ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Premchand’s Karbala 

An Appeal to Human Conscience

Karbala: A Historical Play by Premchand edited and translated by Nishat Zaidi, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2023; pp xvii + 219, `1,695.

Of the voluminous body of Premchands literary works, a substantial part has been rendered into English, not to mention other modern international languages. His short stories and novels are now available to English readers almost in their entirety. The swelling world of English readership of Premchands writings stands as a testimony to the fact that he continues to enthral modern readers across languages and well beyond his time. For the maverick author who always viewed the potential of translation as facilitating cross-cultural dialogue and committed himself to the act of translating select works of some of the important figures of his time, including Leo Tolstoy, George Eliot and Oscar Wilde, into Hindi and Urdu, translations of his own works into English and other world languages are only an appropriate tribute to him.

However, there is one significant genre among his writings, though fewer in number compared to short stories and novels, that has hitherto escaped the gaze of his translators, namely the five plays: Roohani Shadi, Tejurba, Prem ki Vedi, Samgram and Karbala. Interestingly, it is the last play that has now been translated into English by Nishat Zaidi, thereby taking the first step in filling a critical void long felt by readers of Premchands works in translation. Originally written in Hindi and published in 1924, Karbala was subsequently serialised in the then popular Urdu magazine, Zamana, between 1926 and 1928, and finally published as a book in Urdu posthumously in the early 1940s.

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Published On : 9th Mar, 2024

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