Unsung Urdu literature continues to live on

Literary platforms could help revive Urdu resistance literature, say speakers

Laila Raza February 12, 2018


Urdu literature is being produced as rapidly as it was produced in the past, however, today it suffers from lack of appreciation, writer and dramatist Asghar Nadeem Syed said as part of a panel titled, ‘Aaj ka Urdu Adab’  or Urdu literature of today, held on Sunday at the ninth Karachi Literature Festival.

“The lutf [pleasure] of reading a well-structured sentence, be it humourous or satirical, has sadly disappeared from today’s generation,” said short story writer Anwaar Ahmed.

The notion that literature continues to live on and is being produced massively even today was the gist of the discussion. However, a change in attitude towards literature and the reception of it over the past few decades has led to a decline in its popularity.

When and how this minimisation of the Urdu language took place relates to the historical process of colonialisation, partition and sublimation of the rich culture and tradition of the Subcontinent.

“Previously, the culture of storytelling and dastaan goi [expressional reading of literature before an audience] inculcated a taste for Urdu literature among the youth. As these practices diminished, literature too got cluttered,” said Ahmed.

The writers held the view that the status of literature in a society depends upon propagation and its lack thereof.

“One cannot read and understand contemporary writer Mashhood Mufti without having read Manto. Literature in this sense is interlinked with the past and present and this is how it depicts the upcoming times,” reiterated Syed.

"Literature manifests itself gradually, it stands before its time and therefore, one needs to develop pronouns understanding of literature,” Ahmed said, explaining Syed’s view.

“If you read Ibne Insha, he might appear surrealistic to today’s young generation but that’s not the case,” remarked Ahmed.

The speakers discussed the importance of literature and its humanising force, which largely shapes a society. Deterioration of propagation of literature is leading towards society losing its core values, culture and traditions thread by thread, they added.

“An abundance of literary platforms and platforms where Urdu literature can be discussed can contribute to the resolution of this issue. However, we must begin with our roots, that is, preparing children for literature is what we need most,” suggested Syed.

Ahmed reiterated that “production of literature never stops because history will raise questions time and again and writers’ responses to that question will never change, even if the era does.”


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