Zahida Zaidi, who retired as Professor of English from Aligarh Muslim University is a distinguished bi-lingual writer in English and Urdu, poet, dramatist and stage director. She has her Honours in English from Cambridge University. In her poetry great depth of feeling and freshness of imagery are balanced by a perfect grip over form and technique. As a dramatist, she is considered to be one of the best at present. Professor Zaidi does the direction and staging of her plays herself. In addition she has staged, directed and translated into Urdu most of the acclaimed modern dramatists and literary giants of the West. Chekhov, Pirandello, Sartre, Beckett and Ionesco are among the greats of the Western world she has translated and staged. Among the Indian giants she has tackled with characteristic finesse and fervour Krishan Chandar, Wamiq Jaunpuri, Ismat Chugtai and Sardar Jafri. Hers is a truly global range.
Here is a collection of informative and perceptive essays on some landmark figures of Urdu literature. Divided into three sections-poetry, fiction and drama, in that order-the galaxy is headed by Ghalib and Iqbal, the two fabled poets of Urdu. Flanking them are five outstanding modern poets, viz., Faiz, Sardar Jafri, Makhdoom Muhiuddin, Akhtarul Iman and Munibur Rehman. A general essay on the secular and humanist traditions of Urdu literature precedes the studies.
Among the novelists are some of the perennials-Prem Chand, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Quratul-Ain Haider-flanked by two significant modern writers-Anwar Azeem and Pegham Afaqi.
A comprehensive essay on Urdu drama and dramatists makes up the third and final section. Trends in theatre movements are also discussed in the essay.
What kind of readership does one envisage for this uncommon work? Writers in other languages and students researching on Urdu literature are of course the obvious targeted readers. It may also be of interest to the younger generations of Urdu-knowing families who are interested in Urdu literature but are not well-versed in the script. And above all, we hope this book will be read by lovers of Urdu poetry and literature all over the world.