Urdu is one of the few Indian languages which carved out its own critical idiom different from Sanskrit, classical Arabic or Persian poetics though it benefitted greatly from these same sources. Early compositions hardly show any tendency towards critical formulation, so much so that Kalimuddin Ahmad, a literary critic of the 20th century, in his Urdu Tanqid Par Ek Nazar, denied the very existence of literary criticism in Urdu.
Even the first poet in Urdu, however, had some conception about the essential canons of criticism. After the models of the Arab and Persian poetry, poesy was deemed a divine gift bestowed upon genius to enthuse and sublimate fellowmen by conveying to them a new vision of life expressed through the artistic use of imagination and an interplay of emotions, thought and sensibility communicated through the most appropriate, effective and melodious words. What is important is that since its inception, poetry and with it the canons of literary criticism, have been a part of culture – a way of life lending significance and colour to an otherwise drab existence.
The poet (and the writer) was something of the troubadour of the tribe, the court scribe, or the reporter of the ruling chieftains. The earliest Persian treatise, Chhar Miqala of Urudhi Samarqandi, enumerates various examples which scribes communicated to the court the happenings on a battlefied in short, precise, enjoyable and suggestive sentences.
In its definition of literature (poetry) it gives the highest priority to the role of imagination as a systematizer of observation, cognition and expression. This may be traced in the compositions of the first Urdu poet, Amir Khusrau, whose Anmils (Couplet & Couplets versifying disparate words) and Pahelis (versified riddles) combine various objects into a single, meaningful and enjoyable sequence through a flash of imagination.
In the Deccan, the poet emerged as the chronicler of myths, legends, historical events and battles. Wajhi (c. 1660) was perhaps the first to include the idea of excellence in poetry in the introductory lines of his -mathnavt Qutub Mustari (1600). He emphasizes lucidity, coherence, brevity and its impact on listeners and readers.
Undoubtedly, the approach to literature was mainly that of a craftsman with an eye on its utility, significance, artifice, diction and technique. At this stage, it would not be irrelevant to point out the function and format of art as envisaged more or less in all Asian countries. In fact the motifs, themes and genres are all fixed and the function of the poet – or prose writer – is to show his excellence and ingenuity within the given framework of theme, diction and form. For example, Chinese poetry, Indian music and Japanese painting all have their themes and forms clearly delineated. Genres are defined.
Special vocabularies, idioms and imageries are all neatly fixed. All that the artist was expected to do was to express his genius within this framework. Anonymity was no crime and even the best specimens of all art were anonymously executed according to the set pattern. Urdu poetry was, in this sense, a happy blend of the Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit traditions, at times suggesting Persian models in their details. Shipley’s Dictionary of World Literature observes:
The etymology of the sair, poet, the ‘knower’, points to the religious or magic origin of his art. The standard form of the classical poem was the qasida, whose compass and composition were strictly conventionalized and amatory prelude (nasib) is followed by a journey undertaken to assuage the poet’s love – pains and providing ample opportunities for description of the desert, of the poet’s mount, of certain animals and of hunting. In the end, the poet either acts as the political mouth pieceof his group, indulges in self-glorification, or praises the chieftain to whose tents the perilous journey had been directed. Convivial scenes occur. (*Notes on Arabic Poetry).
Tlie nasib of the qasida developed as a separate genre with mystical, ethical and/or romantic overtones and a rich symbolic idiom. Ranging from 5 to 19 separate couplets united by a rhyme scheme it came to be known as ghazal. Qata was a thematically coherent set of couplets with a single rhyme scheme and rubiii claimed the same coherence within two couplets of specific metres while mathnavi was a coherent narrative of an episode or a scene in couplets in the same metre with different rhymes and marthiya, the elegy composition versified in straight couplets or in the form of three couplet stanzas.
These generic forms were the main links with Arabic and Persian poetics which were amended and enriched by Urdu literature and formed the basis of the critical idiom.
Poetry was mainly judged by its fidelity to the prescribed rhyme-scheme, metric flawlessness and syntactical authenticity.
Bayadh and Tadhkira
The earliest specimen of this critical literature was provided by the bayadh notebooks containing selected couplets of ardent readers or listeners of poetry. These random selections betray a critical pattern. Early bayadhs contain only stray couplets and names of poets but later ones include also a short note on the poet, thus providing the structure of the tadhkiras (selected couplets with short notes on the poets arranged either alphabetically or according to their specific periods). These short notes sometimes contained critical comments and were illustrative of poetic taste. Scores of such tadhkiras were compiled over a long period of two centuries. Their periodization indicates an awareness of literary history, their categorization of poets expresses critical standards, and their comments – though often stylized – show critical judgement.
Among them are the compilations of Mir Taqi Mir, Mir Hasan, Gurdezi, Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi, Qudratullah Shauq, Qudratullah Qasim and Nawab Mustafa Khan Shefta. But before discussing their critical signifiance, two more institutions deserve mention – the musaira and the tutor-pupil tradition.
Dating from the 18th century, the title was reserved for poetic symposia where Persian ghazals written in the same metrical and rhyme scheme used to be recited. Poetic symposia for Urdu ghazals were called murakhta and, later on, musaira came to be used for Urdu ghazal symposia also.
The main components of the musaira are the poets, the listeners (of high literary taste) and the ghazals with common metrical scheme and rhyme. Thus the audience had an occasion to judge how a particular poet used the same rhyme within the same metre with acumen and imagination.
Here a new critical standard was being evolved where creative, correct and imaginative use of words was judged as a criterion of the poetic art. The musairas being public recital, naturally required ready wit, quick imagination and grip over creative use of words – and above all comminicability of thought, emotion, symbols and rapport between the poet and the audience.
The second interrealted institution was that of the poet-tutor relationship, during which new written and unwritten traditions and conventions were set up. Practicaly al important poets had their styles and, in order to perpetuate them, had formulated certain principles mainly guided by the concepts of fasahat (the lucidity arising from the use of appropriate words, with pleasant sounds compatible with other sounds in a manner of conforming to the rules of syntax and grammar) and balaghat (it contains all the qualities of fasahat with an added quality of suggesting in very few words, a whole panorama of feeling). Vocabulary was always under review, and antiquated or unfamiliar words were regularly pruned. Long lists of poetic ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ were drawn up and pupils were advised to abide strictly by them. Among the ‘don’ts’, for instance, was tanafur (unpleasant alliteration of sound in adjacent words), ta’qid (absurdity or lack of communication arising out of either the breaking up of syntactical sequence (or of words) or of lack of adequate expression of meaning), zam (alternative meaning with obscure or vulgar connotations) and susti-e-bandis (lack of crispness and lucidity in expressions).
The tadhkiras mirror the critical temperament nurtured by these two age-old institutions. Mir was the first to classify the various poetic styles in vogue in his times in an epilogue to his tadhkira ending with his own style which called for a cautious and careful blending of colloquial speech with lucidity and sublimity of poetic sensibility. (He systematizes forms of poetic diction such as couplets with one line in Persian and the other in Urdu, or half a line in Persian and the other half in Urdu etc.) Hatim concludes his tadhkira with a short note on the usage of certain words and changes in the poetic idiom of his age, a statement of significance to literary history as well as to criticism. Again, the attempt to categorize certain poets into different periods or to evaluate their poetic worth, as seen in the tadhkiras of Mir Hasan, Qudratullah Qasim and Karimuddin shed some light on the critical standards of the period.
It is undoubtedly difficult to evolve a coherent theory of criticism from the stray reflections scattered in these tadhkiras. Yet art seems to be a reflection or imitation through imagination of the common socio-cultural ethos rather than of individual reality expressed through socially accepted norms and diction. Myth, history, mysticism, ethics and human relationships – mainly romantic – were the accepted themes to be dealt with in approved poetic idiom, and criticism was used to guard these norms jealously through various institutions and their unwritten laws.
By the end of the 18th century, more particularly by the beginning of the 19th century, with the establishment of the Delhi College (1825) and the Fort William College, (1801-3), a new awareness penetrated the literary standards as seen in the editorial notes of Master Ram Chander’s journal Mahibb-i-Hind (1855-56) criticising the ghazals recited in the musairas in Delhi and accentuated them with the 1857 debacle. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s (1817-98) movement for social reform and enlightenment brought about a new consciousness of literature and its close relationship with society. The idea of natural poetry emanated from Sir Syed and was elaborated by Hali (Altaf Husain) in his celebrated preface to his Divan, Muqaddama-i-Ser-o-Sairi (Divan is generally a collection of ghazals arranged alphabetically, rhyme-wise) discarding all stylized conventional poetry and laying emphasis on (i) narrative and descriptive poetry with compactness and coherence and (ii) poetry depicting the natural and ‘real’ emotions and experiences of life and (iii) poetry with a social purpose.
Hali’s Muqaddama-i-Ser-o-Sairi, therefore, marked a turning point in the history of Urdu criticism. Mainly inspired by Milton, his critical theory rested on the concepts of the ‘simple, sensuous and passionate thought.’ · Hali gave his own interpretation to these terms to make them relevant to Urdu poetry and also to his ideas of social reform as embodied in his long poem Musaddas-i-Hali or Mad-do-Jazr-i-Islam (Ebb and Flow of Islam. It is a poem depicting the rise and fall of Muslims).
Hali waged a lone battle against the unreal world of conventionalism and imagination. He champions the cause of this worldliness. Even when he lists imagination as one of the necessary components of all art, he never forgets to advise some clipping of the wings of imagination to guard against hyperbole and unbridled exaggeration, which was deemed to be a cornerstone of poetry in the East for long.
The aesthete Shibli (Shibli, b. 1914} in the course of his voluminous Serul Ajam, a literary history of Persia, developed a critical theory based on the twin concepts of takhay-yul (imagination) and mahakat (depiction of internal feelings motivated by external stimuli). Evidently influenced by Carlyle, Shibli, however does not name imagination as a source of all knowledge. For him, imagination is merely an organizer of all perception into a compact whole. What gives it its artistic value even surpassing the limitations of painting is the power of depiction (Mahakat) which depicts not only the real but also the inner feelings and emotions in a manner not possible in any other art form.
In 1874, under the inspiration of Colonel Holroyd in Lahore, Anjuman-i-Punjab (an organisation mainly devoted to the preparation of Urdu textbooks) held a different type of musaira where themes and topics instead of rhyme and metre were circulated among poets who were asked to write compact and coherent poems on them. This marked the birth of a new genre nazm (a compact poetic composition with a single theme unlike the couplets of ghazal which are not necessarily of the same theme) in Urdu. The organizer of the musaira was Muhammad Husain Azad (1832- 1910), who blossomed into an epoch-making critic and literary historian of all time. Though primarily an essayist with a remarkable literary style of his own, his Ab-i-Hayat (Fountain of Eternity) was not only the first authentic history of Urdu poetry but also a gallery of sketches of immortal poets with an unmistakable aroma of their cultural and social milieu. His assessment of poets expressed in metaphorical and allegorical terms, though often ruthlessly criticized, has seldom been improved upon.
Azad in his preface to his poetic collection Majmua Nazm-i-Azad (Collection of Azad’s Poems, 1885) has laid great emphasis on faithful depiction of reality and criticized the excessive use of metaphor and hyperbole in Urdu poetry, which, according to him, robs it of natural realism.
To drive the point home, Azad compares the depiction of the same scenes in Brij Bhasha and Urdu and remarks that in Urdu the poet readily takes to similes and metaphors and ignores the depiction of the reality and its components along with their material details.
Thus the golden period of Urdu criticism was dedicated to this worldliness. The main endeavour of the critics was to bring poetry back to the contemporary sensibility and to make it socially purposive. The need, perhaps, arose due to the bifurcation, for the first time, between the individual and the social ethos which were up till now somewhat unified. The middle class was being born and it wanted to be sure of its own realities and its separate sensibility. The ‘Trans-Individual’ of Lucien Goldmann was increasingly succumbing to the responses of the newly emerging middleclass.
The impact was truly epoch-making. Hosts of writers and poets emerged as harbingers of the new consciousness. Without the trio of Hali, Shibli and Azad, there would not have been poets like Iqbal. Chakbast and Akbar Allahabadi and prose writers like Nazir Ahmad, Ratan Nath Sarshar, Abdul Halim Sharar and Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa. The First World War marked the high watermark of this critical consciousness, for it was in 1914 that both Hali and Shibli breathed their last.
Romanticists and Comparatists
By the turn of the 19th century, writers and critics had taken to romanticism. Criticism, too, echoed the same voice and soon afterwards critics like Sajjad Ansari and Abdur Rahman Bijnori and Niaz Fatehpuri emerged as pioneers of the new mood. Sajjad Ansari was primarily an essayist with aesthetics as his religion but his critical opinions did carry weight with his contemporaries.
Abdur Rahman Bijnori shot into prominence with his incomplete preface to a new version of Ghalib’s Divan most of which was rejected by the poet and was hence lying in a corner of a Bhopal Library. Bijnori began his preface with the astounding sentence: “There are only two divine books of India – the Holy Vedas and Ghalib’s Divan”. Here was a brand new voice of criticism, full of the zest of a vibrant personality. Criticism to him was no mere assessment of a poet’s effusions in terms of his personality and his age or in terms of the criteria accepted as genuine or valid but a rediscovery, even reshaping, of these experiences by the critic himself and representing it as a wonderland of his own sensibilities.
In the course of this voyage of Ghalib’s discovery, Bijnori cuts across the boundaries of region and language and endeavours to study Ghalib in the light provided by the study of great masters like Goethe, Rembrandt and Hafiz, thus providing a new basis for comparative criticism in Urdu. While Bijnori’s critical opinions were not without exaggeration, yet, his pioneering efforts in introducing world standards in Urdu literary evaluations and his attempts at the popularization of standards of comparative criticism deserve recognition. With him, western critical standards assumed new creative dimensions.
Niyaz Fatehpuri, on the other hand, was a thorough orientalist, born and bred in the traditions of Persian and Arabic poetics, though he got himself acquainted with modern western norms. Niyaz, in fact, introduced romanticism in Urdu fiction and started highly sentimental poetic-prose but in the field of criticism, he was a thorough classicist who insisted on the strict observance of all norms of the olden times. His preference of the love-lyricist, Momin (Momin, 1800-52), over Ghalib (Ghalib, 1796-1869), because the classical definition of ghazal was restricted to that of a love-lyric, or his preference of Ali Akhtar (Ali Akhtar, 1899-1972) over the famous poet Josh Malihabadi (Josh Malihabadi, b. 1896), or his trenchent critique of Jigar Moradabadi’s ghazals (Jigar Moradabadi, 1890-1961), to which he devoted a special number of his literary monthly Nigar – all point to his adherence to the norms of classical formalism.
Textual Criticism and Literary History
But at this stage, two new trends appeared on the literary scene – emergence of textual criticism and the compilation of literary history. Even today, literary texts in Urdu lie buried in oblivion, and those which are known to some extent need proper editing to be made available in their authentic form. Abdul Haq (1872-1960) and Mohiuddin Qadri Zor (Muhiuddin Qadri Zor, 1904-1964) discovered a number of highly valuable literary texts and published them with learned introductions, though not always edited properly. The work was improved upon by eminent researchers like Hafiz Mahmud Shirani (1942), Masud Hasan Ridhvi (1893-1975), Imtiaz Ali Arshi (b. 1895), and Qazi Abdul Waddud (1895-1984).
Their efforts and discoveries – particularly those of the first two scholars – pertaining to the literary works written in Deccan in the 15th and 16th centuries extended the period of literary fruition of the Urdu language by several centuries. It was in this period that literary history was conceived as a total view of all literary genres and presented as a continuum of the social and cultural ethos of a nation. Up till now, poetry alone was taken into consideration but Ram Babu Saxena’s History of Urdu Literature (1927) for the first time surveyed the whole span of language and literature as one unit and, even though cursorily, did make an attempt to study literature in its totality. The book, originally written in English, was later translated into Urdu (Tarikh-i-Adab-i-Urdu) by Mirza Muhammad Askari.
By this time, the rhetoricians and formalists came into vogue while parallel to them another trend of critical liberalism which drew upon the western and oriental canons of criticism also continued to flourish. Yet, the most significant critical writing of the period was the despatches of Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa, who tried to discuss the theoretical aspect of literary criticism in the light of Avicenna’s anatomical theories and tried to connect literary taste with the physiological vitae of human beings.
Another major development was marked by the publication of Masud Hasan Ridhvi’s Hamari Sairi (Our Poetry, 1926) which tried to reinterpret the scope and significance of the seemingly narrow field of love-lyric poetry of ghazal. He explained the multi-dimensional symbolism of ghazal and in the process, sought to review the critical standards set by Hali in his celebrated Preface to his Urdu Divan the concepts of the ‘Simple, the Sensuous, and the Passionate’.
The critical writings of creative writers like Firaq Gorakhpuri (1896-1982), Rashid Ahmad Siddiqi (1898-1976) the former a lyrical poet and the latter a renowned satirist and humorist – gave criticism an enlivening touch of impressionism. For them every critical reappraisal was, in fact, the re-creation (by the artistic sensibility) of an intelligent reader out of the original poet’s works. And in this process,literary taste, the readers’ own experience and sensibility rather than the set norms and standards of the law-makers provide a dependable guide.
The new criticism has by now found its moorings in the English-educated middle class which was seeking to reinterpret and enjoy Urdu literature according to the enlightenment provided by western education. This ‘rationalization’ of their literary taste was different not only from the classical norms but also from Hali and Shibli, which gave rise to critical liberalism and a new kind of personalized critical essays.
Progressives and Radicals
Towards the end of the twenties, the struggle for national independence assumed a new urgency while the emergence of Fascism and various forms of authoritarianism and the struggles against them brought about radical changes in the contemporary sensibility. In 1936, it culminated in the setting up of the Progressive Writers’ Association, the first session of which was held in Lucknow under the presidentship of Munshi Premchand (1880-1936). In his presidential address, he unequivocally declared the need of ‘bringing about a change in our sense of Beauty’.
In Urdu, this change was marked in the critical articles of Akhtar Husain Raipuri (b. 1910), Ahmad Ali (b. 1912), now in Pakistan, and, much more authentically, in Majnu Gorakhpuri’s (b. 1904) Adab Aur Zindagi (Literature and Life). The first two critics went to the extent of castigating all classical literature as ‘feudal’ and hence decadent and elitist in character, thus judging literature by its class roots and the ‘ideology’ it communicates. Ideas were mainly discussed in terms of their social implications and literary judgement was subjected to class considerations. Majnu and, after him, the celebrated Progressive critic, Syed Ehtesham Husain (1912-72) applied these standards provided by the understanding of the relationship between literature and society in a more scientific manner. For them, what was important was the working of the social process as reflected and influenced by the work of art.
This was not a mechanical relationship but the expression of not only the individual but also the ‘trans-individual’ and the collective ethos of the age. This resounds in that particular age and also in the times to come till the social structure keeps these values alive.
For about three decades, Progressivism remained the dominant critical theory and gave birth to writers like Sajjad Zaheer (1905-76), the founder of the movement, Sardar Jafri (b. 1913), Mumtaz Husain (b. 1924) now in Pakistan and others, with three tangible gains. Firstly, it linked up literary criticism with a wider and much more scientific understanding of social life and hence with all branches of knowledge with direct and indirect bearing. The critic was much more wide-awake and brought to bear new tools of analysis on critical assessment, which appeared to be breaking its morbid links with metaphysics.
Secondly, new respectability was gained by folk literature and folk artists. In Urdu, for instance, Nazir Akbarabadi (1735-1830), the folk poet who sang of mundane everyday objects, was rediscovered by literary critics as the harbinger of the democratic urges of the people. Thirdly, new insight ‘was brought to bear upon the voice of social protest as manifested in classical literature, particularly in the medieval mystic poetry, and in the process sought to delve deep into the social roots of the creative process and its impact on contemporary sensibility. Progressive Criticism has often been deemed a monolith. Its critics have been taken to hold the same approach. In fact, it ranges from critics of sociological bias to those with a clear Marxist sense of class-analysis. Now, when many more variations in the Marxist understanding of literature at the international level have emerged ranging from Caudwel and Ralph Fox to George Lukacs, Bertold Brecht, Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton, these finer shades of criticism can also be identified in Urdu.
Eclectics and Liberals
Side by side with Marxist and sociological criticism, there ran a parallel thread of non-Marxist, rather eclectic criticism mainly inspired by F. R. Leavis and T. S. Eliot, and to a lesser extent, by the ideas of the French Decadents. Kalimuddin Ahmad, with his rigid application of the definition of poetry as a well-integrated composition of thought and emotions giving aesthetic delight through its sense of unity, sought to introduce a new concept of Form in Urdu criticism. Al-i-Ahmad Suroor (b. 1911) with his radiant eclecticism gave a wider awareness while Muhammad Hasan Askari (1914-78), who later migrated to Pakistan, tried to lend a touch of metaphysics to the critical concepts.
Later, another revival of the New Criticism attracted attention around 1960 which gave primacy to the formal analysis of the text, advocating the abandonment of all sociological considerations from the critical orbit; it adversely affects artistic appreciation of a piece of art. Under the banner of modernity, many trends saw the light of day ranging from close text analysis and stylistics to the crisis of communication and ways and means to overcome it. Symbolism and use of esoteric terms came into vogue. The ‘New’ critics, however, are yet to make their mark.
It will be proper to mention the development of Urdu criticism in Pakistan, for this has affected the pace of Urdu criticism in India. Soon after Partition, Progressivism was tabooed in Pakistan and in their zeal for finding a new critical idiom to suit the political search for an identity in religion, some Pakistani critics started over-emphasizing the role of religion and metaphysics in critical understanding. Among them were Askari followed by younger critics like Salim Ahmad (b. 1944) and Fateh Mohammad Malik (b. 1936), Jilani Kamran (b. 1944) and others. They tried to link up literature with the religious ethos of a nation. Another set of writers tried to introduce archetypal criticism in Urdu. Vazir Agha (b. 1940) in his Urdu Sairi Ka Mizaj (Temperament of Urdu Poetry) tried to analyse Urdu poetry in the context of the Aryan archetype and the Chinese theory of its development. Other rigidly formalist critics include Iftekhar Jalib (b. 1938) while the more balanced critics who blend literary standards with the tools provided by psychology and sociology include Salim Akhtar (b. 1940), Mohammad Ali Siddiqi (b. 1938), now in Pakistan, and Jamil Jalibi (b. 1928). But this formal trend in Pakistan has affected its counterpart in India too.
Urdu is probably the only literary tradition in India which entirely based itself on the concepts and methodology of Sanskrit poetics but has insisted on developing its own critical standards. In this respect, its classical criticism needs special attention for it tried to combine the essentials of the indigenous sensibility with the canons of Oriental criticism as prevalent in West and Central Asia – a tradition not wholly alien to the Indian genius. Certainly, it is difficult to name one or two treatises which may be deemed as source books of all such critical concepts, yet the development of these concepts did take place.
It should be noted that Arabic translations of the works of Plato and Aristotle did play an important role in acquainting the world with the thoughts of these highly significant thinkers and these thoughts included the formulations of critical import. The translations, however, were not always very faithful to the originals but the idea of mimesis (imitation – reproduction/representation) did appeal to the Arab mind and through it to the Persians, Turks and others in West and Central Asia. Thus the genesis was that the poet presents the ‘soul’ of the material object and the beauty of the work of art evokes kindred response in the heart of the listener or reader because of the aesthetic affinity found in the material objects (of its representation) and the listener or reader. Both are united in the ‘divine’ power of imagination, which magnifies, or belittles things and objects, creates new relationships between them and refashions them into new units.
This left a respectable margin for the hyperbole and the ‘artistic’ use of exaggeration which was a prerogative of the creative writer. This developed into a highly stylised jargon, detracting poetry – and prose – from faithful depiction with exactitude and precision.
But poetry soon developed to become such an integral part of social life that no lively conversation or communication was possible without an apt poetic quotation. The musaira gave this convention a greater social cohesion and communicability and the tradition of poet-tutor-poet-studentship established it as a continuum. This resulted in focussing attention on form, rhythm and rhyme, and above all, on the lucidity and standardization of language. At least two critical terms – Ada bandi and Sahl-i-Mumtina- were based on the simple colloquial idiom of everyday speech. Ada bandi concentrated on versifying the common everyday action or mood in such couplets as the following:
Gar naznin kahe se bura mante ho tum
Meri taraf to dekhiye main niiznin sahi
If you resent to be addressed as a delicate beauty,
Just look at me, you may call me one. (tr.)
Ap ke paon ke niche dil hai
Ek zara ap ko zahmat hogi
My heart is beneath your heel.
Take a trifle trouble, So that I may take it out. (tr.)
Sahl-i-Mumtina was the art of versifying in the simplest words so as to retain the prose order in its original form, as in the following couplets of Ghalib and Momin:
Dil-e-nadan tujhe hua kya hai
Akhir is dard ki dawa kya hai
My heart, what ails you?
What is, after all, the cure of your ailment.? (Ghalib)
Tum mere pas hote ho gaya
Jab koi dusra nahin hota.
You remain with me
When no one is. (Momin)
This strong bond of critical sensibility with social communicability remains one of the distinguishing features of Urdu criticism. Even in prose tales, which in the early phases had been associated with the tradition of diistiina long extempore prose tale narrated to an audience-social communicability was then a criterion along with purity and lucidity of language and catholicity of expression.
With the advent of the British, western influences began to play a major role in determining the critical mood, but despite all pervasiveness, these could not supplant the longing for the ghazal and the retention of a significant segment of the classical critical idiom essential for the evaluation of the genre. Hence, Urdu criticism retains its classical base, at least to a certain extent, even today, though it has, by and large, accepted western criticism as its model.
With the advent of Independence, regional languages and their literatures came into prominence. Awareness of the various genres popular in these regional literatures and the tools of criticism in vogue for their assessment also grew. Urdu criticism also benefited from this awareness and modem sensibility, has fallen in line with the general mood of various other literatures, facing the same stresses and strains which happen to be the predicament of the modem world and its literary consciousness.
1. Ahmad, Kalimuddin, Urdu Tanqid Par Ek Nazar, Patna, 1944.
2. Ahmad, Mumtaz, Urdu Su’ara Mein Tanqidi Daur, Patna, 1963.
3. Husain, Ehtesham, Tanqidi Nazariyat (2 vols.), Lucknow, 1956.
4. Masihuzzaman, Urdu Tanqid Ki Tarikh, Allahabad, 1952.
5. Rahman, Abdur, Miratus Ser, 2nd ed., Lucknow, 1978.
1. Nagendra (ed.), ‘Urdu Criticism’ in Literary Criticism in India,1976.
2. Qadir, Abdul, Modern Urdu Literature, Lahore, 1940.
3. Sadiq, Mohammad, A Short History of Urdu Literature; Oxford,1964.·
4. The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. V, Ramakrishna Mission, Calcutta, 1979 (article on Urdu criticism).