Francis Robinson/Marion Molteno – The Famous Ghalib: The Sound of My Moving Pen

Event Date: 18 October 2016
Royal Asiatic Society
14 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HD


The Royal Asiatic Society presents:

The Famous Ghalib: The Sound of My Moving Pen

The Famous Ghalib: The Sound of My Moving Pen introduces this great 19th century Urdu poet to anyone who wants to find out why his poetry has inspired generations of Urdu speakers and many others besides. It explains the form of poetry in which Ghalib wrote, and how he used its symbolism to express his response both to the universal experiences of life and to teh times that he himself lived through. It includes over 200 couplets in Ralph Russell’s translations, alongside the original Urdu – and also transcribed using both English and Hindi scripts, making Ghalib’s wonderful poetry accessible to the widest audience.

Ralph Russell (1918 – 2008) has been widely recognized as the greatest Western scholar of Urdu. His unusual skill as a translator and his insightful writing have opened up an appreciation of Urdu literature to a wide range of readers. Forover thirty years he headed the Urdu department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and throughout his life regularly spent time both in India and Pakistan. He pioneered the teaching of Urdu to English speakers in communities in the UK, to encourage greater mutual understanding between people of different backgrounds.

Marion Molteno, the editor, studied Urdu with Ralph Russell and worked closely with him for the last 26 years of his life. She edited his autobiography and several of his major books on Urdu literature, and as his literary executor continues to edit his work. She is a prize-winning author of four novels and a collection of short stories, and her latest novel, Uncertain Light, draws on the inspiration of Ghalib in Ralph Russell’s translations.

Francis Robinson is Professor of South Asian History, Royal Holloway College, University of London.





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