Frances Pritchett's lively, compassionate book joins literary criticism with history to explain how Urdu poetrylong the pride of
Indo-Muslim culturebecame devalued in the second half of the nineteenth century.
This abrupt shift, Pritchett argues, was part of the backlash following the violent
Indian Mutiny of 1857. She uses the lives and writings of the distinguished poets and critics Azad and Hali to show the disastrous consequencesculturally and politicallyof British rule. The British had science, urban planningand Wordsworth. Azad and Hali had a discredited culture and a metaphysical, sexually ambiguous poetry that differed radically from English lyric forms.
Pritchett's beautiful reconstruction of the classical Urdu poetic vision allows us to understand one of the world's richest literary traditions and also highlights the damaging potential of colonialism.