When Urdu and English fictions stand equal

When Urdu and English fiction stand equal

Similarities of treatments in English novels and Urdu novels identified by Dr Omair Ahmed Khan

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain


A mind-blowing discussion took place on Saturday at a meeting on literature when  Dr Omair Ahmed Khan presented his comparative study on the art of description of Virginia Woolf in English literature and the art of narration of Urdu fiction by Qurratulain Hyder and highlighted the identical qualities in the arts of the two literary giants.

He pointed out that the two writers had set a unique trend to write fiction by using the method of ‘stream of consciousness’. In this way the two had  adopted a non-conventional style of writing in their eras, Dr Khan maintained. He further elaborated that the characters of the two novelists used to travel in different times.

The characters seemed to move and talk in such a situation that has no time limits and rather they remained beyond certain limits and spans as is generally happened in fiction, Dr Khan contended. He cited two novels ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and ‘To the Lighthouse’ written by Virginia Woolf and then referred to two Urdu novels  titled ‘Aag ka darya’ (River of fire) and ‘Safeenae gham e dil’ (The boat of a broken heart) by Qurratulain Hyder and highlighted that the two writers had the similar hints and creative views to deal with the fictional matters.

He further contended that the two, though had never pleaded the case of elite class, they profoundly  discussed the issues and hang-ups of the elite classes in their creativities. Besides the two writers had been very fluent in writing and painting their characters without caring of Grammatical context and certain literary jargon and other standards of writing due to ‘stream of consciousness’ factor. However the two writers proved to be original and perfect in experiencing the  ‘monologue’ style and expression of story in the mode of ‘stream of consciousness.’

Dr Khan underlined some other creations and essays of Virginia Woolf to establish her a feminist writer to some extent. He  also cited a few writings of Quraatulain Hyder in  reference to her feminist posture in literature. Dr Omair Ahmed Khan argued that Virginia was too loud and very eloquent in pleading the cause of feminism but Hyder concentrated on her characters to take the same issue up.

Dr Omair Ahmed Khan, a writer, poet, translator and script doctor (who did his PhD on script writing) concluded that a thorough study of the two writers brought to light very interesting questions on form, format and expression.

The creative writings of the two novelists played a significant part in the  development of literature around the world. However one thing was very clear that the two writers had developed their expertise in narrating characters by applying  ‘stream of consciousness’ mode and that was a total deviation from the past tradition to write novel or fiction, Dr Omair Ahmed Khan concluded.

Injila Hamesh who presided over the online sitting of Halqa e Arbaabe Zauq (HAZ), Karachi observed that Dr Omair Ahmed Khan made his mark in presenting a good study and comparison that pinpointed many aspects of invention of novels by the two greats.

The study dealt with the treatments, knitting sand characterization in modern literature  Injila Humesh pointed out that the study was interesting and rather motivational in order to understand the fiction of two greats in the light of a fresh view presented by Dr Khan.

She suggested that the study should have taken into account the factor of different conditions and situations of the two writers as this aspect played a key role in producing such a unique view of perceiving things. She contended that no any writers ever supported the elite class or exploited classes and instead exposed their negative actions.

Injila Humesh threw light on the tragic aspects of life of Virginia who had to suffer of ill mental health (bipolar disorder) due to a chain of unfortunate incidents.

Other writers including  Shahnaz Parveen, Masood Qamar, Attaur Rehman Khaaki, Naheed Waheed, Asghar Khan, Najma Usman, Kamran Mughal, Asif Ali Asif, Khawaja Muhammad Azam and Farhatullah Qureshi also took part in discussion.

Asif Ali Asif who conducted the proceedings of the meeting said that HAZ Karachi has an edge to keep up holding sittings on very important literary issues especially the presentation of comparative studies by Dr Khan.

Dr Khan at an early meeting had compared the fiction of Mirza Haadi Ruswa (Urdu novel titled Amraao jaan Ada) and the fiction of Gustave Flaubert (his novel titled Madame Bovary).

Masood Qamar and Najma Usman appreciated Dr Khan for his thought-provoking study. Masood Qamar briefly presented his account of meeting with Qurratulain Hyder and found her a very nice and decent human being. Najma Usman also shared her experience of meeting with Hyder, while adding that she was a great writer and a human being as well. Attaur Rehman Khaaki, who was chief guest at the meeting  observed that a posture of nostalgia was often seen in the novels of Hyder.

He commended efforts of Dr Khan on adjudging the creations of two wonderful fiction writers. Shahnaz Parveen who spoke at length, noted that Dr Khan determined a good and logical context to examine  and review the literary roles of the two writers. Yet it was not an easy job to determine the exact similarities among the two novelists. Asghar Khan, Khawaja Muhammad Azam and Farhatullah Qureshi paid rich tributes to Dr Omair Ahmed Khan for his brilliant studies and expressed their hope that Dr Khan would keep up presenting comparative studies in future as well.


Dr Omair Ahmed Khan

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