DELHI IN AHMED ALI'S TWILIGHT IN DELHI

Sangeeta Mittal
2018 Acme International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research   unpublished
Ahmed Ali's Twilight in Delhi occupies a very significant place in writings and readings on Delhi as it takes us into the lanes and homes in Shahjahanabad along with a few other notable works like Nazeer Ahmad's Mirat-ul-Uroos and Krishna Sobti's Dil-o Danish. Twilight sets out to accomplish the political objective of making an impassioned plea for revitalising the crushed native self, the literary sensibility and sensitivity of the writer does not let the novel dwindle to mere propaganda and
more » ... re propaganda and jingoism but takes it into the unchartered territories of comprehending and narrativising the native self. Touching upon minutiae of Shahjahanbad at all levels, it traverses the Muslim cultural matrix of tradition and modernity, stasis and reform, resistance and alienation and nation and community. The modernist pen of Ali writing in English for the British is at the same time delving into spaces of tortured subjectivity, identity, politics, urbanity and creativity of the Muslim community at the cusp of India's independence. The paper explores the lenses through which Ahmed Ali gazes at these spaces. The paper also underlines the importance of reading Twilight in conjunction with the two books mentioned above to not only catch a glimpse of the culture of Shahjahanabad but also the impact of colonization on representational practices of that culture. There has been a renewed interest in Twilight in Delhi in the centenary year of its author Ahmed Ali (1910-1994) in 2010. A volume titled the two sided canvas: perspectives on Ahmed Ali to "fill in the gaps in scholarship" was brought out under the stewardship of Mehr Afsan Faruqi (Faruqi, 2013). Sahitya Akademi also commemorated the writer's work in a three day seminar under Prof. Harish Trivedi's guidance. "What is Ahmed Ali doing?" in Twilight in Delhi is an oft asked and variously answered question. His contemporary and compatriot Muhammad Hasan Askari observed that there was a non-literary and a literary purpose behind the novel. The non-literary comprised of writing a "guide" to Delhi for Englishmen: "I can, as a result, repeat without fear that the book has been written for Englishmen who are unfamiliar with life in Delhi and the author wishes to acquaint them with this way of living" (Askari, 1949, 2013, p. 14). The novel's uneasy relationship with Delhi has also been noted in terms of its singular focus on a particular version of the past as well as modernity, a particular religious community, a particular class of that religious community and literariness that overshadows progressive politics. The novel, however, occupies a very significant place in writings and readings on Delhi irrespective of the centenary issue or the commemorative seminar as it takes us into the lanes and homes in Shahjahanabad along with a few other notable works like Nazeer Ahmad's Mirat-ul-Uroos
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