[Ebook] ➥ The Courtesan of Lucknow ➫ Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 240 pages
  • The Courtesan of Lucknow
  • Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa
  • English
  • 06 June 2019
  • 0882530763

10 thoughts on “The Courtesan of Lucknow

  1. says:

    Umrao Jan Ada is a memoir for a Lucknawi courtesan and it was the very first true story that was ever written for Urdu literature Culturally, I could not stop feeling extremely excited about finally being able to read this book It touched on many parts of my Islamic heritage that brought back childhood memories draped in nostalgia However, I felt that in the end this particular story resulted in being quite dense Urdu literature usually consists of rhythmic poetry Now that s not to say ther Umrao Jan Ada is a memoir for a Lucknawi courtesan and it was the very first true story that was ever written for Urdu literature Culturally, I could not stop feeling extremely excited about finally being able to read this book It touched on many parts of my Islamic heritage that brought back childhood memories draped in nostalgia However, I felt that in the end this particular story resulted in being quite dense Urdu literature usually consists of rhythmic poetry Now that s not to say there aren t other literary forms in the genre, but that is the most common Historically and culturally, a person s ability with poesy is what determined how educated, or intelligent they were This is a key facet of the book Without understanding the importance of this cultural practice, it is terribly difficult to absorb the vast majority of it There is an author s note in the beginning of the novel that does a fantastic job of explaining this practice as well as defining the key Urdu words that describe the different kinds of poetry and social gatherings associated with them.The reason that I mention this is because there is a lot of poetry in Umrao Jan Ada, so if you aren t a fan of it there s a good chance that you will not enjoy this narrative at all As I read on, I instinctively read the verses in Urdu in my mind When translated into English, they lose some of their rhythmic appeal and may come off as a bit awkward to the ear The biography reads similarly to Memoirs of a Geisha You ve got a well educated woman who is extravagantly skilled in many arts, especially singing, dancing, and poesy, which is very akin in nature to the Japanese geisha Even their seemingly debauched practices are almost identical the courtesan s virtue is sold to the highest bidder, which also has a ritualistic practice associated to it, and then they have men who pay them monthly to keep them as their mistresses danno in Japan This cultural association really fascinated me very much Lucknow India and Gion Japan are about thirty five hundred miles apart, yet some of their cultural practices are virtually indistinguishable I love that whilst being vastly different on numerous levels, at the heart of it in certain regions, most Asian civilizations are inherently the same If you re wondering what does all of this have to do with the book Well, it goes to show you that artistic rituals of these localities in India are described in great detail One of the best elements of Umrao Jan Ada is how much information you receive about Indian Islamic culture pertaining to Lucknow and surrounding areas You can see that large remnants of these customs are still alive today in, not just Islamic practices, but certain Indian customs as well, depending on the region of the country This is fantastic food for history buffs, or people who are interested in Asian studies like me There are two things that I did not care for in the novel, and evidently it lowered my rating for it The first, like I mentioned above, is that the writing starts to feel immensely dense about halfway through the title I m not sure if this is related to the translation, or if it s because the overall tone of the entire thing just remains relatively stagnant The unending descriptive of minute, gratuitous details imbues boredom My brain also couldn t keep up with the unnecessary and irrelevant events that Umrao Jan speaks of I felt that most of it could have been excluded entirely as it really causes a wane in interest The second component that I did not care for were the interludes in the story that take place between our courtesan and the author Midway through a telling of some situation or event, they will abruptly stop and chit chat It felt jarring at certain times With much better editing, and most definitely some attention to formatting, I feel this would not have been as terrible as it came off Overall, Umrao Jan Ada was a decent read It had a lot of characteristics that made it greatly captivating If you don t mind an abundance of awkward poetry, or some immaterial ramblings, then it s worth checking out I recommend this to people who can stomach poetry, as well as to folks interested in historical accounts, and Asian cultures My final rating is three and a half mushairas out of five


  2. says:

    Borrowed from school library.Despite the fact that the story is about a courtesan, I liked the narrative Perhaps because the narrator was a poet There is nothing to vividly described for readers to cringe The era the book is set in, mesmerised me, making me wonder how would it feel to be part of those days.It is painful, tasteful, and surprising at times A couplet that I still remember, for it reminds of food I was always hungry back in the days I read this book I still am, so nevermind Borrowed from school library.Despite the fact that the story is about a courtesan, I liked the narrative Perhaps because the narrator was a poet There is nothing to vividly described for readers to cringe The era the book is set in, mesmerised me, making me wonder how would it feel to be part of those days.It is painful, tasteful, and surprising at times A couplet that I still remember, for it reminds of food I was always hungry back in the days I read this book I still am, so nevermind


  3. says:

    legend of Lady Luck in LucknowMore than half a century ago I served in the Peace Corps in Lucknow, an old city on the plains of North India It had seen better days The last echoes of the courtly Muslim culture of the 18th and 19th centuries still seeped out of the back streets and along the Gumti River I was fascinated and came to love the elaborately polite Urdu spoken there, the poetry and music, and the sharp wit of many of the inhabitants I enjoyed the delicious Mughlai cuisine and visit legend of Lady Luck in LucknowMore than half a century ago I served in the Peace Corps in Lucknow, an old city on the plains of North India It had seen better days The last echoes of the courtly Muslim culture of the 18th and 19th centuries still seeped out of the back streets and along the Gumti River I was fascinated and came to love the elaborately polite Urdu spoken there, the poetry and music, and the sharp wit of many of the inhabitants I enjoyed the delicious Mughlai cuisine and visited all the old nawabi buildings like the Bara Imambara, Jama Masjid, Chhota Imambara and Shah Najaf But that old Lakhnawi culture was disappearing even then I only got the last whiff of it If you would like to read about the days when it flowered, you must get hold of this book It is neither the best novel you ll ever read nor the best translation ever made Khushwant Singh s , but you will fall under the spell of a culture that has nearly vanished Perhaps it concerns the seedier,immoderate part of that culture the world of courtesans, their patrons, musicians, and bandits but it depicts a world that surrounded the court of Avadh, an Indian state whose capital was Lucknow The Nawabs of Lucknow lost power after the failed war of independence in 1857, the court ceased to exist and so all the luxuries, decadence, and culture with it Umrao Jan is a small town girl, kidnapped and sold to a madam in the city, given extensive training in music, dancing, poetry, and general deportment She becomes a famous courtesan with numerous lovers from all walks of life Her world is one of patrons, jealousies, and little love but many attachments Her life story, told by Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa, forms the story of the book As she grows older, she becomephilosophical and hands down to us her observations gleaned from a tough life She wanted to be loved, but life ordered her fate differently She was secluded in a brothel, but came to understand the hypocrisies of life It is, of course, a novel, not a biography, but one which has made an impression upon many generations of South Asians, and was made into a Bollywood film in 1981 Wo zamaana chalaa gayaa, janaab, jab Khalil Khan apna faakhtaa uraayaa karte the


  4. says:

    There is a poetry to life that we might notice if we take that small aspect called effort Of the numerous books of verses I ve read, Umrao Jan Ada by Mirza Muhammed Hadi Ruswa is undoubtedly one of the finest ever written There is a rhythm in the words that he strings into a verse that rings through one s mind and sends pleasant shivers down the spine Ruswa translates as The Disgraced but is far from what his pen name suggests There must be countless books giving an account of the life There is a poetry to life that we might notice if we take that small aspect called effort Of the numerous books of verses I ve read, Umrao Jan Ada by Mirza Muhammed Hadi Ruswa is undoubtedly one of the finest ever written There is a rhythm in the words that he strings into a verse that rings through one s mind and sends pleasant shivers down the spine Ruswa translates as The Disgraced but is far from what his pen name suggests There must be countless books giving an account of the life of a prostitute but never could one have ever been written like the story of Umrao Jan Ada.Through this book first published over a hundred years ago in Urdu, Ruswa takes one on an enthralling journey through the life of a renowned courtesan whose charm and musical knowledge coupled with wisdom never fails to enrapture one The novel is known for its elaborate portrayal of mid 19th century Lucknow, its decadent society, and also describes as a subtext, the moral hypocrisy of the patriarchal system of the times, where Umrao Jaan also becomes the symbol of a nation that had long attracted many suitors who were only looking to exploit her It is a book which one wouldn t put aside even for a second till the last word has been read A book so potent in its every verse that one feels the strange tug of a fine thread of sympathy turn into respect for the wise courtesan, Umrao Jan Her words that love seeks out a prostitute all her life but never does it remain one s and one s alone shows the sorrow that was always hidden behind the much refined sheath of pomp and glory The circle of mirthful happiness and ironic sorrow is the essence of the glorious tale of Ruswa s Umrao Jan


  5. says:

    The original story is slender and, of itself, I m not sure what I d make of it, but in translation and with an introduction that sets it into its literary and cultural context, this book is a great read All Umrao Jan fans will be interested.


  6. says:

    This famous Urdu novel has been been given the Bollywood treatment twice.Both times,the movies have been well worth watching with some unforgettable music.I didn t enjoy the book as much as I liked both movies.


  7. says:

    The story arouses nostalgia and longing in me for the essence of classic lucknowi culture and traditional richness of Urdu poetry that is contained in it I was wholly engulfed and was compelled to finish the novel till the end.


  8. says:

    dramatic important seminal i can def overlook quite a few narrative flawsunreliability being one i couldn t quite believe half of the things she told Ruswa Secondly, i wouldn t dwell on the discourse about women s weaknesses and their very generalized idea of love because it is a book of its timeso there s that


  9. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Rating 3.5 rounded to 3Some people say Umrao Jan Ada really did exist Some are not very sure But this book says everything written is true There is nothing to not believe in this book But Umrao Jan remains a mystery to date Who will listen to the tale of my woeful heart Far and wide have I wandered on the face of this earthAnd I have much to impart.The book is narrated by the author Mirza Ruswa as told by Umrao Jan Ada Mirza Ruswa, why do you provoke me and try to wheedle out of me the fact Rating 3.5 rounded to 3Some people say Umrao Jan Ada really did exist Some are not very sure But this book says everything written is true There is nothing to not believe in this book But Umrao Jan remains a mystery to date Who will listen to the tale of my woeful heart Far and wide have I wandered on the face of this earthAnd I have much to impart.The book is narrated by the author Mirza Ruswa as told by Umrao Jan Ada Mirza Ruswa, why do you provoke me and try to wheedle out of me the facts of my life What interest can you possibly have in the life story of a woman like me An unhappy wretch who has drifted through life without any mooring a homeless vagrant who has bought shame upon her family a woman whose name will be as disgraced in the world to come as it is in the world today However, if you insist, I will tell you.Umrao Jan was born as Amreen in a normal household in Faizabad Her father worked for the government and her mother was a housewife Her father s enemy, Dilaawar Khan, kidnapped her when she was 9 years old and sold her to a prostitute house in Lukhnow This house was a high class house where the courtesans only entertained men with lots of money and power Khanum, the owner of the house, trains and refines Amreen into Umrao Jan.Umrao Jan hadthan 5 lovers in her lifetime Some she loved back, some she didn t She only kept them for the money they could provide She takes you into the kind of lives the courtesans of Lucknow lived in that time their glamour, their splendor, their ability to make any man bend in his knees.But she was never truly happy She never found anyone whom she could truly love It was not her helpless lovers devotion she put to test but to find out which way of tormenting them was the best.As Umrao Jan puts it, I am but a courtesan in whose profession love is a current coin Whenever we want to ensnare anyone we pretend to fall in love with him No one knows how to lovethan we do to heave deep sighs to burst into tears at the slightest pretext to go without food for days on end to sit dangling our legs on the parapets of wells ready to jump into them to threaten to take arsenic All these are parts of our game of love However stone hearted a man may be, he falls for our wiles But I tell you truthfully, no man ever really loved me nor did I really love any man.This book is an easy and delightful read I have not seen the old movie based on Umaro Jan but I have seen the latest She is shown to be a pious and a one man woman.They have twisted and turned the facts to suit the sensibilities of the Indian audience which itself is an insult to Umrao Jan and the life she had lived and suffered I really loved reading the poems in the book I ll leave you with one of them Even while dying I thought not of deathBut recalled her ways to the last of my breath.Never to love or a kind gesture she inclinedBut thought only in what ways to be unkind.I could have managed to pass the long night of separationHad not the thought of thy tresses increased my agitation.In separation painful was my every breathEither I thought of you, or,often, of death.Ask me not why in sinful love I so much revelEven heaven without love will to me seem hell.


  10. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here SPOILERS Umrao Jaan is probably my favorite novel of all time I know it s an old book, but I absolutely love it and have read it over three times I have to say I read the Urdu version and the translated version from David Matthews If you don t speak Urdu, and even if you do this book is hard, I really suggest the David Matthews translation, it s excellent and gives it justice The book starts with Umrao Jaan sitting in a Mefil reciting her poetry and singing Ghazals There, the author, become SPOILERS Umrao Jaan is probably my favorite novel of all time I know it s an old book, but I absolutely love it and have read it over three times I have to say I read the Urdu version and the translated version from David Matthews If you don t speak Urdu, and even if you do this book is hard, I really suggest the David Matthews translation, it s excellent and gives it justice The book starts with Umrao Jaan sitting in a Mefil reciting her poetry and singing Ghazals There, the author, becomes intrigued by her and wants to know why she became a courtesan She asks him why he would want to know of such a depressing tale But she agrees to tell him We find out her real name is Amiran and she grew up in Faizabad Dilwar Khan, a man her father put to jail, wants to take revenge on her father He kidnaps Amiran and wants to kill her, however his friend tells him if he sells her to a brothel in Lucknow they can get money for her She is sold to Khanum Jaan, who renames her Umrao Umrao describes that they treated her quite nicely, she learns to read and write there, both in Urdu and Persian She is also taught classical dance and music While growing up there she describes her relationships with Khanum Jaan and the other girls in the brothel with her This is my favorite part of the book, she describes the types of relationships she has with the girls around her and with Khanum Jaan She never complains or pities herself for being there She even describes the fun times she has there She doesn t get the suffix Jaan until her first client The story moves through her life, she describes her first love, Nawab Sultan and how he shoots a customer who also likes Umrao Nawab is no longer allowed to come to the brothel and Umrao meets him secretly Another customer starts coming, named Faiz Ali, who gives her tons of jewelry, gold and other things He asks her to come to Farrukhabad with him, she goes without Khanum Jaan s permission On the way there, they are stopped by soldiers and Faiz Ali turns out to be a criminal She is imprisoned but she is recognized by someone who used to work with her and is freed She then sets up her own business in Kanpur, and takes clients there Umrao s friend Gauhar finds her in Lucknow and convinces her to come back to Lucknow She goes back to her old life there until the siege of Lucknow She flees to Faizabad and finds her mother and brother They disown her and tell her she d be better off dead She goes back to Lucknow She learns that Dilwar Khan was found robbing again and he is executed Umrao uses her jewelry and gold from Faiz Ali and quits The reasons I love this novel so much, is that is a simple story It has no twists or turns but it captures Lucknow and the life of Umrao so well Some people swear Umrao Jaan is real, and there is no proof she is But I can see why people believe she is, Umrao Jaan s character shines so well through this book She is charming and engaging, and you want to keep reading her story Reading the story you can hear her voice and even though there is no descriptions of her, you can picture her so well It takes a type of woman that is looked down in society and humanizes her None of the story feels trite or contrived I just absolutely love this book Once you read the book, watch the movie with Rekha, it is also pretty good


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The Courtesan of LucknowThis Is Ruswa S Masterful Retelling Of The Life Of A Courtesan Of Lucknow, A Woman Of Culture, Charm And Wit As Well As A Poet, Dancer And Singer Rich In Historical Detail, The Novel Captures The Spirit Of Old Lucknow And Its Elegant Decadence


About the Author: Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Courtesan of Lucknow book, this is one of the most wanted Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa author readers around the world.