Ghalib Criticism - Essay

N. N. Wig (essay date 1968)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "New Evaluation of Ghalib and His Poetry," in Indian Literature, Vol. XI, No. 1, 1968, pp. 36–48.

[In the following essay, Wig attempts "to study Ghalib's life from a psychological point of view, in an effort to understand his complex personality and the way it influenced his poetry."]

The first centenary of Ghalib's death will be celebrated in 1969. Perhaps no other Indian poet in recent times except Tagore has won so much acclaim. Unfortunately, in Ghalib's case, most of it came after his death. There are more than 40 books on his life and works by different authors, apart from numerous articles and special numbers of magazines devoted to him.


(The entire section is 4278 words.)

M. Mujeeb (essay date 1969)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Personal and the Universal in Ghalib," in Indian Literature, Vol. XII, No. 2, 1969, pp. 5–14.

[In the following excerpt, Mujeeb provides a brief appraisal of Ghalib's career as a poet.]

Ghalib's biographer finds it difficult to identify any event that could be called significant in his life; it was so much a life of the mind. We cannot be sure even of the external circumstances that could have influenced him. He came of what was then considered a good family, and his own statement could be quoted to prove that he was proud of his family and his aristocratic connections. As against this we have the verse, hitherto overlooked, it seems, of his earlier...

(The entire section is 2938 words.)

Ahmed Ali (essay date 1969)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Ghalib's Thought and Poetry," in Perspective, Vol. II, Nos. 8 and 9, February-March, 1969, pp. 107-10.

[In the following essay, Ali provides a short overview of Ghalib's thought and approach to writing poetry.]

Ghalib died a hundred years ago in Delhi at the age of seventy-two, having lost his sense of hearing and all interest in life which, anyway, had not treated him too kindly. Not fully appreciated in his own day, he stands very high today wherever Urdu is read, including the Soviet Union. This should give us food for thought, not so much for the sake of Ghalib as that of poetry and ourselves. Whether we like him or not, whether we understand him or do...

(The entire section is 1151 words.)

K. N. Sud (essay date 1969)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Ghalib's Ghazals," in Eternal Flame: Aspects of Ghalib 's Life and Works, Sterling Publishers Ltd., 1969, pp. 57-77.

[In the following excerpt, Sud discusses Ghalib's contribution to ghazal writing through an examination of several ghazals, finding him the greatest of all poets of this genre in his originality, subtlety of thought, simplicity, and grace.]

Hain aur bhi duniya men sukhanwar bahut achhe
Kehte hain ke Ghalib ka hai andaz-i-biyan aur

(In the world are poets good, galore;
But different, they say, is Ghalib's style.)

The ghazal has not only taken pride of place...

(The entire section is 6303 words.)

Ish Kumar (essay date 1981?)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Poet of Sorrow," in The Melody of An Angel: Mirza GhalibHis Mind and Art, Publication Bureau, Panjab University, 1981?, pp. 55-68.

[In the following excerpt, Kumar discusses how Ghalib expressed the grief, yearning, and regret in his own life in his poetry and how his poetry, in turn, helped him overcome his sorrow.]

Great art is mostly the product of frustration. Lips begin to sing when they cannot kiss.1 It is the sick oyster that is said to bear the pearls. The poets "learn in suffering what they teach in song."2 Keats went a step further:

"None can usurp this shade", returned the...

(The entire section is 5108 words.)

Muhammed Sadiq (essay date 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Age of Ghalib," in A History of Urdu Literature, Oxford University Press, 1984, pp. 228-88.

[In the following excerpt, Sadiq stresses the less attractive side of Ghalib's character to bring to light those subconscious traits that largely determined his inner life and therefore his poetry.]


Mirza Asadullah Khān, sumamed Ghālib, was born on 27 December 1797, in Āgra. His father, Mirza 'Abdullah, an officer in the Alvar army, dying during a punitive expedition, Ghālib, who was then hardly five, became the ward, first, of his uncle Nasrullah Khān, a cavalry officer in the British army, and on his death, four years later, that of...

(The entire section is 13856 words.)

Nairn (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Ghazal Itself: Translating Ghalib," in The Yale Journal of Criticism, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1992, pp. 219-32.

[In the following essay, Nairn discusses five couplets belonging to a ghazal Ghalib wrote before he was nineteen, providing both the transcripted Urdu and free prose translation. The ghazal is considered a typical Ghalibean one and, in the earliest manuscript, an autograph.]

For centuries, the ghazal has been a major genre of poetry in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. A ghazal usually consists of five or more couplets, sharing meter and rhyme. The rhyme itself may be in two parts: the qawāfi1 (sing., qāfiya), which are...

(The entire section is 4895 words.)