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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Another spotlight on memoirs by Khaled Ahmed

Khaled Ahmed Pasnawisht aur Pas-e-Pasnawisht
By Prof Dr Pervez Perwazi; Naya Zamana
Publications Lahore 2007;
Pp640; Price Rs 600

This book is some kind of a treasury of memoirs. It is incredible how Prof Perwazi is able to track down anything smelling of autobiography. He is tough on people with inflated egos, but kind to people honestly writing impious truths

Prof Perwazi has read almost all the Urdu memoirs ever written and is something of an expert on what memoirs ought to be judged on the touchstone of classics written in Western literature. Autobiography is an act of ego. You write it because you want to write about yourself, which means you think you are worth writing about. Whose self is worth writing? Someone who has done great deeds or was witness to great deeds done by others. Yet, a memoir is irreducibly an act of justificatory egoism. And Prof Perwazi is a deflationary treasurer of the egos that get flaunted in books. He is in fertile ground because autobiography has always been the most popular genre in non-fiction.


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