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The Pity of Partition: Manto's Life, Times, and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide (The Lawrence Stone Lectures) Hardcover – 24 Feb 2013

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The Pity of Partition: Manto's Life, Times, and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide (The Lawrence Stone Lectures) + Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (24 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691153620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691153629
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013

"Tufts University historian Jalal (Partisans of Allah), a great-niece of Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955), gives readers an intimate, passionate, and insightful portrait of this brilliant but tragic man as he navigated and interpreted the repression, chaos, and violence of the final years of British colonialism and the upheaval of India's 1947 partition. The book follows Manto's life from his rebellious youth and early adulthood translating Victor Hugo and Oscar Wilde in Amritsar, Punjab, to his years as a struggling journalist and film writer in Bombay, where his provocative stories elicited numerous obscenity charges while building his reputation as 'the father of the Urdu short story' and a "'unique literary miracle" destined for immortality,' and his prolific but troubled later years in postpartition Lahore, premature death at 42, and his boisterous funeral, where 'several of Manto's fictional characters were spotted in the crowd.'"--Publishers Weekly

"[A] fine introduction to Manto and his work, and his depiction of partition."--M. A. Orthofer, Complete Review

"Eminent historian Jalal has written a rich, engaging, at times moving account of the life of Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55), interweaving biography with the tumultuous events of Indian nationalism, the Partition, and early Pakistan. . . . A much-needed study of a pioneering public figure."--Choice

"[S]ome of the finest pictures of Manto, his wife and of his friends embellish this book. Yet, the highlight of Jalal's work is that she has not let her proximity to Manto and his family affect in any way the objectivity that such a study would demand. Her unbiased approach to presenting Manto with his failings and foibles helps a more considered understanding of the writer."--Business Standard

"Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55) was a leading Urdu writer who attracted controversy in prepartition India and early postpartition Pakistan for his short stories and film scripts that dealt with sex and politics in a daring manner. Jalal, his grandniece, uses his published writings and family letters and her interviews with relatives to portray his complex relationship. Interweaving stories from his fiction and events from his life, she produces a rich . . . tapestry of a complex society and the tensions that built up to the explosive violence of partition in 1947."--Foreign Affairs

"Jalal has performed a great service for scholars and the reading public by opening the Manto archive to their gaze. I for one will read Manto's stories, from now on, with added pleasure and comprehension."--Ian Copland, American Historical Review

"Basing her work on Manto's life, his quintessential cosmopolitanism, the many journeys in which he traversed Amritsar, Delhi, Bombay and Lahore, and later, the borders of India and Pakistan, the friendships with other writers and film personalities, and the exploration of different forms of writing--all of this becomes a way of reading the history of Partition, and indeed questioning and resisting the colonial project of separation on the basis of religious identity. . . . This book, especially in the section on his school years, provides detail of the kind that often encourages readers to return to the work to see how life resonates with fiction."--Urvashi Butalia, Livemint

"Ayesha Jalal has succeeded wonderfully in weaving together the three elements she has chosen--Manto's life, his works and the momentous times he lived through. Hers is an honest portrayal of a brilliant man whose own honesty, independent-mindedness and insight were outstanding, and whose stories are still unparalleled."--Gillian Wright, India Today

"Resplendent with anecdotal chapters about Saadat Hasan Manto's growing up years in Amritsar, his adulthood tales in Bombay, and his understanding of partition. . . . Illuminating."--Arunima Mazumdar, Times of India

"This is one book that every Manto lover would love to devour."--Yatin Gupta, IBN Live

"This is a highly readable book. . . . The result is an amazingly informative, even-handed, and lifelike portrait of the great writer."--Ishtiaq Ahmed, Pacific Affairs

From the Back Cover

"This is a masterful historical study of partition as seen through the life and writings of one of the subcontinent's foremost storytellers--Saadat Hasan Manto. A work at once scholarly and emotive, panoramic and personal, gripping and empirical, this is Jalal at her spectacular best."--Seema Alavi, author of Islam and Healing

"This lovingly written, informative, and thoughtful book by Ayesha Jalal is a fitting tribute to the life and work of her great-uncle, Saadat Hasan Manto, one of the leading writers of modern South Asia, on the occasion of his centennial birthday. Jalal moves deftly between history, biography, and literature, experimenting with a narrative method that succeeds in capturing the sense of 'cosmopolitanism in everyday life' that Manto championed. The Pity of Partition deserves a wide readership."--Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

"This is a captivating, beautifully written intellectual and artistic biography of Manto, focusing on the contribution of his writing to our historical understanding of the partition of British India. The book is a revelation, a unique personal history of partition that will stimulate new research into the connections between cultural production, social experience, and politics during these crucial transitional decades."--David Ludden, author of India and South Asia: A Short History

"Jalal's book is timely and necessary. Manto remains one of the subcontinent's most important literary figures, yet outside India and Pakistan there is a sad lack of knowledge about his oeuvre and hugely interesting historical milieu. The Pity of Partition is the most comprehensive English-language study of Manto's life, times, and work."--Priya Gopal, University of Cambridge

"Manto is a twentieth-century master of Urdu fiction who is becoming known worldwide. Until now there was no account in English of his life and literary battles. The Pity of Partition is invaluable for students of Manto and general readers interested in his writing, whose numbers have continued to grow in recent years."--Aamir R. Mufti, author of Enlightenment in the Colony

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An impressive and wonderfully informed of the most important literary chronicler of Partition. Jalal doesn't quite answer her own question - about how creative writing is folded in with other more conventional historical source material - but she does know and love her subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By zahid khursheed on 18 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
good book.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tariqmuda on 9 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
It has been a pretty interesting topic for me personally, one which I have wrestled to grasp passionately for some years now. Ayesha's questioning of the reasons for Partition are sound, but she still fails to mention the mention the main reason which most of us Pakistani Punjabis subtly admit, ergo power. Has any minority race managed to hold on to power in any democratic culture of the world? Don't know how Ayesha has failed to mention such a vital reason in her otherwise pretty interesting book. Majority means power and power is the chief reason why Pakistan was backed by Punjabis and Bengalis in 1947 and why Bengal got rid of Punjabis in 1971. Ayesha is quite wrong at citing religion as the main reason for the Partition in 1947, for if it was than 1971 would not have happened. But I do agree with the result of Partition when I compare between Muslims in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It is plainly obvious that Partitioned Pakistani & Bengali Muslims seem to thriving as opposed to the pretty sorry state of Indian Muslims at present. Of course if Partition had not taken place than Muslims could have commanded a different social cadre is pure speculation and a much favoured argument proffered by Muslims of India.
Ayesha's interpretation of Jinnah's choices for the pursuit of Muslim power in a federally homogeneous united India should be taught as curriculum in Pakistan and India as it was Nehru who forced Jinnah to accept the plan C, something he had already rejected publicly twice before.
But Partition is digressing all the limelight away from the great Munto who in my opinion is a picture of archetypical Pakistani male. What a writer, bold, creative, revolutionary, vibrant, and a dervish all built in one. If only I had a little bit of Munto......
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book was an eye opener. I do not ... 6 April 2015
By Helen T. Brose - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was an eye opener. I do not think the west understands what a mistake it was to break up India into 3 countries. So much loss of life and suffering. Manto wrote to these problems clearly and he had a big following for his writings. 10,000 people came to his funeral.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Bio of great writer 16 Sept. 2013
By Rebecca E. Rizvi - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This biography of the great Urdu writer Manto, by his niece, a historian and excellent writer herself, draws on a wealth of interviews and primary source materials. It portrays a man whose writing reflected the effects on ordinary people of living through tumultuous times. Recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Exceptional 18 April 2013
By Mohammad Farooq - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
A fitting tribute to the greatest Urdu short story writer of the 20th century. Dr Ayesha Jalal has given a historical perspective to Manto which has never been attempted before and has captured the essence of his stories and at the same time dwelled into his state of mind perfectly. A must read for any person who wants to go into the intricacies of Partition.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great service 17 April 2013
By Hiba Rana - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was a great service. Got it in timely fashion. Loved the book, its a masterfully written book. Two thumbs up.
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