The Promises and Perils of Courtly Poetry: The Case of Mir ʿAbd al-Jalil Bilgrami (1660-1725) in the Late Mughal Empire

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Abstract

This article examines the career and writings of the minor poet ʿAbd al-Jalil Bilgrami (1660-1725) in order to explore the relation between the practice of courtly poetry and the work of politics in the Late Mughal empire. Tracing the transformations in ʿAbd al-Jalil’s writings over the first decades of the eighteenth century, this article demonstrates that the poet’s practice, driven as much by literary concerns as by material needs, responded to and was implicated within the politics of the Mughal court. His life thus illuminates both the opportunities and dangers opened by the practice of poetry in an era of the rapid and unprecedented dispersal of political authority in the empire.

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