The book is not only for those whose mind permits the elasticity of its openness to myriad personalities that Iqbal was but also for unenthusiastic wanderers. Zafar makes this well-researched book available to a scholar as well as a novice reader in equal measure. Even a swift, fast reading will help any reader to absorb the crux as all comprehension flows from vivid description of background material which Zafar lays bare before his readers prodigiously. Elegance and condensation marks Zafar’s work. Nothing is over-explained.

Review of Zafar Anjum’s Iqbal-The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician (Random House India.
Price 499. Pages-274) by K K Srivastava

iqbal frontElemental awe, history and poetry are indelibly linked and the best connection among the three was sought by none other than Derek Walcott who wrote, “For every poet it is always the morning in the world, and History a forgotten insomniac night; History and elemental awe are always our early beginning, because the fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world, in spite of History.” Zafar Anjum’s sprawling book, a reminder of the raison d’ etre of what Walcott said, begins with a question posed to him by one of his friends, ‘Why the biography of Iqbal?’ Zafar gives four answers splendidly. It is to,’ ‘Narrate Iqbal’s life once again for those who have forgotten him.’ and further because- ‘I am attached to Iqbal by an umbilical cord that is both spiritual and intellectual. ‘; ‘during languid summer afternoons and buried winter evenings, while we did our school work, Iqbal seeped into us’; and finally ‘The great poet, in an oblique way became a real presence in my life.’ And thus emanates the justification.

The book is neatly divided into four parts: each part covering distinct period of Iqbal’s life and evolution as a statesman. Readers inclination to read the book is not of much relevance here nor they have to toil to make good of lines as there are no stumbling stones; Zafar knows the art of excavating by traversing forgotten pages of history. Zafar locates the self of Iqbal which signifies Iqbal’s belief in ‘living a straight forward, honest life’ as ‘Life is a state of war’.in the backwash of history and culture and portrays Iqbal’s feelings with the solitude of an observer. Artistic unity of the book irrespective of sources material was culled from is distinctive and engaging. The book is not only for those whose mind permits the elasticity of its openness to myriad personality that Iqbal was but also for unenthusiastic wanderers. Zafar makes this well-researched book available to a scholar as well as a novice reader in equal measure. Even a swift, fast reading will help any reader to absorb the crux as all comprehension flows from vivid description of background material which Zafar lays bare before his readers prodigiously. Elegance and condensation marks Zafar’s work. Nothing is over-explained.

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