The Beginnings of Pashto Narrative Prose

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The article argues that the first specimens of Pashto original narratives in free prose are to be found in the historiographical compilation Tārīkh-i muraṣṣaʿ (1724) among the texts of the chronicles, diaries, and memoirs written by the Khaṯak tribal rulers Khūshḥāl Khān (d. 1689) and Afżal Khān (d. circa 1740/41). Over thirty fragments from these texts may be qualified as short stories for, being focused on particular events and episodes, they are distinguished by strikingly realistic manner of narration and well developed elements of detailing, descriptiveness and emotiveness. Richly illustrated with translations of selected excerpts from original Pashto texts the article summarises the stories’ subject-matters by grouping them into three main categories (wars, incidents, everyday life events) and discusses various aspects of the authors’ narration techniques, such as compression of time and space in kea moments of action, accentuated portrayal of characters, extensive use of direct speech with a range of stylistic timbres. The article proves that the stories of the Khaṯak chiefs may be viewed also as unique documents on the realities of the Pashtun tribal life in pre-modern times.

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