|About the Book|
This is one of the first books in any language on the life and work of Miraji (1912-49), a member of the triumvirate of canonical Urdu poets of the twentieth century. Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings aims to unravel the paradox of an acclaimedMoreThis is one of the first books in any language on the life and work of Miraji (1912-49), a member of the triumvirate of canonical Urdu poets of the twentieth century. Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings aims to unravel the paradox of an acclaimed modernist writer whose poems are widely regarded as impossibly difficult to comprehend. It also grapples with the vexed issue of how to speak of a Muslim male poet who wrote under a Hindu womans name, and whom contemporary critics described as mad, sexually perverse, and a voyeur.Mirajis short life spanned the final period of British colonialism in South Asia, and his work played a part in the nationalist struggle. This book locates Mirajis writings in the colonial milieu of his time by linking them to the literary and theoretical concerns of a prior generation of writers. By contextualizing Mirajis life and lyrics within a literary history of modernist poetry, it suggests new ways of conceiving modernizing nationalisms and their relationship to gender and sexuality. In a manner consistent with Mirajis own poetics, the author traces the logic of nationalist discourses in order to identify multiple intersections and possibilities foreclosed in the process of state formation in India and Pakistan.Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings does more than delineate the construction of a modern Urdu literary canon from the 1920s to the 1940s. It teases out the threads that wove Urdu modernism into the global Marxist and progressive literary movements of the time- it resituates Miraji as an anticolonial, nationalist writer- it examines the way critics have played Mirajis life off his work and provides an alternative biography- and it presents close readings of some of his most compelling and challenging poems. In the process, the author reconceives the relationships among nationalism, gender, and sexuality. Appendixes offer a rich sampling of new translations of Mirajis poems, essays, and other prose works.