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Sunday, September 09, 2007

sarwat ali, ammar mir and qurratul ain haider

By Sarwat Ali

'The Colour of Nothingness'
, a selection of modern Urdu Short Stories, edited and translated by Umar Memon -- reprinted in 2006 -- is quite simply the stories he personally enjoyed reading. "I can offer no better criteria for their inclusion than my own passion and prejudice", he wrote in the introduction. But of course he had a larger purpose in mind as well, manifestly, to present the texture and flavour of the modern Urdu Short story, both as daring experiment and a more refined heir to traditional fiction.

Impressions from the partition
- Ammar Mir (review of Shameful Flight By Stanley Wolpert)

Wolpert reserves his singular contempt for the last Viceroy of India, Lord Louis 'Dickie' Mountbatten. Wolpert paints Mountbatten as conceited and vain, who viewed India as an unnecessary burden on the British Empire. This latter view is reinforced by evidence of successive blunders Mountbatten committed. Given a duty he was ill-equipped to handle, a subcontinent he had little or no understanding of, the Viceroy allowed his desire for personal glory to replace his common sense. Cutting the allotted time for Partition in half, Mountbatten stuck to his mantra that "speed is of the essence". Bengal's Secretary J.D. Tyson is quoted as saying "ever since he came out he has pursued shock tactics...The India of 'after August 15th' will not be the kind of country I should want to live in." One wonders why what was so evident to so many, was blatantly ignored by the man in charge. Wolpert is of course, more than willing to explain.

Remembering Qurratulain Hyder
(no credit mentioned for the writer)

However, I personally admire her as a translator. Years ago, I read her impressive Urdu translation of TS Eliot's play 'Murder in the Cathedral' believing that a better translation of the play was impossible. Likewise, her translation of Henry James' 'Portrait of a Lady' is a masterpiece. Her travelogues and reportages, too, are a specimen of literary excellence.

[link for all three in the heading]


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