The mere mention of the name Faiz Ahmed Faiz evokes a warm adulation, as much in the highbrow scholarly critic as in the mind of the common reader, not restricted to the Urdu world. Faiz became in fact a legendry figure in his own life time, an icon to reckon with. When Sheema Majeed, in her “Editor’s Note” in the book, Culture and Identity, refers to him as a “metaphor of his age”, she directs one’s attention to the gradual unfolding of different aspects of the spirit of the times presented in Faiz’s English writings. What she has compiled in this book arouses the attention of all, readers in Urdu as well as those who can read Faiz only in English. Several attempts have been made to transport the vibrant poems by Faiz into English, some fairly successful and others mere experiments in translating great poetry. But, what we get in this book for the first time is Faiz’s original writing in English, his insights, reflections and random thoughts on ‘culture’, ‘identity’, ‘Pakistan’, ‘Urdu and linguistic identity and literary heritage of Pakistan’ and amongst many other themes, he also dwells on some individual poets and writers such as Amir Khusrou, Ghalib and his favourite Mohammad Iqbal.
May 2006, volume 30, No 5