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The Adventures of Amir Hamza Hardcover – Oct 23 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; abridged edition edition (Oct. 23 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679643540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643548
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 5 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #476,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for The Adventures of Amir Hamza:
The Adventures of Amir Hamza is a wonder and a revelation — a classic of epic literature in an interpretation so fluent that it is a pleasure to sit down and lose oneself in it. The story line itself is endlessly diverting and inventive, and the prose of the translation is beautifully rendered....For the modern American reader, The Adventures of Amir Hamza....with its mixed Hindu and Muslim idiom, its tales of love and seduction, its anti-clericalism….its stories of powerful and resourceful women, and its mocking of male misogyny, is a reminder of an Islamic world the West seems to have forgotten: one that is imaginative and heterodox.”
The New York Times Book Review and the International Herald Tribune, William Dalrymple

“This sensitive new translation by Musharraf Ali Farooqi is filled with lyrical resonance....a marvelous dovetailing of fantasy, history and religion.… Lovers of The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night will immediately notice many stylistic similarities....There's a familiar cast of supernatural characters, including angels, jinns, giants and dragons…..And there's a capacious quality, a generosity of imagination that seems to invoke the layers and centuries of storytelling….Readers who prefer their heroes to be unequivocally heroic and who are ready to enjoy special effects on the page will love losing themselves in this complex yet ancient world of the imagination.”
The Washington Post, Diana Abu-Jaber

“I was also bowled over by a remarkable new translation of The Adventures of Amir Hamza (Random House Modern Library), the Iliad and Odyssey of the medieval Persian world: a rollicking, magic-filled heroic saga, full of myth and imagination. It is the first time it has been translated into English and it is as close as is now possible to the world of the Mughal campfire - those night gatherings of soldiers, Sufis, musicians and camp followers one sees in Mughal miniatures - a storyteller beginning his tale in the clearing of a forest as the embers of the blaze glow red and eager, firelit faces crowd around.”
New Statesman, a BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2007 selection

“It’s hard to think of an epic more dazzlingly splendid….Farooqi has given world literature a gift….Non-Urdu-speaking readers can at last appreciate an epic ‘on par with anything in the Western canon.’ And, with luck, the classical pantheon populated by indomitable Achilles, cunning Odysseus and righteous King Arthur will now be joined by a new beloved hero: mercurial, mighty Amir Hamza, astride his winged demon steed, soaring to the heavens.”
Time International

“Students of world literature and Eastern languages will absolutely swoon if they are fortunate enough to receive this new translation of The Adventures of Amir Hamza…. With prose as embroidered as the tales themselves, the book should be savored under the covers like a secret lover before some filmmaker steals it away and dilutes it for mass consumption.”
Austin Chronicle

“The Indo-Islamic Dastan-e Amir Hamza is a rip-roaring, bawdy, magical journey into the fantastic life and exploits of Amir Hamza, the paternal uncle of the prophet Muhammad....the story is reminiscent of the tales of Homer and King Arthur and The Arabian Nights. Farooqi's unexpurgated and unabridged English translation from the Urdu is masterful….Destined to become a classic.”
Library Journal

“Possibly one of the most important fantasy events of the year….The Adventures of Amir Hamza turns out to be a terrific series of adventures that sometimes recall Don Quixote, sometimes The Arabian Nights, sometimes the great medieval romances….Farooqi’s energetic and stylish translation…captures brilliantly the insouciant delights of the story teller’s voice, and gives us a highly readable version of a major work of world literature that few of us even knew about. The Modern Library has done us a big favor.
LOCUS Magazine

“What a find it is! For classic refernece points, imagine a more exotic, populous, Eastern variant on Le Morte d’Arthur or Orlando Furioso….one is continually seduced by Hamza’s story. Farooqi’s translation is both elegant and earthy….One is tempted to think that only a malevolent enchantess of great power could have kept The Adventures of Amir Hamza from a mainstream American audience for so long. But now, thanks to the powerful enchantments of Musharraf Ali Farooqi (and the support of Random House, publishers of the Modern Library), we can all sit, transfixed, as this most enthralling and ancient tale unfolds.”
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

“A spectacular and literally marvelous Islamic epic that ought to be almost as often spoken of as the “Tales of the 1,001 Nights.”…By the time you’re well into this world of battles, mythical creatures, beautiful royal daughters, tricksters, demons, deities, erotic encounters, slaughters and poems, you are aware, again, of the seemingly endless miracle of narrative in the world….unequivocally an amazing piece of publishing history.”
The Buffalo News

About the Author

Ghalib Lakhnavi was a writer and poet who worked in India in the nineteenth century. His only known work is the one-volume Dastan-e Amir Hamza (1855).

Abdullah Bilgrami taught Arabic in Kanpur, India. His only known work is his enlargement of Ghalib Lakhnavi’s Dastan-e Amir Hamza (1871).

Musharraf Ali Farooqi is an author and translator. He has translated works by the contemporary Urdu poet Afzal Ahmed Syed and is currently working on the Urdu Project (www.urduproject.com), an online resource for the study of Urdu language and literature.

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a prolific author and editor.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sam Wild on Oct. 19 2007
Format: Hardcover
Slap on your scimitar and join the adventure! The Indo-Islamic Dastan-e Amir Hamza is a rip-roaring, bawdy, magical journey into the fantastic life and exploits of Amir Hamza, the paternal uncle of the prophet Muhammad. Originally a series of oral tales dating from the medieval period, this epic relates Hamza's love of the emperor Naushervan's daughter, Mehr-Nigar, and his struggle to win her hand, serve his emperor, and convert the infidels to the True Faith. Filled with fantastic beasts, fairies, giants, tricksters, warriors, kings, and mythical creatures of all stripes, the story is reminiscent of the tales of Homer and King Arthur and The Arabian Nights. Farooqi's unexpurgated and unabridged English translation from the Urdu is masterful, incorporating the elements and rhythms of the oral tradition and maintaining the wit and verbal style of the original. It is impossible to dislike a book that declares, "Some consume the eggplant and some are by the eggplant consumed." Destined to become a classic; highly recommended for all academic and public libraries. --Amanda Sprochi, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia (From Library Journal - Oct 15, 2007)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Wali on Nov. 4 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this fascinating tale ages ago. But now to read it in this unabridged version and in fluid translation was exhilerating. In my opinion this tale is on par with the arabian nights. i highly recommend this for any lover of legends and folklore.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reviews are categorizing the adventure stories as work of Indo-Persian literature, which may be true. However, I guarantee that the only people who have read these 'Adventures of Amir Hamza' and related 'Tilisme Hoshruba' are the ones from Pakistan, who read it through the abridged version of stories in Urdu by late Maqbool Jahangir. Farooqi has translated from the original version and the result is something new and interesting for people like me who grew reading these stories in our early teens.

These stories are Indo-Pako-Turko-Persian equivalent of Homer's Iliads and other mythologies. However, there are certain differences. For example, it seems that stories are built at least on some real people. Amir Hamza, the young uncle of Holy Prophet Mohammad, was a brave and courageous man, who brought a comfort of security to the Prophet during early part of his prophethood. I am sure the stories of his bravery, prior to Mohammad's prophethood, were very popular around the Arabian peninsula. In time, they reached Persia, Turkistan (Central Asian Republics), India and even Malaysia and Indonesia through conquering armies, sufis, merchants, travellers, etc. and got expanded by the story-tellers.

Reviews are mentioning that Amir was converting pagans to the True Faith. Readers may incorrectly assume that the True Faith refers to Islam. This is not true. Islam came much later. The True Faith refers to the faith of Abraham - the father of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Our children books in Urdu did not capture the romantic side of Amir Hamza. This came out as a pleasant surprise. Amir's love for Princess Meher Nigar is the most prominent piece coming to light through Farooqi's translation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
The Adventures of Amir Hamza (Modern Library) Dec 21 2007
By Naheed K. Haider - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is delightfully written as a translation from the Urdu text. As I read, it has the flowery descriptiveness of the old Urdu stories, leaving me with a feeling as if I was reading an Urdu book. It is well written, is interesting and the story is captivating. This book is one to keep in your personal library and pass on as a gift to family members. As our Urdu language seems to be withering away maybe this will preserve the stories if not the language itself. The author has done a wonderful job !!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Great to give as a gift, beautiful prose Nov. 14 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As someone who has read the Urdu kid's version of the Dastanay Mir Humza by Maqbool Jahangir I think this translation is prettier. His prose is stunningly beautiful. I remember when I was in college- an English major at that time, I happened to read an English translation of Sohrab and Rustum and in that too the prose was absolutely beautiful. So I have a theory that Farsi and old urdu translated into English makes for beautiful prose.

When I was reading the kid's Urdu version by Maqbool Jahangir I was like these books must be for boys with all the "jungs" (battles) and the machismo of the heroes.

Anyway I thank Farooqi for translating this. It's such a pleasure to read this instead of the other two trends in work that is coming from Pakistani writers. One trend is the Jamatay Islami conspiracy theories type books that puts whoever reads them in a bad mood and the other trend is the very embarrassing novels about messed up people doing strange inappropriate things that you can't share with other people. This translation introducing us to the beauty and exoticism inherent in that culture is a great change and I hope Farooqi will be translating more Urdu literary works for us.

This book is also great to give as a present.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Way better than Harry Potter Aug. 15 2008
By Mudassir Ali - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Musharraf Farooqi has done a great service to both Urdu and English literature by translating this all-time classic. It really captivates you so much that once you start reading it, you want to read more and more and that makes finishing this book much quicker than you anticipate. You never lose interest and find yourself taken back to the ancient times Arabia and Persia. The intensity and depth of imagination is amazing and I found it much more interesting and fascinating than Harry Potter or any other book of fiction that I ever read. I hope the translator will keep up his good efforts and translate more of Urdu classics (like Tilsim-e-Hoshruba).

Good job Mr. Farooqi, and many thanks!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pure Entertainment Sept. 28 2009
By Zahra Jamshed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having read the Urdu version (Das'taa'n'ae' Amir Hamza) by Maqbool Jahangir during my pre-teen years, I found the English Version to be very interesting and sweet. The funny episodes are still there. The prose is rich but requires concentration to connect the dots. The friendship of Amir and his friends is a reminder of the value of friendship and how it impacts one's life. There are many other lessons in this fairy tale like journey, but all in all it's an entertaining read.

As I galloped through this voluminous book, I could feel the affection, the association and the special reverence the translator held for the characters in this magical saga. It must have required a lot of persistence and effort to translate this brilliant piece of work for the non-Urdu speaking readers. The adventures cover the entire world and the reader can easily sit down and lose herself in the "magic filled heroic saga".

It is very clever of the original writer to choose long names for his characters. The names leave the reader with a lasting image. For the true fans of the Das'taan(Adventures), it is real hard to forget the names. To assist the readership, at the end, a chapter is devoted to the list of characters, historic figures, deities, and mythical beings. The list describes the meaning of each name and its relevance.

The print is small to keep the number of pages down (perhaps), but each chapter is loaded with funny episodes, rich culture, poetical ballads and interactions that bring smile to one's face. Each chapter covers a story but the reader craves for the next episode. The adventures are a collection of Four Books. I am enjoying my journey through the first one. I have a long way to go but hopefully the colorful, playful and beautiful rendition will continue to make the remaining journey entertaining.

In short, it's pure entertainment.

Hopefully, some day someone will care to make a nice series out of this giving the readership a flavor of an Indo-Persian "Lord of the Rings".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Vibrant Fossils March 5 2012
By Robert Lebling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A treasure trove of wonderful, imaginative stories resides in the collective psyche of the Indian subcontinent. In Sanskrit, there is the mammoth "Ocean of Story," a collection of fairy tales and folklore that goes back to the mingling of Aryan and Dravidian stocks some four millennia ago. Many Indian story motifs found their way into the "Arabian Nights" tales -- that Middle Eastern cornucopia of adventures and wonder-tales beloved by Arabs since the Middle Ages and ultimately taken to heart by the West.

Then there are the countless stories of Hamza, uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, first spun by storytellers in Persia, and elaborated and multiplied in Mughal India. These tales found their way into Urdu, the language of Pakistan, and a 19th-century edition, complete and unabridged, has just been translated into English for the first time.

The stories are the printed fossils of an oral tradition that vanished with the death of the last of the professional storytellers, or dastangos, in 1928. But what vibrant fossils they are!

Amir Hamza, as articulated here, is not your average uncle. A superhero of Mughal vintage, he travels the world - and beyond - with his sidekick, the wily Amar Ayyar, battling evil and setting things right. He even ventures to the realm of the jinn, the distant Mountains of Qaf, and crushes a demon rebellion to restore the rightful jinn emperor to his throne.

The translation of these stories by Pakistani-Canadian scholar Farooqi is masterful and a true delight for all manner of readers. The book contains nearly a thousand pages. If you prefer to sample rather than read straight through, the tales are generally short and self-contained. But prepare yourself to be swept up by the relentless wave of narrative, which could very well carry you from beginning to end before you realize it.

[A version of this review appeared in Saudi Aramco World, Sep/Oct 2008]


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