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This book contains selections from Ghalib (1797-1869), the most famous Urdu poet of the nineteenth century, and widely regarded as the greatest Urdu poet till now. Ghalib was highly individualistic by temperament, and though he looked up to the long past Persian masters, he was destined by character to defy tradition, which he did both in metaphysical and romantic poetry. All Urdu poets were grounded in mysticism, but Ghalib was a sceptic, having pantheism for his matrix. A believer at the conscious level, the doubt that he expressed in poetry created the tension which led to dramatized presentation in a lyrical format. His turn of phrase contributed to philosophical vocabulary in Urdu. On the romantic side, his assertiveness struck a more responsive word than the abject submission to the beloved dictated by tradition.
The present book does not aim to be merely a handy selection. The "Dewan-i-Ghalib" in common circulation is actually a selection made by the poet's friends. The present selection also includes verses uncritically discarded, and excludes verses uncritically selected, the gem of his poetry being cut anew, so that Ghalib's poetry can be seen in a new light and his stylistic evolution can be more confidently charted, in a format doubly attractive to students.
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Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi has an MA and PhD from the University of Karachi. He is critic of Urdu literature and regularly contributes to a leading daily, Dawn Karachi. He has taught for more than thirty years in different colleges, and at the University of Karachi, the Aga Khan University and M.A. Jinnah University in Karachi. He is the author of Liaquat Ali Khan: His Life and Work (OUP 2003) and has edited the Jinnah-Liaquat Correspondence (PSC 2003) and M.A. Jinnah: Views and Reviews (OUP 2005).
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