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Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021
Outlook.com

Brevity, A One-Eyed Duchess

Unforgivable omissions, insipid choices of prose and poetry and a novel theory on the origins of Urdu—these anthologies do scant justice to their grand design

Brevity, A One-Eyed Duchess
Brevity, A One-Eyed Duchess
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

"Being published by the Oxford University Press is like being married to a duchess; the honour is somewhat greater than the pleasure," said a writer who had made the grade. OUP is undoubtedly the most prestigious academic publishing house in the world. I am pleased with myself because it has provided me with a harem of three duchesses. Mehr Farooqi, who is Professor of South Asian Literature at the University of Virginia, has done better: she got two at one go. I am green with envy. However, she is a lady: what will she do with duchesses? I also have a few bones to pick with her, not entirely out of pique at being ignored as a translator but for the injustice she has done to Urdu. I will spell them out in detail.

Professor Farooqi tells us that Urdu was born in Gujarat, travelled to the Deccan and finally arrived in Delhi where it attained maturity. This is the first time I’ve heard this theory. The general belief is that it is the mixing of Turkish, Farsi and Arabic speaking soldiers in the armies of Muslim invaders with...

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