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HERBERT Marcuse, the famous philosopher who criticised both the capitalist societies and the Soviet communism, wrote in his book One-dimensional man that industrialised societies through the mass media and advertising integrated individuals into the existing system. They created “false needs”, resulting in one-dimensional behaviour and thought patterns. In a nutshell, Marcuse says that through the mass media a few individuals dictate our perceptions as they make us behave in a particular way, making us believe that happiness can be bought in the shape of consumer products.

This integration — writes Dr Syed Jafer Ahmed while quoting Marcuse in his intro to Dr Hilal Naqvi’s new book — does make the human beings the mechanical parts of the capitalist machine, “but human beings lose their individuality, creativity and critical thinking”. We all have become, so says Dr Ahmed, kind of one-dimensional parts of machines and can think only in the way the system tells us to. “The system labels certain personalities and our thinking is moulded accordingly. Be it Iqbal or the Quaid-i-Azam, Hafeez Jallundhri or Faiz Ahmed Faiz, our approach is limited and one-dimensional”, he adds. “This stereotyping when applied to Josh results in thinking that Josh was a poet with a huge vocabulary, and that’s all. His Yaadon ki baraat is mentioned just like ‘value addition’, as the term is applied to the consumer products.”

Dr Jafer feels that Dr Hilal Naqvi has successfully tried to change our one-dimensional thought patterns by writing this book and other books on Josh Maleehabadi (1894-1992), emp­hasising the multifaceted personality and talents that Josh has presented through his literary works, both in prose and poetry.

Dr Hilal Naqvi is rightly dubbed by his contemporaries as an authority on Josh Maleehabadi since he has penned or edited, in addition to other works, seven books on Josh: Josh Maleehabadi ki nadir-o-ghair matboo’a tehreeren (1992), Irfaniyaat-i-Josh (1992), Josh Maleehabadi: shakhsiyet-o-fan (2007), Josh ke inqelabi marsiye (2010), Auraaq-i-Josh (2010), Yaadon ki baraat ka qalmi nuskha aur us ke gumshuda auraaq (2013) and Sabir Thariyani ke Gujarati qat’aat: Josh Maleehabadi ka manzoom tarjuma (2013). Dr Naqvi also edits and publishes Josh shanasi, a literary journal devoted to research on Josh Maleehabadi and his works.

Now Dr Naqvi has come up with his eighth book on Josh: Inteqaadiyaat-i-Josh. Just published by Karachi University’s Pakistan Study Centre, the book includes Josh’s critical writings published from 1931 to 1982. Born in Rawalpindi in 1950, Dr Hilal Naqvi is a poet, critic, academic and research scholar. He has the distinction of being among the scholars and protégés who have had a close association with Josh. In fact, Josh is among Dr Naqvi’s teachers and mentors and he has played an important role in Dr Naqvi’s grooming and training. As a result, Dr Naqvi’s first book, a collection of his poetry, got published when he was hardly 20 years old. Today he has over 20 books to his credit. To pay homage to this great poet and his mentor, Dr Naqvi has carried out extensive and rigorous research on Josh, finding some rare and unpublished material, which was ultimately published as research works.

Having done his PhD on Jadeed Urdu marsiya beesveen sadi mein, Dr Naqvi’s other passion is marsiya (elegy). In addition to editing and publishing Risaai adab, an Urdu literary magazine devoted to elegiac genres, Dr Naqvi has published several research and critical works and anthologies on elegy.

In his latest book Inteqaadiyaat-i-Josh, Dr Naqvi has highlighted a different aspect of Josh’s literary personality: Josh as a critic. The book, as meticulous as Dr Naqvi’s works usually are, puts together 39 critical essays, seven book reviews, three prefaces, 39 introductory pieces and many critical excerpts, all written by Josh and dug up from different rare sources, some of them as old as 87 years.

In his preface Dr Naqvi says that “Josh lived for about 88 years and though he had composed his first couplet at the age of five, he began writing poetry pretty regularly when he was 13. So we can safely say that his literary career spanned over 75 years. It is quite rare to have such a long literary career and perhaps no other writer or poet of Urdu has been as prolific as Josh” But at the same time he laments that “much of Josh’s literary work still remains unpublished, scattered and on the verge of being completely destroyed as individuals as well as institutions never paid any heed to the calls to get them preserved and published”. The preface is a piece of literary and research work unto itself.

The book carries a detailed alphabetical index — something considered a must for the research and critical works, but rarely found in Urdu books. With the publication of this book, Dr Hilal Naqvi has definitely strengthened his reputation as an authority on Josh.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2017