Urdu literature has evolved abreast with the development in Urdu language. Over the passage of time as the language developed with the same rate the literature of the language grew in different genres. Although the most dominant and prominent genre of Urdu literature comes in the form of Urdu poetry, however, Urdu literature is as diverse in its form as could be the literature of any language. Although Urdu literature is primarily popular in Pakistan because Urdu is the official language of the country, it is also read and understood in India and Afghanistan.
Although there is no defined origin of Urdu literature, however, a general consensus is that it initiated in the courts of Persian emperors. This Persian influence along with the Arabic association from Islam makes Urdu language and Urdu literature both an amalgam of rich cultures and history. These multiple influences make the literature rich in terms of its subject matter and diverse in terms of its style.
Popular Forms of Urdu Literature:
From its origin till it present Urdu literature has evolved and diversified in its form and intellectual versatility. Urdu language learning is not accomplished without thorough understanding of its poetry and literature. Some established and recognized forms of Urdu literature are as under:
This form of Urdu literature is same as the Epics found in literature of any other language. Although like in other languages in Urdu also dastaans (epics) were generally composed in poetry, however, with the passage of time prose took it over and became the prime medium of narration of dastaans. The art of writing dastaans has its roots in Iran however, the dastaans that are recognized as the ‘first Urdu dastans’ are Dastan-i-Amir Hamza from the 17th century. Since then there have been numerous popular, famous and critically acclaimed dastans produced in Urdu language.
The compilations of the maxims, literary memoirs and verses of great poets along with their biographical details are referred to as Tazkiras. Along with this preliminary information Tazkiras also contain critical commentaries on the styles and works related information of the poets. Some Tazkiras follow the alphabetical order where the details of every poet follow the other on the bases of their name, while other Tazkiras follow a chronological order where the poets are enlisted in terms of their time.
No literature is considered complete or reputable without poetry being its integral part. Urdu literature is known for its poetry and its poets have made name all around the world due to their style and use of beautiful diction to explain even the more complex of things and feelings in the most vivid manner.
Urdu novel is one of the most read and cherished forms of Urdu literature. In its start, the focus of novel was the urban social life, however, with the progression of time the scope broadened and started including other areas of life, especially rural social life. However, in reality it was the partition of sub-continent that gave a new life to Urdu novel and its scope broadened to other psychological matters such as quest for identity, contemporary life and its reality along with the idea and way of love that changed from generation to generation. There have been countless novelists who have written great novels the discussion of which requires substantial time.
The Urdu equivalent of short story is Afsana. It has been a part of Urdu literature for more than a hundred years. The art of writing afsana has been distributed into several phases namely, romantic period, progressive writing, modernist writing and the presently prevalent phase. Major names in Urdu Afsana writing include, Munshi Premchand, Manto, Ghulam Abbas, Ismat Chughtai, Krishan Chander and Rajinder Singh Bedi.
Urdu drama is an evolved form of North Indian dramatic traditions. There had been great play writes who would write dramas to be presented in the courts of Rajas, Kings and Emperors. After that the drama moved into the theaters and since then it has been both performed in theaters and telecasted over the mass network of television.
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