The subject matter of literature:
Some thoughts of
Abul Mansur Ahmad

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
February 2000

[The following translation was done in the context of a Topic of the Month discussion on Shetubondhon]

Dear Shetubondhon Friends, 

Salam and greetings. 

In this part "The subject matter of literature", Abul Mansur Ahmad articulates that national distinctiveness requires that the literature finds a root in the heritage and culture of its people, without which national identity of nobility and greatness cannot be built. Once again, one does not have to agree with every single aspect of his articulation, as I myself do not. Indeed, there are plenty of arguments and underlying assumptions in his works that can be disputed. However, one should focus on the main thrust of his articulation. Also, it might be a good idea to read the entire four parts of this series of excerpt to have better understanding and appreciation of the author's theme. 

The subject matter of literature: Some thoughts of Abul Mansur Ahmad

"What we stated about the spirit of literature also applies to the subject matter of literature. If we are not the central characters of the literature, if my workplace is not the background of the literature, if my conviction is not the message of literature, how that literature can be my literature? The literature of which my heritage, my history, my legends, and my folklore are not the sources, how can that literature be our life-source? The imagery of Rama-Lakshmana, Vim-Arjuna, Sita-Sabitri, Radha-Krishna, Mothura-Ajodhya, Udjoyini-Indraprostho represents in Hindu minds, imagination, and gratification (rosh), the kind of association of ideas it generates, can it do that in Muslim minds? In the same way, the memory, imagination and enjoyment Ali-Hamza, Sohrab-Rustam, Shahjahan-Alamgir, Hajera-Rahima, Razia-Sultana, Siraj-Kashem, Isa Kha-Musa Kha, Gour-Sonargaon generate in Muslim mind or the idea of association they entail, could it be the same for the Hindus? It's not merely related to Hindu-Muslim. It is applicable to the whole world. The national consciousness of any nation revolves around its legacy and heritage. Until the literature is created based on that heritage, the nation won't receive any inspiration from that literature. Let me give a more contemporary example." 

[Abul Mansur Ahmad, Bangladesher Kalchar, Ahmad Publishing House, 1966, p. 163-168.]

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