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Poetry in Motion

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Chapter Summary

Since the late nineteenth century it has become customary to view the Hindi language and its literary heritage as an arena of culture. Even a cursory glimpse at North India's pre-modern literary landscape reveals a deeply hybrid past, for Muslim writers and patrons played a decisive role in the development of both of North India's classical Hindi idioms, Awadhi and Brajbhasha. This chapter focuses on the courtly traditions that Hindi specialists today designate by the term rīti or "(high) style". The term "rīti literature" designates a diverse repertoire of courtly genres including elaborate praise addresses to royalty, political narratives, historical poems, lyrical styles, as well as a robust tradition of vernacular rhetoric. These vignettes of readership, connoisseurship, and scholarship highlight the multilingual competencies of Indo-Muslim literati in the early modern period and signal some of the complex ways in which rīti texts were shared between Muslim and Hindu readers.

Keywords: Hindi language; North India's classical Hindi idioms; rīti literature



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