This article contributes to scholarship on Muslim humanities, Islam in modern South Asia, and the Urdu literary tradition in colonial India. It does so by contextualizing and closely reading Ashraf ʿAlī Thānavī’s (1863–1943) commentary on the Dīvān of the fourteenth-century Persian poet Ḥāfiz̤. Unlike his modernist contemporaries, Ashraf ʿAlī does not read Ḥāfiz̤ through the prisms of social reform or anti-colonial nationalist struggle. Rather, in his capacity as a Sufi master, he approaches Ḥāfiz̤’s Dīvān as a mystical text in order to generate insights through which he counsels his disciples. He uses the commentary genre to explore Sufi themes such as consolation, contraction, annihilation, subsistence, and the master-disciple relational dynamic. His engagement with Ḥāfiz̤’s ġhazals enables him to elaborate a practical mystical theology and to eroticize normative devotional rituals. Yet the affirmation of an analogical correspondence between sensual and divine love on the part of Ashraf ʿAlī also implies the survival of Ḥāfiz̤’s emphases on the disposability of the world and intoxicated longing for the beloved despite the demands of colonial modernity.
This essay proposes to energize the mission of the humanities by radically globalizing their subject matter and methods, taking inspiration from the world’s monumental archive of humanistic creativity over 5000 years of recorded experience. It advocates for Comparative Global Humanities as a crucial complement to the more presentist new humanities fields of medical, environmental, or public humanities. Comparative Global Humanities aims to be inclusively global in terms of subject matter and participants, conceptually comparative, and based on rigorous historical and philological research. A Global Humanities for the 21st century is no antiquarian endeavor, but a head-on response to the greatest challenges of our times: systemic racism, inequality, and fundamentalisms, which are rooted in the unresolved aftermath of wars, colonization, and violence, and use classical heritage for nationalist propaganda. To create more equal societies in the present we need to create more equality for other pasts – and learn from all they offer.
This article observes that Kaiser Haq has made an immense contribution to Bangladeshi poetry in English, leading the school of English poetry of the country from the front. A relatively new field, Bangladeshi writing in English has started becoming a part of world literature, and its scope, no doubt, is expanding rapidly. The article also focuses on the legacy of Bangladeshi writing in English to demonstrate how Bangladeshi poetry in English has simultaneously progressed. The article argues that Haq’s enormous contributions justify his position as the best English-language poet in Bangladesh. For his poetry, the poet takes material from his motherland and its rich culture, and his style, technique, and diction resonate with those of prominent poetic voices of the world. The article also sheds light on how Haq presents Bangladesh, depicting numerous shades of reality, and how he still dominates in the contemporary scene of Bangladeshi poetry in English.
Asef Soltanzadah is one of the most thought-provoking Afghan writers. His work, set exclusively during wartime, may be characterized by both seriousness and playfulness. To borrow Warren Motte’s words, “playing in earnest” is his literary signature. Yet, he occupies a marginal place within the institution of world literature not only because he writes in Persian but also because he is minimally translated and read. In this article, I turn to two of his short stories featuring a game of cards and kite flying, setting them into conversation with theories of play. I argue that by creating a space for play, Soltanzadah brings into visibility and reflects on the process, promise and risk of transforming mere life into life world within the time and space of war, challenging the theoretical framing of play in relation to the real world while questioning the possibility of worlding in the time of war.
Simultaneously an emblematic and ambiguous case of engaged literature, proletarian and revolutionary writings from 1920–1940 have been the focus of numerous studies: whether they be in Germany, France, the United States or Soviet Russia, the principal actors have been identified, certain works have been republished, and the ways in which these movements were first encouraged and then dismantled by the Communist International in the interest of the only accepted socialist realism have been demonstrated. However, the transnational and even global dimensions of this movement and the profound similarities among institutional processes carried out in different countries have been overlooked. Drawing on little-known critical sources from the Francophone world, this article reworks the terrain and presents the state of institutional sites of proletarian and revolutionary literature. To this end, small groups, magazines, and associations will be considered in order to shed new light on this era when, across the globe, workers turned into writers.
“Yes, interesting,” said someone from the audience, the first time I presented on dramatic networks; “but, as a mathematician, I feel I only understand something if I know how to ‘make’ it. So: how do you make a dramatic network? What elements does it need, what rules, what stages?” At the time, I had no idea how to respond; in a discipline like ours, where the objects of study are emphatically given – passed on with care, and often with reverence, from generation to generation – the idea of “making” Hamlet sounded half absurd, half sacrilegious. But that’s exactly my object here: neither real plays, nor even the networks that can be extracted from them, but their “simulations” instead.
This essay explores a number of texts of the exophonic, or non-native literary production, respectively in Italian and German, of translingual authors Jhumpa Lahiri and Yoko Tawada. While the paper looks at how their dominant languages, respectively English and Japanese, continue to play a role in these writers’ non-native production, it focuses on the different approaches the two authors adopt to translingualism and the “linguistic family romance” metaphor, which they equally employ in highly imaginative ways in order to address both their condition of rootlessness and their attitudes to the notion of “mother tongue.” The essay argues that while Lahiri seems to remain a writer that does not contaminate languages (she is a writer in English, a writer in Italian, and a translator of Italian literature into English), Tawada brings German and Japanese together and dwells on the space of contamination between them in her production in German (and Japanese).
This essay examines Richard Francis Burton’s The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885–1888), an English translation of the Arabic Alf Laylah wa-Laylah stories that was enormously popular in its own time and continues to be widely admired today – despite the fact that Burton plagiarized extensively from the work of another translator. I argue that Burton’s Nights is neither a faithful nor an original translation of the Arabic stories, but rather an English text whose aesthetic enjoyment is proffered as an affective engagement with the literary aesthetics of the source text, translated through Burton’s own pleasurable experiences of Arabic literary language. Framing the reception of Burton’s Nights, through the Arabic concept of ṭarab, as a process of iterative cycles of pleasure that move between the translator and his readers, I contend that what makes Burton’s Nights enjoyable to read also makes it scandalous to the world literary system within which it has circulated.