M Abul Fazl

  • TJason and his Argonauts, on their way to get the Golden Fleece, chanced upon the island of Lemnos, where the women “maddened by jealousy, had slain all their men folk, and, now vainly repentant, hailed the newcomers as husbands for their defenceless need.” Quite a problem there. ...

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  • T“Le Flot fut attentif, et la voix qui mest chere“Laissa tomber ces mots:-----“Laissez – nous savourer les rapides delices “Des plus beaux de nos jours.”–(Lamartine) (The waves were listening, and the voice which is dear to me, let fall these ...

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  • TI had never imagined I could be so moved by just four words, written with a ballpoint pen, on the blank space of a book’s first page. The inscription was simple: “For Abba, Love Biddo.” Above them, is the book’s name in print: “Eurocentrism”. I used to be very ...

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  • TPhysicist speculates that “there will be different histories for different possible states of the universe at the present time.” Why not? But that could be true at an ordinary level too. Each experience may be part of a different history at another level, depending upon the level it is ...

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  • TThe British historian of French literature, L. Cazamian, says about Moliere that his “conception of upright womanwood is in touch with this ideal”, i.e. faith in essential worth of human instincts implies a generous spirit in which heartlessness of satire has no place (“A History ...

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  • TYesterday, on the roadside, I was startled to see a billboard carrying Elizabeth Browning’s line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”, in bold letters. It transpired that it was an advertisement for some commodity or other.I recalled that, long ago, I happened to mention ...

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  • TMahvish Ahmad says about the use of the word “revolution” by Tahirul Qadiri and his crowd “perhaps they had an unrevolutionary definition of revolution” (An English daily, January 19, 2013, p.3.). They are not the only ones. Pakistanis are generally relaxed about the use of ...

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  • TAnyone, one supposes, can write about anyone. But one must be an exceptionally good writer to create a portrait. Thus, I found Khushwant Singh’s “Women and Men in My Life” (1995) extremely interesting.There is one Devyani Chaubal, a film critic. According to Khushwant, she ...

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  • TPamila Nightingale says: “Haider Ali, the Mysorean leader, was an upstart adventurer, who had displaced the old royal house and with ruthless ability sought to extend his power over southern India” (Trade and Empire in Western India 1783-1806, Cambridge University Press, 1970).So the ...

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  • TAshfaq Saleem Mirza says there are two major martyrs in South Asia, Bhagat Singh and Hassan Nasir. They gave their lives fighting against tyrannical rulers. “But their sacrifices could not bring any major changes in the socio-economic lives of the people of the subcontinent” ...

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  • T Iqbal was of the opinion that poetry should be translated into another language only in prose. This, I suppose, is the most sensible suggestion. In reading poetry, one feels before one understands. For example:It is so deeply moving in Urdu. But when I translated it for an Arab and, later, for a ...

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  • TDr Samuel Johnson worked for a bookseller, Osborne, who had bought the Earl of Oxford’s library for Pounds 13,000 in 1743. Johnson’s job was to prepare a catalogue of the newly-acquired books, which was a “painful drudgery”, according to his friends. However to relieve the ...

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  • TWhy should I want to hide it? I like Paul Verlaine. He is a good poet. He does not complicate things and says what he feels with unmatched lyricism. His accent is soft, almost a whisper. Among the great poets, only Rimbaud comes near him in these qualities. “Et dans les longs pils de son ...

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  • TI looked long for Zaheer Dehlavi’s Dastan-e-Ghadar, as it had been mentioned by a number of writers as an accurate account of the impact of our First War of Independence on Delhi. But it was only about a month back that I found a copy from its 2009 edition. The somewhat archaic language is ...

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  • TGhalib is prepared to compromise:“Naheen nigar ko ulfat na ho, nigar tau hai, Ravani-e-ravish-o-masti-e-ada kahye.”That means going as far as the other wants to. Not to push things. But this could have an opposite reaction:“Soupçonnés tu le ...

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  • TIt is quite incredible how lightly portentous decisions were taken.” This is how General Khadim Husain Raja, GOC commanding, Dhaka, comments on the conduct of the military leadership in Islamabad, which governed Pakistan and was managing the affairs of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during ...

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  • TThe renowned French sociologist, Raymond Aaron, proved, at least to his own satisfaction, that classes had ceased to exist in the modern advanced societies due to the high degree of social mobility. He also denied the existence of capitalism, asking how could one speak of capitalism today, when, at ...

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  • T Poetry had been there from time immemorial. It had adapted itself to the new trends in every period, including that of the British occupation and the inevitable ascendance of the English language. However, the process of the evolution of our prose has been slower and more difficult. One ...

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  • TThe AFP reports that “the rate of suicide among the women in India was three times higher than in high-income countries, but tapered off among women who were either divorced, widowed or separated from their husbands” (June 23, 2012).The report goes on: “Obviously, the most ...

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  • TOne can be a good poet and a bad revolutionary. Or a poor one. In my college days, long, long ago, our history teacher did not take the French revolution of 1848 seriously. Maybe, he thought that a political upheaval which ends with Louis Napoleon on the throne cannot be much of a revolution. (It ...

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  • T The teacher, explaining the French Revolution to a junior class, simplifies it. Two writers, Voltaire and Rousseau, wrote books about the absence of freedom and democracy in France. People read these books and made a revolution.Or the Industrial Revolution. A boy was sitting near his mother, who ...

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  • TThe literatures of small countries seem unable to rise above the size of their birthplaces. When we speak of classical literature, we think of Russia and France, of England and Germany.Albania, which still has only about a million inhabitants, is nowhere, although, under socialism, it did give ...

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  • T Sibte Hassan begins his encompassing criticism of Professor Askari with “Professor Mohammad Hasan Askari was a distinguished writer of Urdu” and then traces his “deterioration” into metaphysics, ending up with Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi and his Bahishti Zewar.Well. Why not? ...

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  • T Getting rid of old papers can be tiring. I was going through a pile of notebooks. There were old drafts - drafts of short articles, of long articles, occasionally reminiscences. Mon Dieu (my God in French), how demanding it is. But not always! One comes across a piece written long ago, now covered ...

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  • T It appears the conditions of a pastoral economy are the most conducive to the blossoming of love. That is why many of our greatest stories of love belong to either the age of the pastoral mode of production or to a pastoral milieu in a later period.Carnal love is about procreation. But does it ...

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  • T Agha Nasir, in his book on the Pakistani television (“This is PTV”, Published by PTV, 2011), relates that Nasir Kazmi often talked to him of his great desire to do a television programme, Raat kay Log. It was to be about bandits, call-girls, railway porters, watchmen, and beggars, ...

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  • TDo the folk tales of a nation give one a good idea of its thinking, or better, its outlook? In a Russian tale, a girl is walking in her garden. A handsome young man passing by on his horse, sees her, lifts her on to his horse and gallops away. She does not ask him who he is and where is he taking ...

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  • TTolstoys character, Andrei Bolkonsky, says: I said such women should be forgiven. Not that I could forgive one. Now where does that leave one? Obviously, it will not do. How about Kafkas Trial? The countryman who seeks admission to the Law. The doorman who stops him. The man waits and waits. Then ...

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  • TIrshad Ahmed Panjabi has done a useful social job with his book, Panjab ki Aurat, which traces the condition of woman from birth to death. He describes the customs observed at various stages of life, for example birth, wedding, death etc., but does not trace the origin of these customs in history. ...

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  • TA. Hameed of the sentimental school of Urdu fiction has written some good stories in that genre. But the genre is itself difficult to handle, ever threatening to descend into sentimental pulp. It is only a rare Krishn Chandr, who can rise to the top in it. However, A. Hameeds editing of an ...

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