi novelists of the post-Premchand era. An active political activist, one of Renu's masterpieces is Maila Anchal (The Soiled Border, 1954), a social novel that depicts the life of a region and its people, the backward and the deprived. A trailblazer in the post-Premchand period, the novel radically changed the structure and narrative style in Hindi novels. The distinct feature in the novel is that it does not possess a structured plot or story in the conventional sense. After Premchand's Godan, Maila Anchal is regarded as the most significant Hindi novel.

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Shrilal Shukla (b.1925), an IAS officer, is renowned for his objective and purposive satire in contemporary Hindi fiction. In 1957, he published his first novel, Sooni Ghat ka Sooraj (The Sun of a Desolate Valley) followed by a series of satires Amgada Ka Pamva (Angada's Foot) in 1958. His Raag Darbari (Melody of the Court, one of the ragas, 1968) is the first satirical novel of its kind in Hindi spanning a wide spectrum of post-Independence rural India, specifically Avadh. It was Shrilal Shukla who took wit, irony and sarcasm to great heights in Hindi literature. Raag Darbari is generously peppered with folk witticisms of Avadhi, the powerful dialect in which Tulasidas, Malik Mohammad Jayasi and many Sufi poets made their mark.

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Mohan Rakesh (1925-72) was one of the pioneers of the Nai Kahani movement in Hindi in the 1950s. Rakesh made significant contribution to various genres, like nove, short story, travelogue, criticism, memoirs and drama. His Ashadha Ka Ek Din (One Day in The Rainy Month of Ashadha, 1958) is a historical play suggestive of the personal dilemmas of a present day writer. Ashadha Ka Ek Din is one of the first major original plays that revived the Hindi stage in the 1960s. Among his other plays is, Adhe Adhure (The Incomplete Ones) is extremely popular with the modern middle-class audiences, and Lehron Ke Rajhamsa (The Swans of the Waves), a close study of the renunciation of the Buddha, and its effect on his own people.

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Dharmavir Bharati (b. 1926) is a renowned poet, fictionist and editor. Essentially a romantic humanist, Bharati is famous for his poignant treatment of first love, his lyricism and humanistic vision. One of his famous works is Andha Yuga (The Blind Age or The Age of Darkness), one of the most celebrated modern Hindi plays. Bharati has been honoured with some of the highest literary and State awards, including the Padma Shri.

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Raghuvir Sahay (1929-90) was a versatile Hindi poet, translator, short-story writer and journalist. The editor of the weekly Dinaman, Sahay's five books of poems includes Log Bhool Gaye Hain (They Have Forgotten, 1982) which won him the Sahitya Akademi Award. The poet of the common man, Sahay dealt with topics hitherto unexplored by other Hindi male poets. His treatment of women in his works is extraordinarily sensitive. His Atmahatya Ke Viruddha (Against Suicide, 1967) comprises 36 poems. A powerful democratic sensibility and great concern for the dispossessed, especially women, is the hallmark of his works. The marginalisation of the average person, hypocrisy of the powers that be, and the brutish violence that has crept into the system are some of his principal themes. But perseverance and going on with life clearly emerge as his mottos.

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Nirmal Verma (b.1929) together with Mohan Rakesh, Bhisham Sahni, Kamleshwar, Amarkant and others, is credited with introducing and establishing the Nai Kahani (the modernist new short story) in Hindi literature. His technical wizardry and cosmopolitan sensibility render Nirmal Verma a one-of-a-kind artiste. Although he has published four novels, six collections of essays and cultural criticism, it is his short stories that beautifully bring out his ethereal sensitivity, lyricism and profound compassion. Kavve aur Kala Paani (Crows and the Black Waters, 1983) translated as The Crows of Deliverance, comprises seven of Verma's latest stories, which deal with the spiritual ills that afflict his characters, mostly from the urban middle class.

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