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Book Cover for: Revisiting the Origins of Urdu Poetry: Vali Dakhani and Early Literary Networks in Eighteenth-Century India, Heidi Pauwels

Revisiting the Origins of Urdu Poetry: Vali Dakhani and Early Literary Networks in Eighteenth-Century India

Heidi Pauwels

This book examines the emergence of Urdu as a literary and Poetic language in the 18th century, highlighting its engagement with diverse regional cultures and communities in South Asia.

Revisiting the Origins of Urdu Poetry
reframes the history of Urdu within the diverse contexts from which it emerged. It places the earliest Urdu poets and their craft in the lively social gatherings, bazaars, shrines, and courts of 18th century South Asia.

Through aesthetic analysis and historical contextualization of poems, using primary sources in manuscripts, the authors reveal why everyday vernaculars, multi-lingual puns, alongside the use of courtly Persian and complex metaphors attracted a wide audience for this new literary language.
Dhawan and Pauwels re-examine the long-dominant mischaracterization of Urdu as an elite language of South Asian Muslims by analysing the poetic biographies of Vali Dakhani and his contemporaries Fa'iz, Abru and Hatim. The authors reveal how selective attention to a handful of poets and rarefied courtly texts obscured the much more diverse roots of an important vernacular tradition, thereby reconstructing a lost literary network of speakers, poets and participants in Urdu's past.

Book Details

  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris & Company
  • Publish Date: Jun 26th, 2025
  • Pages: 272
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.21in - 6.14in - 1.00in - 1.00lb
  • EAN: 9780755650057
  • Categories: Asia - South - GeneralModern - 18th Century

About the Author

Purnima Dhawan is Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington, USA. She is the author of When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition (2011).

Heidi Pauwels is Professor at the University of Washington, USA. She is the author of Mobilizing Krishna's World: The Writings of Prince Savant Singh of Kishangarh (2017).