SKELETONS AND DEMONS WAS THE VERY FIRST IMAGERY – ON THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF SAADAT HASSAN MANTO

SKELETONS AND DEMONS WAS THE VERY FIRST IMAGERY
ON THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF SAADAT HASSAN MANTO

Sar guzashat by S H Minto
Sar guzashat by S H Minto

Destined to remain with him for rest of his life

Mantos English Signature
Mantos English Signature

It is said that on the suggestion of Abdul Bari Alig, Saadat Hassan Manto started translating macabre writings. At the age of 21 years, his first book was published in Lahore in 1933, and I wonder if anyone remembers even seeing it. It had skeletons and demons on it being the tale of a man destined to die on the gallows. It must be in some archives but I had not seen any image of it. So when I came across such an image, I thought it best to share it with others as an historical aesthetics development in the life of an anti-hero of the region.

Hugo Condemned by John Heartfield
Hugo Condemned by John Heartfield

Who designed the cover? One really does not know and the book says nothing except that the cover was printed at Victoria Press, Lahore. There is an introduction by the translator as he calls himself Saadat Hassan Manto Amritsari, resident of Kocha Wakeelan, Amritsar. He thanks his friend Abdul Bari and dedicates the translation to the Daughter of the Dying man. Victor Hugo’s debate about the death sentence is discussed in the introduction. Our said copy has the signature of the translator as it is given to Maulana Hamid Ali Khan as a present.

Last Day of a Condemned man
Last Day of a Condemned man

One of the original covers for Victor Hugo’s book was designed by John Heartfield and it is not as macabre as our published version in Lahore. From which version Manto drew his inspiration we do not know. The films of Lon Chaney were there as well as Jinn masks being sold in Amritsar and Lahore for children. The role of modern media remains in confusing the public with clear visions of their existence.

Lon Chaney the visual demon
Lon Chaney the visual demon

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