Anthems of Resistance

Vijay Prashad in Himal (via Amitava Kumar):

Screenhunter_05_jan_17_2008With Anthems of Resistance, Ali Husain Mir and Raza Mir, two brothers hailing from Hyderabad, in the Deccan, come bearing a substantial gift. Archaeologists of a lost sensibility, they tear the wild foliage of communal hatred aside and take us to a promised land: this is not freedom itself, but the articulation of revolution by a generation of poets. The story begins in 1934, at a Chinese restaurant in London, where some of the greatest artists of the day met to found the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA). Their unabashedly modernist manifesto called upon artists to “rescue literature and other arts from the priestly, academic and decadent classes in whose hands they have degenerated so long; to bring the arts into the closest touch with the people; and to make them the vital organs which will register the actualities of life, as well as lead us to the future.”

The Urdu writers in the group inaugurated a tradition known as taraqqi-pasandi (progressivism), and poets such as Firaq Gorakhpuri and Josh Malihabadi wrote revolutionary anthems to shake off the cobwebs of custom for the creation of an enlightened future.

More here.