Author: Ralph Russell
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195647491
This collection of essays will appeal to anyone interested in Urdu and its evolving destiny on the Indian subcontinent.
Ralph Russell is one of the foremost western scholars of Urdu literature whose writings and translations have made Urdu accessible to readers with no knowledge of the language. This volume brings together several of his essays published in a wide range of periodicals and books over the last thirty years, as well as some previously unpublished pieces.
The book contains two kinds of essays: reflections on Urdu literature and the people and organizations which have been concerned with promoting it, and what might be called ethnographic pieces on Islam in South Asia, with comments on trends in Islam.
The more purely literary essays touch on topics like the Urdu ghazal, the Progressive Writers' Movement and the current status and prospects of the language.
Russell's impressions of life in towns and villages of Pakistan make clear the spirit in which he approached his life's work, and provide the background to his more formal articles on Islam. For him, the desire to communicate fully with native-speakers is the only satisfactory basis for fruitful study of a language which for two centuries has been one of the major literary vehicles of the subcontinent. The image of Islam he creates is a valuable antidote to the lies and half-truths which are increasingly current.