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Umrao Jan Ada

David Matthews (Translator) Mirza Muhammad Hadi Rusva (Author)
Synopsis Umrao Jan Ada, published more than a hundred years ago, was the first true novel in Urdu. It tells the story of a Lucknawi courtesan, a woman of great charm with a reputation as a brilliant poet and singer. Documented by a close friend and supposedly dictated by Umrao Jan, the novel weaves the courtesan's story with interspersions of poetry, exploration of social dynamics, and the author's radical subtext with regard to patriarchal double standards. Umrao Jan Ada is perhaps one of the most enigmatic figures in South Asian literature. To date, the question of her existence, her scholarly abilities and her poetic gifts remain a mystery. While the novel offers no twists and turns, it is a remarkable attempt to capture the essence of what it meant to be a courtesan in nineteenth-century India.
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About the authors

David Matthews

David Mathews is Senior Lecturer in Urdu and Nepali at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. His published works include A Course in Nepali, studies on Iqbal, Hali and Anis, as well as An Anthology of Urdu Love Lyrics and A History of Urdu Literature. Among his translations from Urdu are Hayat-e-Javed, The Battle of Karbala, Shaukat Siddiqi's God's Own Land (Khuda ki Basti) and a selection of Urdu poems in English verse with an accompanying Devanagari text. At present, he is working on the Persian verse of Amir Khusrao.

Mirza Muhammad Hadi Rusva

Mirza Muhammad Hadi Rusva (1857-1931) was born in Lucknow in the very year which saw the collapse of the Kangdom of Avadh. There is nothing remarkable about his career which took him from teaching in schools to the Nizam's advisory board on language matters. Like many of his contemporaries, he composed Urdu poetry, and seems to have acquired a reasonable reputation in the art. He wrote a number of novels, but now his fame rests solely on Umrao Jan Ada. Throughout the pages of his book the life and customs of nineteenth century Lucknow, the home of the Navabs are vividly portrayed with great affection and a nostalgia for a glorious past which is no more.

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Bibliographic information

Title Umrao Jan Ada
Format Softcover
Date published: 12.01.2006
Edition 2nd ed.
Publisher Rupa & Co.
Language: English
isbn 9788171673117
length xxxviii+207p., Notes; 20cm.