The dust of the road: a translation of Gard-e-Raah

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Oxford University Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 271 pages
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Gard-e-Rah, the original Urdu memoir, was first published as a serialized autobiography in the Urdu journal Afkar. The work was interrupted when Raipuri lost his eyesight. However, he completed the book in its present form by dictating the rest of the material. When the book was published it received an enthusiastic response, and has been deemed on of the finest Urdu memoirs. Raipuri's close association with some of the luminaries of Indian politics and world of letters (such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulvi Abdul Haq) has enhanced the interest of the book. However, more than anything else it is the depth of his knowledge of history and his vast reading in many other sugjects, as well as the variety of experience he has had in his life that give the book its wonderfully mature and sophisticated flavor. Happily for the book, Raipuri happened to be present in many places at a time when the place was in the midst of a momentous experience. For example, he was in Calcutta when the city was the hub of intellectual and political activity; he was in Paris during the Second World War; and he was in Karachi at the time of Partition, when the city was poised for a metamorphosis as a flood of refugees found sanctuary there. Moreover, the entire text of the book is imbued with the spirit of the man - brave, ambitious, and appreciating and enjoying the best things of life. It is a truly fascinating book and a work of art.

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Contents

The Early Years
1
Memories of Calcutta
17
Intellectual and Literary Directions
37
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

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Akhtar Husain Raipuri was an intellectual of high status. Born in Raipur, India, he lost his mother at an early age. Although he came from a family with literary tastes, in the absence of his mother it was an illiterate maidservant who was mainly responsible for his bringing up. Yet Raipuri conceived and always retained a deep love for knowledge. He was a voracious reader from a very young age and had a formidable memory for what he read. Moreover, he was a polyglot with command over several languages, among them, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Bengali, English, and French. Raipuri's article Adab aur Zindagi (Literature and Life) was the first piece of writing in India to set down the theory and fundamentals of literary criticism that pioneered the Progressive style in Indian literature. It had great influence in shaping the new style of literary writing. Raipuri left for France before the Second World War, where he read for and obtained a doctorate from the University of Paris. During the War he remained in Europe and has written about this interesting experience in his memoir. He hobnobbed with many literary and other celebrities, and there are numerous fascinating vignettes and glimpses in his memoir of people such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi, Maulvi Abdul Haq, Munshi Premchand, Khalida Adeeb Khanum, the royal family of Iran, Aldoux Huxley, and Sartre. He traveled a great deal as UNESCO's representative in various countires. In addition to his intellectual interests, his love of nature, his pursuits such as mountaineering, and his interest in animals enliven and inform this chronicle.

Amina Azfar is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. She has written story books and school textbooks, both in English and in Urdu. She has translated Munshi Prem Chand's novel, Bazaar-e-Husn, published under the English title of The Courtesans' Quarter and Sajjad Zaheer's Roshani, published under the English title of The Light. Both books have been published by Oxford University Press, Pakistan. Her other pursuit is reviewing fiction. Her book reviews are published in Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper. Mrs. Azfar lives in Karachi, Pakistan.

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