Urdu Adab Ki Tashkeel e Jadeed

ISBN 9780199402625
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This book follows from Nasir Abbas Nayyar’s earlier work, in which he had written of the colonial impact on the making of the ‘new Urdu literature’ of the 19th century, focusing on the power-seeking strategies of colonial rulers and seeking to analyse the response of Urdu writers towards these colonial strategies. In the present work, taking the concept of real and mythical identity from Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, Nayyar examines issues related to the conceptual and formal basis of modern Urdu literature. He develops his ideas across the panoply of modern Urdu writing, examining the patriotic poetry of Altaf Husain Hali and the conflict between the old and the new in Nazir Ahmad’s novel Taubatannasooh from a postcolonial perspective. He regards Sir Sayyad Ahmed Khan and Akbar Allahabadi as key protagonists of modern Urdu literature and employs the symbols of the mythical Greek titans Prometheus and Epimetheus to interpret their contrasting roles in the reconstruction of Urdu literature.
Moving to 20th century writing, Nayyar explains the role of Saadat Hassan Manto’s socially marginal characters in destabilising a dominating centre. He sees the ambivalence in Miraji’s poetry as a reaction to a nationalism which divides people on the basis of supposed identities. Finally, the author suggests that magical realism and ‘the other’ have deep roots in the Urdu fiction produced after independence. Citing the examples of Manto’s symbolist stories Farishta (Angel) and Phundanay (Tassels) and the surrealistic techniques employed in Quratulain Haider’s Aag ka Darya (River of Fire), he feels that eastern traditions of fiction had formerly been possessed of a meta-realist vision. The revival of interest in the Dastan and Katha in post-independence Urdu fiction, such as in Intizar Husain’s stories, can be interpreted as a reconstruction of a cultural identity mutilated by the colonial regime.