A Historical Overview
Nadeem Shah
GLIMPSES OF URDU LITERATURE: SELECT WRITINGS by Zahida Zaidi Promilla and co. , Delhi, 2011, 280 pp., 550
March 2011, volume 35, No 3

Zahida Zaidi says that she has not attempted a work on the history of Urdu literature in this endeavour. Notwithstanding, I would argue that she has subconsciously ended up providing a very fine outline of the same in the course of writing this book. The treatment of Urdu poetry in the book is exhaustive and comprehensive. Indeed the opening chapter of the book, Secular and Humanist Traditions of Urdu Poetry, discusses the evolution of Urdu poetry in detail with a view to tracing the emergence and growing refinement of the different genres and themes of Urdu poetry masnavis, ghazals and marsiyah. As for themes and personal inclinations of eminent Urdu poets, she has chosen some of the finest representative poets of the different times and sensibilities ranging from the likes of Mir Taqi Mir, Nazeer Akbarabadi, Mir Anis to Hali, Josh and Firaq and woven a fine historical outline of Urdu poetry through centuries.

The author has evaluated Ghalibs ghazals in an unique freshness. It requires more than ordinary scholarship to describe or interpret Ghalibs complex idiom and his diverse imageries. Zahida has dealt with the multidimensionality and a broad emotional range of Ghalibs poetry. She has articulated the profound and philosophical aspects of Ghalibs personality and the social and moral landscape around him to understand the resultant universal appeal that his poetry came to acquire.

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