04 December, 2020

Torn Images Fractured Words

Saadat Hasan Manto's short, short stories

Torn Images Fractured Words

One of the subcontinent's finest short story writers, Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55) belonged to a middle-class Kashmiri family of Amritsar. Educated in Amritsar and at AMU, he arrived in Bombay in '36 to edit a weekly, joined AIR Delhi in '41 and returned in '43 to work for the Bombay Talkies. In January'48 he moved to Karachi. Virtually drinking himself to death, he wrote his own epitaph on August 18,'54:

Here Saadat Hasan Manto lies buried-and buried in his breast are all the secrets of the art of story writing. Even now, lying under tons of earth, he is wondering whether he or God is the greater short story writer.

He wrote over 200 stories, besides plays and essays. The first collection came in '40; he was condemned for an 'obsession with sex, morbidity', and was twice prosecuted. His stories on 1947 were reviled, he was dubbed a cynic and sensationalist. A critic said he had desecrated the dead, robbing them of their privacies to build a collection. His defence: "I came to accept this nightmarish reality (Partition)...



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