Literary Notes: From Reprints and the Perceived Diminishing Sale of Urdu Books – Journal

One agonizes when one hears the frequent lament that “Urdu books do not sell”. But the truth is that every now and then we come across second or third editions of Urdu books. If Urdu books are not selling, why do publishers keep producing new editions or reprints of Urdu books?

The slogan “Urdu books do not sell” is just a ploy used by publishers to avoid paying royalties to writers. Some say that only selected books in Urdu like books by famous or famous writers sell well and publishing serious Urdu works is quite a bad business strategy. They say that serious business is not attracting buyers, pointing to the huge rise in the use of social media and other entertainment for readers’ attention and money. Well maybe. But presentation and discourse are very serious topics and when books on such subjects are sold and their second editions are also well received, one feels that all is not lost, and in a country of 220 million people it is not difficult to find at least a few hundred of seriousness. readers.

Recently, new editions of two Urdu-language books – serious material – have been marketed, not to mention dozens of popular Urdu works that have recently been reprinted many times. It is no wonder that popular novels and folk poetry are reprinted and one can find many editions of the works of great authors such as Ghalib, Iqbal and Qaryat Ayn Haider. But serious works that are reprinted are not rare either.

Dr. Muzammil Hussain Urdu Mein Ilm-i-Bayan Aur Ilm-i-Badee ‘Ke Mabahis’ book, recently reprinted, first explains what ilm-i-bayan (presentation) and ilm-i-badee (forms of speech) are and then describes them Detailing the large number of variations and sub-categories of rhetorical styles with examples from classical Urdu poets. In the third chapter he does a critical evaluation of the books on the subject written in Urdu and then in the next chapter he traces this tradition in Urdu literature. His conclusion is that most poets today are not familiar with these poetic branches that are used to beautify hair, although the importance of these methods and their positive effects cannot be overstated.

The book was first published by the Council for the Promotion of Literature (MTA) in 2010, and it flew off shelves within a year or so. For many reasons, the MTA could not immediately release a second edition and after waiting for a long time, the author decided to reprint it. Fantasy House in Lahore did so with pleasure. This in itself is a reminder that Urdu books even on such subjects, which are seen as dry and lackluster, are selling well because they bridge the gap created by the scarcity of experts who can write on such technical subjects easily.

Apart from sashbih and metaphor and their many sub-categories (for example, Majaaz-i-mursal or metonymy), the book explains, with examples, forms of speech such as exaggeration (exaggeration), allusion (indication), zu qavitin (double rhymed), accusative ( smoothing), soti repetition (anagrams), isotope maras (observe the like) and many others.

A third edition of a book, Discussing Brides or Offers, is reprinted by the National Book Foundation, Islamabad. Written by Syed Abrar Hussain, titled Urdu Behren, or Urdu Meter, translated by Ash’aar Ki Taqtee’ Seekhne Ke Liye Aasaan Kitab, or an easy-to-learn primer.

The author says in his introduction that whenever someone talks about teaching musical notation, crooked terms are used and as a result a beginner who wants to learn to play simply runs away.

Instead of using unfamiliar and strange terms, the author relied his method of explaining al-taqti, as he said, “on syllables.” He divided the words into long and short syllables and then stressed and unstressed syllables. He used an interesting technique to represent these passages. In this technique, a lower semicircle is used to show a one-letter syllable and a dash to show a two-letter syllable. Hence, the Urdu word vafa, for example, appears with a lower half circle and a dash (-), intended to represent the Urdu letter vow with zabar and two Urdu letters, fe and alif.

Explaining with examples from verses written by contemporary Urdu poets, the book discusses 12 meters (Bahrin) most likely to be used in Urdu poetry. But to keep the reader abreast of traditional terms, such as faaelun and mafaaeelun, the book also displays these arkan (house feet) under semicircles and dashes that symbolize syllables. Recommended for anyone interested in learning with ease.

This reprint is a boon for students who cannot find such books either in bookstores or online.

Posted on Dawn, May 30th, 2022