Book ReviewVolume 13 Issue # 21

The Evolution of Ghalib

One of the most oft-quoted poets of the nineteenth century, Ghalib was an intellectual colossus, whose po-etry is imbued with timelessness and universality. Born and brought up in North India, he wrote both in his mother tongue, Urdu and in Per-sian, the established and privileged language of literature and official-dom. He wrote exquisite prose, but is better known for his poetry, partic-ularly his Urdu ghazals. In The Evo-lution of Ghalib, the author, Hasan Abdullah, provides a detailed intro-duction that describes Ghalib’s life history and brings out his persona and situates his work in time and space. He briefly discusses the Urdu language and ghazal as a literary form and familiarizes the reader with the words, symbols and concepts crucial for understanding Ghalib’s po-etry. Based on a chronological reading of Ghalib’s Urdu ghazals, the au-thor identifies the different stages and phases of the poet’s development and from each of these phases, selects and interprets verses, including those that differ from the dominant trend, in order to reveal Ghalib’s in-tellectual evolution.