Tag Archives: Literature

The Empires of the Near East and India

Khafipour, Hani. 2019. The empires of the Near East and India: Source studies of the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal literate communities. New York: Columbia University Press.

In the early modern world, the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal empires sprawled across a vast swath of the earth, stretching from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The diverse and overlapping literate communities that flourished in these three empires left a lasting legacy on the political, religious, and cultural landscape of the Near East and India. This volume is a comprehensive sourcebook of newly translated texts that shed light on the intertwined histories and cultures of these communities, presenting a wide range of source material spanning literature, philosophy, religion, politics, mysticism, and visual art in thematically organized chapters. Scholarly essays by leading researchers provide historical context for closer analyses of a lesser-known era and a framework for further research and debate. The volume aims to provide a new model for the study and teaching of the region’s early modern history that stands in contrast to the prevailing trend of examining this interconnected past in isolation.

Source: The Empires of the Near East and India | Columbia University Press

Becoming Zarathustra

Kellens, Jean. 2018. Becoming Zarathustra. In Hugh B. Urban & Greg Johnson (eds.), Irreverence and the sacred: Critical studies in the history of religions, 185–193. New York: Oxford University Press.

This chapter examines the role of ritual and sacrifice in the most sacred Zoroastrian literature, the Gâthâs in order to explore the complex relationship between the figure of Zarathustra and the human ritual officiant. The chapter presents a very Lincoln-ian sort of history of the field of Zoroastrian studies itself, interrogating the contexts and biases of particular scholars in their various readings and misreadings of the tradition. At the same time, it offers a new way of thinking about the figure of Zarathustra himself, who is best understood not as the semi-historical “founder” of Zoroastrianism but rather as the mythical personality into which the human officiant is himself transfigured through the ritual operations.

Ritual Formulae, Structures, and Activities in Vedic and Avestan Liturgies

Sadovski, Velizar. 2018. Ritual formulae, structures, and activities in Vedic and Avestan liturgies. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 71/1. 81134.

Die Arbeit präsentiert Untersuchungen zu einer Reihe von Begriffen aus dem Bereich des indoiranischen Kultus bzw. Rituals einerseits in ihrem Kontext innerhalb der vedischen und avestischen Ritualdichtung und -praxis und andererseits vom Standpunkt ihrer mythologischen Relevanz, insbesondere in Bezug auf ihre Rolle für die „Mythopoia“ in den Sakraltexten von Indern und Iraniern. So werden einerseits Personifikationen bzw. Deifikationen derartiger Kultbegriffe geschildert, andererseits verschiedene Mechanismen ihrer Kombinatorik auf syntagmatischer, intra-textueller Ebene (innerhalb des Kontexts eines liturgischen Hymnus/Vorgangs) bzw. auf inter-textueller Ebene, im Rahmen des Hypertexts der aus zahlreichen einzelnen Litaneien bestehenden Ritualhymnen und in den aus ganzen solchen Einzelliturgien bestehenden Ritualkomplexen dargestellt. – Der vorliegende Aufsatz entwickelt dabei die Idee über die fundamentale Rolle von Katalogen, Listen und Enumerationen als poetische, aber auch als mythologische und kosmologische Form: Basierend auf mehreren früheren Studien des Verfassers, die das Funktionieren solcher intertextuell verbundenen Textcorpora in der indoiranischen Ritualdichtung vor allem textlinguistisch, vom formalen, kompositionellen und kognitiven Standpunkt behandeln, gibt nun das Thema „Ritus im Mythos“ die Gelegenheit, die katalogisch aufgebauten Formen von Litaneien und Liturgien in den vedischen Sakraltexten vom RV an (insbesondere in den RV-Khilas und dem Yajurveda) und in der ‚Langen Liturgie‘ des Avesta sowie ihre Bedeutung sowohl zur rituellen „Wieder-Erschaffung des Universums“ mit jedem Kultakt und -text als auch zur Mythologisierung entsprechender Begriffe mit rituellem Inhalt zu untersuchen.

The Frawardīn Yašt

Malandra, William W. 2018. The Frawardīn Yašt. Introduction, translation, text, commentary and glossary (Ancient Iran Series 7). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
 
From the Preface of this volume:
 
With the encouragement of Professor Touraj Daryaee, I have undertaken a new edition of my old The Fravaši Yašt: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary, diss. University of Pennsylvania, 1971 [University Microfilms, Ann Arbor]. At the time when I wrote the dissertation I was very much under the influence of W. B. Henning’s “The Disintegration of the Avesta Studies” and the then recent book by I. Gershevitch The Avestan Hymn to Mithra. I expressed my misgivings concerning Henning’s stress-accent theory in my Preface, but was not prepared to tackle the issue, and thus treated the text as if it were prose. In the years since it has become abundantly clear that much of the Yašts were originally composed in verse, as best articulated by K. F. Geldner in his Über die Metrik des jüngeren Avesta (1877). Thus, Part II of the present work is devoted to a study of metrics and their importance for understanding the formation of the Yašts and particularly the Frawardīn. In order to make manifest the structure of Avestan poetry I have laid out the translation and text according to my construction of the Avestan.
 
 

The Shahnameh: the Persian epic in world literature

Dabashi, Hamid. 2019. The Shahnameh: the Persian epic in world literature. New York: Columbia University Press.

The Shahnameh, an epic poem recounting the foundation of Iran across mythical, heroic, and historical ages, is the beating heart of Persian literature and culture. Composed by Abu al-Qasem Ferdowsi over a thirty-year period and completed in the year 1010, the epic has entertained generations of readers and profoundly shaped Persian culture, society, and politics. For a millennium, Iranian and Persian-speaking people around the globe have read, memorized, discussed, performed, adapted, and loved the poem.

In this book, Hamid Dabashi brings the Shahnameh to renewed global attention, encapsulating a lifetime of learning and teaching the Persian epic for a new generation of readers. Dabashi insightfully traces the epic’s history, authorship, poetic significance, complicated legacy of political uses and abuses, and enduring significance in colonial and postcolonial contexts. In addition to explaining and celebrating what makes the Shahnameh such a distinctive literary work, he also considers the poem in the context of other epics, such as the Aeneid and the Odyssey, and critical debates about the concept of world literature. Arguing that Ferdowsi’s epic and its reception broached this idea long before nineteenth-century Western literary criticism, Dabashi makes a powerful case that we need to rethink the very notion of “world literature” in light of his reading of the Persian epic.

About the Author

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is a founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Among his most recent books are The World of Persian Literary Humanism (2015) and Persophilia: Persian Culture on the Global Scene (2016).

Persian Literature from Outside Iran

Perry, John (ed.). 2018. Persian Literature from Outside Iran: The Indian Subcontinent, Anatolia, Central Asia, and in Judeo-Persian (History of Persian Literature IX). London: I.B. Tauris.

After the fall of the Sassanian Empire and with it the gradual decline of Middle Persian as a literary language, New Persian literature emerged in Transoxiana, beyond the frontiers of present-day Iran, and was written and read in India even before it became firmly established in cities such as Isfahan on the Iranian plateau. Over the course of a millennium (ca. 900-1900 CE), Persian established itself as a contact vernacular and an international literary language from Sarajevo to Madras, with Persian poetry serving as a universal cultural cachet for literati both Muslim and non-Muslim. The role of Persian, beyond its early habitat of Iran and other Islamic lands, has long been recognized: European scholars first came to Persian via Turkey and British orientalists via India. Yet the universal popularity of poets such as Sa’di and Hafez of Shiraz and the ultimate rise of Iran to claim the centre of Persian writing and scholarship led to a relative neglect of the Persianate periphery until recently. This volume contributes to the scholarship of the Persianate fringe with the aid of the abundant material (notably in Tajik, Uzbek and Russian) long neglected by Western scholars and the perspectives of a new generation on this complex and important aspect of Persian literature.

Table of contents

Introduction: Persian Language and Literature Beyond Iran and Islam (J. R. Perry)

PART 1: PERSIAN LITERATURE IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT

  • Chapter 1: Establishment of Centers of Indo-Persian Court Poetry (Alyssa Gabbay)
  • Chapter 2: Teaching Of Persian In South Asia (T. Rahman)
  • Chapter 3: The Persian Language Sciences in India (J. R. Perry)
  • Chapter 4: Persian Historiography in India (B. Auer)
  • Chapter 5: Persian Literature of the Parsis in India (J. K. Choksy)
  • Chapter 6: Ismaili Literature in Persian in Central and South Asia (F. Daftary)
  • Chapter 7: Persian Medical Literature in South Asia (F. Speziale)
  • Chapter 8: Inscriptions and Art-Historical Writing (Y. Porter)

PART 2: PERSIAN LITERATURE IN ANATOLIA AND THE OTTOMAN REALMS, POST-TIMURID CENTRAL ASIA, TAJIKISTAN, MODERN AFGHANISTAN; JUDEO-PERSIAN LITERATURE

  • Chapter 9: Persian Literature in Anatolia and the Ottoman Realms (S. Kim)
  • Chapter 10: Persian Literature in Central Asia under Uzbek Rule (Ertugrul Ökten)
  • Chapter 11: Tajik Literature (K. Hitchins)
  • Chapter 12: Persian Literature in Modern Afghanistan (R. Farhadi And J. R. Perry)
  • Chapter 13: Judeo-Persian Literature (Vera Basch Moreen)

The Reception of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Works in the Islamicate World

Hubert, Thibaut d’ & Alexandre Papas (eds.). 2018. Jāmī in regional contexts. The reception of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s works in the Islamicate world, ca. 9th/15th-14th/20th Century (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section One, the Near and Middle East 128). Leiden; Boston: Brill.
Jāmī in Regional Contexts: The Reception of ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Works in the Islamicate World is the first attempt to present in a comprehensive manner how ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 898/1492), a most influential figure in the Persian-speaking world, reshaped the canons of Islamic mysticism, literature and poetry and how, in turn, this new canon prompted the formation of regional traditions. As a result, a renewed geography of intellectual practices emerges as well as questions surrounding authorship and authority in the making of vernacular cultures. Specialists of Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Georgian, Malay, Pashto, Sanskrit, Urdu, Turkish, and Bengali thus provide a unique connected account of the conception and reception of Jāmī’s works throughout the Eurasian continent and maritime Southeast Asia.

Essays on Persian Poetry in Honor of Dick Davis

Seyed-Ghorab, Ali-Asghar (ed.). 2018. The layered heart: Essays on Persian poetry, a celebration in honor of Dick Davis. Washington, D.C: Mage Publishers.
The Layered Heart : Essays on Persian Poetry is published in celebration of the poet and scholar Dick Davis, dubbed “our pre-eminent translator from Persian” by The Washington Post. Edited by Ali-Asghar Seyed-Ghorab, Associate Professor of Persian at Leiden University, the volume includes twenty-one essays about Persian culture and literature, ranging from classical Persian poetry to modern literary topics. Written by foremost scholars in the field, each of the essays is original and ground-breaking either in content or in methodology, while together they encompass a broad sweep of Iranian history, from pre-Islamic times to the present. They offer a fascinating, multi-faceted view of the Persian classics – from poetry in praise of wine, and the portrayal of love in Persian-European medieval romances, to an examination of Ferdowsi’s monumental epic, the Shahnameh, its connection with the Persian oral tradition and its later reception in Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Europe. Modern topics include an analysis of Lahuti’s letter poem to Joseph Stalin, published for the first time in Persian and English, the celebrated novel My Uncle Napoleon, and trends in poetry before and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Table of Contents
  • Ehsan Yarshater: “Voyages in Literature”
  • Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak: “Continuity and Creativity: Models of Change in Persian Poetry, Classical and Modern”
  • Saeed Honarmand: “Between the Water and the Wall: The Power of Love in Medieval Persian Romance”
  • Christine van Ruymbeke: “Wretched King Mobad Loses the War of Love”
  • Asghar Seyed-Ghorab: “Of Love and Loyalty: The Middle English Floris and Blancheflour and the Persian Warqa and Golshāh”
  • Kamran Talattof: “What Kind of Wine Did Rudaki Desire? Samanids’ Search for Cultural and National Identity”
  • Paul Losensky: “Song of the Cupbearer by Mohammad Sūfī Māzandarānī”
  • Saghi Gazerani: “Zahhak’s Story and History”
  • H.E. Chehabi: “Wrestling in the Shahnameh and Later Persian Epics”
  • Sunil Sharma: “Heroes, Husbands, and Rhino Hunters: Sekandar and Bahram Gur in the Shahnameh”
  • Abbas Amanat: “Shahnameh-ye Naderi and the Revival of Epic Poetry in Post-Safavid Iran”
  • Reza Shaghaghi Zarghamee: “From Scythia to Sistan: Reconciling the Shahnameh and Herodotus to Discover the Origins of the Rostam Legend”
  • Olga M. Davidson: “On the Sources of the Shahnameh”
  • Franklin Lewis: “Shifting Allegiances: Primordial Relationships and How They Change in the Shahnameh”
  • Charles Melville: “The Shahnameh in India: Tārīkh-i Dilgushā-yi Shamshīr Khānī”
  • Margaret A. Mills:  “Kok Kohzad in Afghanistan: Local Knowledge and Shahnameh Characters”
  • Firuza Melville: “Side-Saddle Tazmin, or, the Post-Shahnameh for Victorian Children”
  • Natalia Chalisova: “Poet and Ruler: The Case of Dāstān-e gol, Lahuti’s Poem for Stalin”
  • Fatemeh Shams: “From Revolution to Silence: The Political and Literary Life of Qaysar Aminpur”
  • Saeedeh Shahnahpur: “Literature Beyond Borders: Modern Persian Novels in English Translation, The Case of Pezeshkzād’s My Uncle Napoleon”
  • John Walbridge: “Astrolabe Hunting in the Punjab”

Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral Texts and Testimony

Stewart, Sarah. 2018. Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral texts and testimony (Part 1: Urban contexts: Kerman, Tehran, Ahwaz, Esfahan, Shiraz), vol. 1. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 17). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Voices from Zoroastrian Iran (Volumes I and II) is the result of an oral studies research project that maps the remaining Zoroastrian communities in Iran and explores what has happened to their religious lives and social structures since the Revolution of 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic.
Interviews included in Volume 1 are with Zoroastrians from the urban centres of Tehrān, Kermān, Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān. Participants refer to community leaders, historical figures, local events, teachers and religious texts that have shaped their views and understanding of the religion. They also address the impact of recent history upon their lives. The religion itself is presented as understood by those interviewed, drawn largely from the interpretations of Iranian scholars and scholar-priests, as opposed to those of predominantly western scholars. A chapter in the book is devoted to a survey of the main Iranian Zoroastrian religious observances as well as some popular customs. As a result of the new Constitution, the return to shari ‘a and the eight-year war with Iraq that followed the Revolution, the relationship between Zoroastrians and the state changed. The new political environment began to shape the religious and social identities of the next generation through Zoroastrian institutions such as the anjomans (councils) as well as those established by the government of the Islamic Republic.
The interviews for this book span a period of living memory that reflects both pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. The views expressed are informed by the changes that took place during that time and throw light on subjects as diverse as education, emigration, conversion and religious reform. The vol. 2 is planed to come out in 2019.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Background and Context: Religion
  • Chapter 2 Devotional Life: Customs and Observances
  • Chapter 3 Background and Context: Society
  • Chapter 4 Kermān
  • Chapter 5 Tehrān
  • Chapter 6 Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān
  • Conclusions

Read the detailed table of contents here.

Polemical Aspects in an Early Judeo-Persian Bible Exegesis

Haim, Ofir. 2018. Polemical Aspects in an Early Judeo-Persian Bible Exegesis: The Commentary on the Story of  Ḥannah (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). Entangled  Religions 6(Special Issue: Historical Engagements and Interreligious Encounters-Jews and Christians in Premodern and Early Modern Asia and Africa). 163–200.
The article discusses the attitude towards Christians, Muslims, and the “foreign sciences” based on one of the only extant polemical texts written in Early Judeo-Persian—a passage from an unpublished commentary on story of Ḥannah preserved in the National Library of Russia (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). In addition, the article attempts to define the relation of this commentary to the broader intellectual environment of the medieval Jewish world. A close examination of this passage reveals a possible connection to Karaite exegetical work written in Judeo-Arabic during the tenth century, particularly those of Yefet ben ʿEli. Therefore, the article may serve as a case study of intellectual contact and transmission of knowledge between different Jewish groups in the Islamicate world.