The Babur-nama in (English) Vol.2 Translated By Annette Susannah Beveridge
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Jahangir II 1920-1948
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Luzac & Co, 46, Great Russell Street, London
0375761373 l 9780375761379
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The "Memoirs of Babur" or Baburnama are the work of the great-great-great-grandson of Timur (Tamerlane), Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur (1483-1530). As their most recent translator declares, "said to 'rank with the Confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau, and the memoirs of Gibbon and Newton,' Babur's memoirs are the first--and until relatively recent times, the only--true autobiography in Islamic literature." The Baburnama tells the tale of the prince's struggle first to assert and defend his claim to the throne of Samarkand and the region of the Fergana Valley. After being driven out of Samarkand in 1501 by the Uzbek Shaibanids, he ultimately sought greener pastures, first in Kabul and then in northern India, where his descendants were the Babar Mughul (Mughal) dynasty ruling in Delhi until 1858.
The memoirs offer a highly educated Central Asian Muslim's observations of the world in which he moved. There is much on the political and military struggles of his time but also extensive descriptive sections on the physical and human geography, the flora and fauna, nomads in their pastures and urban environments enriched by the architecture, music and Persian and Turkic literature patronized by the Timurids. The selections here--all taken from his material on Fergana--have been chosen to provide a range of such observations from the material he recorded at the end of the 1490s and in the first years of the sixteenth century. It should be of some interest to compare his description of Samarkand with that of the outsider, Clavijo, from a century earlier.
This translation is based on that by Annette Beveridge, The Babur-nama in English, 2 v. (London, 1921), but with substantial stylistic revision to eliminate the worst of her awkward syntax. I have chosen to use Beveridge's indications of distances in miles rather than confuse the reader with the variable measure of distance provided in the original. An elegantly produced modern translation is that by Wheeler M. Thackston, The Baburnama: Babar History, Prince and Emperor (Washington, D. C., etc., The Smithsonian Institution and Oxford University Press, 1996). I have consulted Thackston and occasionally used his readings and renderings of the place names where the Beveridge translation was obscure. I would warn readers that my editing of the text has been done in some haste; further work would be needed to improve the style and standardize usages.
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Very good information.
Shah Sharaf Barlas
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