A century of war, 1914-2014: War & conflict in Urdu literature


Kishwar Naheed, Afzal Ahmed Syed, Satyapal Anand, Wustatullah Khan and Harris Khalique got together to discuss how Urdu literature has written about wars and conflicts, within the subcontinent as well as elsewhere in the world. Khalique moderated the conversation. Following are the edited excerpts from their discussion, translated from Urdu: The Dawn

Harris Khalique: Let’s start the conversation from 1914 as the world is marking 100 years to the start of World War I this year. However, it is important to note that there is also a lot of literature about 1857’s war of independence and that a lot happened between 1857 and 1914. We have memoirs of people who were sent to Kala Pani, for instance. Elegies and stories were written, as well as non-fiction. But we will start our discussion from 1914 and look at poetry and prose, fiction as well as non-fiction, including creative non-fiction, such as autobiographies and memoirs. We will try to look at regional as well as international events in the last 100 years and their impact on Urdu literature.

I’d like to invite Wusatullah to start the conversation.

Wusatullah Khan: I am more interested in what was intentionally not written about, even when all the information was available. Maybe some of it was unintentional. Let’s start with some local examples that are very obvious.

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