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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Ghalib's Life and Times Part One: Ghazals Part Two: Ghazal Verses Part Three: Other Genres 1. Poems 2. Letters 3. Prose Notes Appendix 1. Ghalib's Comments on His Own Verses Appendix 2. Ghalib Concordance, with Standard Divan Numbers Glossary of Technical Terms and Proper Names Bibliography Index Urdu Text

About the Author

Ghalib (the pen name of Mirza Asadullah Khan) lived from 1797 to 1869. Primarily famous for his Urdu ghazals, he is also known for his letters, which paint a vivid picture of life in nineteenth-century Delhi. Frances W. Pritchett is professor emerita of modern Indic languages at Columbia University. Her books include Nets of Awareness: Urdu Poetry and Its Critics (1994), The Romance Tradition in Urdu: Adventures from the Dastan of Amir Hamzah (1991), and Ab-e Hayat: Shaping the Canon of Urdu Poetry (2001), translated, edited, and introduced in association with S. R. Faruqi. Owen Cornwall is a visiting lecturer at Columbia University in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies. He is currently working on a book manuscript about Alexander the Great in the premodern Persian literary tradition.


Ghalib is the first ample and compact introduction to the Urdu oeuvre of the last great 'Mughal' poet of India. It fills a long felt lacuna, and does so admirably well. The translators have provided all that a reader might need to get closer to the poet and the man, including Ghalib's own comments on many of his 'difficult' verses. -- C. M. Naim, University of Chicago Ghalib once described himself as "A nightingale of a yet to be created garden, singing with the white heat of an ecstatic imagination." Gifted with the vision of a seer, he could well be describing how this elegant and dazzling translation makes his poetry come alive in English, a world apart from his nineteenth century Delhi. This is a superb introduction to this marvelous poet, resonant with his subtle nuances and exquisite meanings. -- Asif Farrukhi, editor of An Evening of Caged Beasts: Seven Postmodernist Urdu Poets Ghalib: Selected Poems and Letters is a tour de force, an offering of love by one of our most prominent contemporary scholars of Urdu poetry. Pritchett brings to this anthology a lifetime of scholarly devotion to Ghalib, while Cornwall demonstrates his promise as an emerging scholar. This volume offers new insight to fellow devotees of Ghalib's poetry through extraordinary translations, all contextualized by a rich body of historical, cultural, biographical and secondary literary materials. To the interested novice who takes this book up, a door will open revealing a beguiling and wondrous world. -- Carla Petievich, The University of Texas at Austin The engaging tone of this rigorous volume will make Ghalib accessible to a wide-ranging audience that does not speak Persian or Urdu. It successfully brings into focus the reigning tropes and motifs of Perso-Urdu poetry and Islam. Yet the real importance of the work lies in its profound approach to translation; Pritchett and Cornwall extract beauty from a close reading of the texts without venturing into a discourse that does not accord closely with the original Perso-Urdu words and idioms. -- Syed Akbar Hyder, The University of Texas at Austin Translation is a labor of love; it is the breaking of silence between languages. It poses unique challenges. Ghalib's multivalent, convoluted poetry is loaded with delicate metaphors and word play. Much of it is not even translatable. Frances Pritchett and Owen Cornwall have carefully chosen some of the best ghazals that are most translatable, and done a marvelous job of rendering them into idiomatic English. An indispensable part of the book are the endnotes that explicate nuances that were either impossible to capture or require cultural knowledge to understand. Valuable information about possible readings and further discussion is also provided. -- Mehr Farooqi, University of Virginia

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