Bibliography for Delhi: Pages from a Forgotten History

Dudney, Arthur

This is the bibliography for my book Delhi: Pages from a Forgotten History. About the book: The megacity that is today’s Delhi is built upon thick layers of history. For a millennium, Delhi has been at the crossroads of trade, culture, and politics. The stories of its buildings and great historical personalities have been told many times, but this book approaches the past of India’s capital through its literary culture. Over the centuries writing and discussing literature was not just a leisure activity, but how educated people related to one another, a tool for practicing politics and building communities. By focussing on writers and thinkers, we meet a colourful cast of characters only glancingly mentioned in political histories. Many Delhiites today are surprised to learn that the language of their city’s cultural heyday was Persian. Despite first being brought to India by invaders, it eventually became an authentically Indian language used in both administration and literature. Although it was cultivated by an elite, it was also a widely available language of aspiration and opportunity, like English today. It connected India to the wider world, and the Indian Subcontinent, particularly Delhi, was once a place where talented poets and scholars from the whole Persian cultural world—from Turkey to western China—came to make their fortunes. The fact that Persian is effectively a dead language in India today is a barrier for understanding the past, but this book shows that it is much more familiar than we might have thought. The last glimmers of the living culture of Persian in India are fading, but it has a rich afterlife.

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Also Published In

Delhi: Pages from a Forgotten History

More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Published Here
November 25, 2014


This document was updated with a revised version on January 8, 2016