Rethinking Progressivism and Modernism in Urdu Poetry: Faiz Ahmed Faiz and N. M. Rashed

A. Sean Pue


Literary historians of modern Urdu poetry frequently divide twentieth-century writers into two camps--progressives and modernists.  In such a reading,  Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-84) is exemplary of the "art for life's sake" position associated with the Progressive Writers Association, and N. M. Rashed (1910-75) frequently represents the "art for art's sake" position of modernism.  Through an assessment of these writers' understandings of each other and close readings of their poetry, this essay demonstrates that these familiar categories, first articulated in the late 1930s and early 1940s in progressive literary criticism, fail to capture the literary output of either poet.  Instead of abandoning these categories,  however, this essays suggests that they remain important to literary history as historical facts, as a part of literary discourse.  This essay therefore considers the role of literary interpretation in literary production, and the way that these two prominent Urdu poets shaped their own work in accordance to the way it was received.


Faiz Ahmad Faiz; Rashid, N M; Urdu literature; modernism; progressivism

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