While preparing this study, I was most fortunate in having the help and encouragement of C. M. Naim, my chief advisor, and of my other teachers at the University of Chicago: Professors K. C. Bahl, Bernard S. Cohn, Colin P. Masica, Donald J. Nelson, A. K. Ramanujan, and Norman H. Zide. All were generous with their time, and the range of their knowledge was invaluable on widening my own perspective on this literature.

    Maureen L. P. Patterson and Michael C. Seadle, of Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, provided a permanent home for most of the qissas and other printed literature originally acquired for this study. Their financial and moral support made it possible for me to prepare and catalogue-- in 1978-79, while I was writing my dissertation-- a great deal of material for a new special pamphlet collection. In addition, they arranged the microfilming of selected qissas and some Urdu dastan literature, including the multi-volume Naval Kishor version of Tilism-e hoshruba. Thanks to their work, scholars will now have much better access to qissa and dastan literature, in both Urdu and Hindi, than they have had in the past.

    I was also lucky to find good friends and counsellors in Delhi, especially Professor Gopi Chand Narang, then Head of the Department of Urdu, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, then Director of the Bureau for the Promotion of Urdu, Government of India. Both gave me many kinds of intellectual and practical help, and I owe them a great deal. My debt to the American Institute of Indian Studies is also considerable: the Institute provided not only the research fellowship which permitted me to spend a year (1977-78) in India, but also extra book-buying funds, unfailing moral support, and invaluable practical help. Dr. D. N. Panigrahi of the Nehru Memorial Library was kind enough to arrange for the quick and efficient microfilming of a number of borrowed texts.

    I owe special thanks to my friends from the world of qissa publishing, and above all to Shri Vishnu Prasad Agrawal and the members of his family, owners of the Shyamkashi Press in Mathura, who made me welcome in their home for more than a month and gave me full access to their remarkable collection of late nineteenth-century printed popular literature. Shri Radha Ballabh Gaur of the N. S. Sarma Gaur Book Depot, Hathras, was equally hospitable and helpful, especially on the history of sangit publishing. The people at Dehati Pustak Bhandar and Hind Pustak Bhandar in Delhi, at Hindi Pustakalay and Kisan Pustak Bhandar in Mathura, and at Shri Loknath Pustakalay in Calcutta, were among the many who answered numerous questions, helped me find old texts, and generally facilitated my work. Maulvi Niyaz ud-Din of the Kutubkhanah Anjuman Taraqqi-e Urdu, in Delhi, helped immensely with book-buying and book-binding, and was cordial and hospitable in every way. The kindness of these and other friends made my research enjoyable not only intellectually, but also personally.

= = = = = = =

    Fourteen years after the original work for this study was done, I revisited its territory both geographically and intellectually. A number of the same helpers renewed their generosity. The American Institute of Indian Studies provided a summer research fellowship (1991), and many of the same book dealers assisted me in my work, especially Maulvi Niyaz ud-Din and his son Nizam ud-Din of the Kutubkhanah Anjuman Taraqqi-e Urdu, and the people at the Hind Pustak Bhandar and at Ratan and Co. in Delhi. The India International Centre provided, as always, ideal living and working conditions during my stays there, and offered me the chance to give a talk about my qissa work which was followed by a most interesting discussion. Not only old friends like Gopi Chand Narang and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, but also newer friends like Narayani Gupta and Meenakshi Mukherjee, provided useful ideas and insights.

    Anyone who studies ephemera must be concerned with preservation, and anyone concerned with preservation must be in need of substantial help from libraries. In this area I have been most fortunate:  my dear friends David Magier, Head of Area Studies and South Asia Librarian of the Columbia University Library, and James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia of Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, are not only extremely capable colleagues but also a real joy to work with. I especially thank David Magier and his greatly overqualified assistant, Peter Banos, for giving me moral support when I faced the trauma of turning over the whole of my cherished collection for microfilming. I also thank the capable staff at the Center for Research Libraries, in Chicago, for tolerating my non-professional cataloguing and preparation procedures.

    The South Asia Microform Project (S.A.M.P.) deserves to be thanked both collectively and in its many individual parts, because so many people share in its work, and so many of them have been exceptionally kind and helpful. S.A.M.P. has supported my various microfilming projects for many years, and the new popular literature preservation project now under way is only the latest venture. It is an invaluable research tool for us now, and as time passes it will be even more precious to scholars of the future.

Frances W. Pritchett
Columbia University

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