25 August 2010

Book announcement

Edited by Francesca Orsini, Orient Blackswan, 2010, viii, 312 p, ISBN : 81-250-3829-0

Before the Divide : Hindi and Urdu Literary Culture/edited by Francesca OrsiniContents: Acknowledgements. 1. Introduction/Francesca Orsini. 2. Rekhta : poetry in mixed language: The emergence of Khari Boli literature in North India/Imre Bangha. 3. Riti and register: lexical variation in courtly Braj Bhasha texts/Allison Busch. 4. Dialogism in a medieval genre: the case of the Avadhi epics/Thomas De Bruijn. 5. Barahmasas in Hindi and Urdu/Francesca Orsini. 6. Sadarang, Adarang, Sabrang: Multi-coloured poetry in Hindustani music/Lalita Du Perron. 7. Looking beyond Gul-o-Bulbul: observations on Marsiyas by Fazli and Sauda/Christina Oesterheld. 8. Changing literary patterns in Eighteenth century North India: Quranic translations and the development of Urdu prose/Mehr Afshan Farooqi. 9. Networks, patrons, and genres for Late Braj Bhasha Poets: Ratnakar and Hariaudh/Valerie Ritter. Contributors. Bibliography. Index.

"Based on a workshop on 'Intermediary Genres in Hindi and Urdu', Before the Divide: Hindi and Urdu Literary Culture is an attempt to rethink aspects of the literary histories of these two languages.

"Today, Hindi and Urdu are considered two separate languages, each with its own script, history, literary canon and cultural orientation. Yet, precolonial India was a deeply multilingual society with multiple traditions of knowledge and of literary production. Historically the divisions between Hindi and Urdu were not as sharp as we imagine them today. The essays in this volume reassess the definition and identity of language in the light of this. Various literary traditions have been examined keeping the historical, political and cultural developments in mind. The authors look at familiar and not so familiar Hindi and Urdu literary works and narratives and address logics of exclusion and inclusion that have gone into the creation of two separate languages (Hindi and Urdu) and the making of the literary canons of each. Issues of script, religious identity, gender are also considered.

"This volume is different in that it provides a new body of evidence and new categories that are needed to envisage the literary landscape of North India before the construction of separate 'Hindu-Hindi' and 'Muslim-Urdu' literary traditions.

"This collection of essays looking into the rearticulation of language and its identity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will be useful for students of modern Indian history, language studies and cultural studies."

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