16 April 2010

Kashmiri literature

Here's a challenge for young Indian literary critics looking for a niche for themselves.  Study the way languages interact with each other to create new literary frontiers in Kashmiri writing.  This was the situation in 1911 as painted by the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

"Kashmiri possesses a somewhat extensive literature, which has been very little studied. The missionary William Carey published in 1821 a version of the New Testament (in the Sarada character), which was the first book published in the language. In 1885 the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles published at Bombay a collection of Kashmiri proverbs and sayings, and K. F. Burkhard in 1895 published an edition of Mahmud Gami's poem on Yusuf and Zulaikha. This, with the exception of later translations of the Scriptures in the Persian character and a few minor works, is all the literature that has been printed or about which anything has been written. Mahmud Gami's poem is valuable as an example of the Kashmiri used by Mussulmans."

How has multilingual literary criticism progressed in India since 1911?  T. N. Kaul gives an update for the Kashmiri Overseas Association, but the situation does not look much better than it did in 1911.  The description remains on the level of mere description, not of analysis.  We still need serious literary analysis of Kashmiri works based on the mixing of languages.

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