Category Literature

The Art of Living – Stanford Humanities

“In The Art of Living, a first-year Introduction to the Humanities course, three humanities professors examine great works of philosophy and literature to explore what it might take to lead a well-lived life.” — Stanford Humanities 1. Introduction to The Art of Living 2. Visions of Love 3. It is Not Hard at All to […]

Frances Pritchett: How to Read Ghalib

Frances Pritchett is Professor of Modern Indic Languages in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. She teaches courses on Indian civilization, Urdu literature and Islam in South Asia. Pritchett’s publications include Nets of Awareness: Urdu Poetry and Its Critics, The Romance Tradition in Urdu: The Dastan of Amir […]

Section from a Quran Manuscript, 18th century Morocco or Tunisia. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. | via | Click image for larger view.


“it is as difficult to present a fixed image of a character as of societies and passions. For a character alters no less than they do, and if one tries to take a snapshot of what is relatively immutable in it, one finds it presenting a succession of different aspects … to the disconcerted lens” […]

The Portable Nietzsche

Selections from Nietzsche’s works and complete texts of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Antichrist, Twilight of the Idols and Nietzsche contra Wagner, translated by Walter Kaufmann.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Nietzsche

Ecce Homo – Nietzsche

Goethe’s Conversations with Eckermann

Goethe’s Conversations with Eckermann counted for Nietzsche as “the best German book there is” [dem besten deutschen Buche, das es gibt]. He rated Eckermann’s record of these conversations higher than Goethe’s Faust, on which Kaufmann wittily commented that fortunately, we don’t have to choose between the two – we can read both.

‘Art’ by Yasmina Reza

Set in Paris, the story revolves around three friends—Serge, Marc and Yvan—who find their previously solid 15-year friendship on shaky ground when Serge buys an expensive painting. The canvas is white, with a few white lines. Serge is proud of his 200,000 franc acquisition fully expecting the approval of his friends. Marc scornfully describes it […]

Dream is a second life. – Nerval

It has been over a decade since I personally realized how great a role dreams play not only as representations of our waking life but also strongly influence it. My dreams are mostly vivid and some like this early morning’s are so honestly wishful, coherent and powerful that I owe my mood to them, at […]

How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne

One of the remarkable things about Montaigne’s Essays and his biography by Sarah Bakewell is that your Montaigne could be just as present and real as mine. In How to Live, the man comes to life so paradoxically and so well, as a comforting, endearing, spontaneous human being, that I can’t help calling this Pyrrhonian […]

The Journal of Henry David Thoreau

“Thus each wind is self-registering.” Henry David Thoreau is justly famous for his book Walden, which tells the story of the two years he spent living by the pond, in the Concord woods. But he also wrote a journal, which he started at age 20 in 1837, and kept up until 1861, shortly before he […]

Tea and the Little Madeleine

I feel there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and thus effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen […]

How Proust Can Change Your Life

How Proust Can Change Your Life – Watch this BBC film on YouTube To make reading into a discipline is to give too large a role to what is only an incitement. Reading is on the threshold of spiritual life- it can introduce us to it; it does not constitute it. It’s from adolescents who […]

Emerson & Self-Culture – John T. Lysaker

Garm Hava

Garm Hava was made in 1973 by M S Sathyu. The script by Kaifi Azmi and Shama Zaidi was based on an unpublished short story by Ismat Chugtai. When scorching winds blow, those that are not uprooted, wither away. Salim Mirza discovers this the hard way when he refuses to go to the newly formed […]

Why Live Without Writing

Unpopular answers to poetry questions. BY DURS GRÜNBEIN Questions are remarks —Wallace Stevens “… So, why write? “In the first place, I would say, you write to escape your dread of the sheer present. You fill page after page, as Nietzsche once put it, with angry yearning, not to cozy up to your nearest, but […]

A Cast Iron Bell & Birds In Bodhi Trees

Bird Sounds I went to the Golra Railway Station with a friend to try and get a few good photographs. We had parked the car next to the platform. There were no signboards for parking and no security personnel. After about fifteen minutes of mostly useless photography, a plainclothes policeman reluctantly came up saying their […]

Siddhārath Gautam Buddh

Ghani Khan wrote with some satisfaction in his otherwise inconsequential book, The Pathans, that Pathans used to be Buddhists before embracing Islam. The monastery of Takht-e Bhai which I have yet to see for myself (captured by the World Heritage team in panography), the Buddhas of Bamiyan and other relics found in Afghanistan and Swat […]

Nasadiya from Rig Veda

Nasadiya (Creation Hymn) 10.129 Translation and commentary by Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty This short hymn, though linguistically simple (with the exception of one or two troublesome nouns), is conceptually extremely provocative and has, indeed, provoked hundreds of complex commentaries among Indian theologians and Western scholars. In many ways, it is meant to puzzle and challenge, to […]

An Address – by a Selfless Volunteer

Ibn-e-Insha 1927 – 1978 Ibn-e-Insha is a 20th century Urdu language writer of great merit – his real name was Sher Muhammad Khan. He was the contemporary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, but his poetry is apolitical. His travelogues are rife with interesting encounters and witty descriptions of peoples and places. Pitras Bukhari and Shafiq-ur-Rehman were […]


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