The Nightingale of Future’s Garden

The great 19th century Urdu poet Asadullah Khan Ghalib’s muravvaj or current Divan contains roughly half of the verses he composed, as he was an exacting editor of his own compositions. Ghalib was a zealous critic of his own poetry; sometimes he took criticism of his peers to heart. Much of the mustarad or discarded work belongs to his early period when his poetic language was closer to Persian than Urdu, and his themes were quite abstruse. Ghalib’s early work was almost forgotten until a manuscript surfaced in Bhopal in 1918.  This manuscript known as the nuskha-e Bhopal is dated 1821.  It was first published as Nuskha-e Hamidiyya in 1921. Much later, in 1969, a manuscript in Ghalib’s own hand was discovered, again, in Bhopal. It contained some of his earliest compositions (1816). Despite the unearthing of the new material Ghalib scholars continue to focus on the muravvaj Divan. The talk presented an overview of the so called discarded ghazals and pose questions examining the exigencies of “rejection” and how that impacts our view of Ghalib as a whole. 

Mehr Afshan Farooqi is Associate Professor of Urdu and South Asian Literature at the University of Virginia.  Her research publications address complex issues of Urdu literary culture particularly in the context of modernity.  Farooqi is also a well-known translator, anthologist and columnist. She is presently working on a project that highlights the great Urdu poet Ghalib’s mustarad (rejected) verses.

She is the editor of the pioneering two-volume work, The Oxford India Anthology of Modern Urdu Literature (2008).  More recently she has published the acclaimed monograph, The Postcolonial Mind, Urdu Culture, Islam and Modernity in Muhammad Hasan Askari (2013).

Geeta Patel is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia. A Visiting Fellow at the CSDS, she has translated widely from prose and poetry composed in Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi, Braj and Awadhi and is currently writing a book on Ismat Chughtai.

Her first book, Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings: Gender, Colonialism and Desire in Miraji’s Urdu Poetry (2002) focuses on the renegade Urdu writer, poet, critic and iconoclast Miraji, who writes at the cusp of modernism and mysticism.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014, 5:30 pm
CSDS Seminar Hall