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Title : Assembly of Rivals: Delhi, Lucknow and the Urdu Ghazal
Author : Carla Petievich
Edition : Hardbound
ISBN : 9789388540797
Pages : 242
Year of Pub : 2020
Price : Rs 1,095.00
"Urdu critics regard the tradition of poetry of Delhi and Lucknow as belonging to two rival ‘Schools’ and argue that their literary differences reflect differing social conditions in the two primary centers of Muslim culture in north India during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Assembly of Rivals : Delhi, Lucknow and the Urdu Ghazal challenges this ‘Two School’ theory, arguing that a careful examination of Dehlavi and Lakhnavi ghazal texts does not support the distinctions drawn by critics between the two bodies of poetry, and that Delhi-Lucknow distinctions are better understood in the context of a fierce competition for cultural authority which raged between the two centers during a time of political flux.
The author does a fine work of first tracing how the Two School theory developed from impressionistic, oblique comments in Urdu’s earliest critical works by Muhammad Husain Azad and Altaf Husain Hali into a full-blown, formal classification of separate Delhi and Lucknow schools in Abdus Salam Nadvi’s Sherul Hind (1926). The Two School theory is then challenged in a detailed comparison of verses by Dihlavi and Lakhnavi masters written in the same meter and rhyme-scheme. Finally, the Two School theory – amply refutable on literary grounds – is suggested as a discursive device linking Delhi to Mughal and Indo-Persian heritage, and Lucknow to less ‘legitimate’ aspects of Indian culture, as a means of legitimizing Indo-Muslim culture in the face of a moralizing colonial presence.



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