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Ghalib's letters

MIRZA GHALIB AND THE MIRS OF GUJARAT: Mir Jaffar Imam; Rupa and Co., 7/16, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002.

Rs. 695.

EVEN THOUGH the growth of Urdu literature in India is generally attributed to the North, the fact is that this language, especially in its nascent years, flourished even more visibly in the Deccan and in Gujarat.

Since its inception, Urdu poetry always encouraged an intimate and long-lasting relationship in which the new aspiring poets learnt from their master the art of writing.

So intense was the eagerness of every new poet for widespread recognition that even kings, who looked for literary fame, sought the guidance of some distinguished poet. No wonder that the Mirs, whose ancestors came from Seshwan in U.P., also followed the same literary tradition.

Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869), the most celebrated Urdu poet, is also recognised as a gifted letter writer. In fact, it is in his letters that he portrays the spirit of his age, its political, social and cultural facets, particularly the events following the great Mutiny of 1857.

The book under review establishes a linkage between Ghalib and the Mirs of Gujarat who constituted an extended lineage of Mir Sarfaraz Ali Khan Seshwani and his descendents.

The letters Ghalib wrote to his favourite pupil, Dad Khan Sayyah, his patron, Mir Gulam Baba, and other members of the Mir family, reveal his love and esteem for this illustrious family. It may be mentioned here that most of these letters now occupy a prestigious place in "Urdu-e-Mualla," a comprehensive compilation of Ghalib's letters.

Whereas Mir Jaffar Imam, son of Nawab Mir Khwaja Kutbuddin, ruler of Kamadhia, has highlighted his family's history, particularly its love of knowledge, D. C. Kanda has translated some letters included in this book, with competence.

The book also carries copious illustrations in the form of photographs and paintings, which enhance the readability of the basic narrative.

ALI ASGHAR

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