Studies on classical Persian poetry

Bürgel, Johann Christoph. 2013. Nachtigallen an Gottes Thron: Studien zur persischen Dichtung. Edited by Mehr Ali Newid and Peter-Arnold Mumm. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
To date, only a few pioneers have made classical Persian poetry and philosophy accessible to the occidental eye. During the 17th and 18th centuries, influential travellers brought goods, travelogues and translations back from Persia. Around 1800, enthusiasm for the oriental brought about more translations as well as more systematic research. In 1812, Joseph v. Hammer(-Purgstall) translated the Dīvān of Ḥāfeẓ. It is with him that Friedrich Rückert studied Persian and went on to set new standards in oriental philology and translation. Despite the tremendous contributions of the chairs in Iranian Studies which were subsequently founded in Europe, the wealth of Persian literature has hardly been exhausted.

Johann Christoph Bürgel was born in Silesia in 1931, received his doctorate in Göttingen in 1960 and was director of the Institute of Islamic Studies in Bern from 1970 to 1995. With his research method, characterised by scientific accuracy and a creative gift for language, he continued the tradition of Rückert and laid cornerstones for today’s Iranian Studies. He received numerous awards for his research as well as his translations.

This volume combines selected papers by distinguished orientalists from 1978 to 2008, dealing with Neẓāmī, ʿAṭṭār, Ḥāfeẓ, Rūmī, Sanāʾī and other Persian mystics and poets, as well as their European reception.

The Gesellschaft der Freunde islamischer Kunst und Kultur, which aims to promote the encounter with the culture of the orient, has sponsored the publication of this volume. It functions as a small compendium for the professional world and as an introduction to the many rich facets of Iranian Literary Studies for the broader public.

The topics discussed in the papers included in this volume are: romantic narrative literature, its poetic forms and social background in mediaeval Iran; puns, ambiguities and linguistic reflection in ʿAṭṭār, Ḥāfeẓ and Rūmī; poetology and rhetoric, fictionality and realism in Persian poetry; eroticism, mysticism, magic and conceptions of the soul; anthropological-philosophical music theory in Persian scholarly literature, with productive and interpretative reference to Plato and Aristotle; adaptation strategies in Goethe, Rückert and Platen, adaptation of subject matter and motifs in Turandot and Tristan and Isolde.

An index has been added in order to make this collection a reference work for professional researchers, a tool for students and a fascinating read for the interested layperson.

Johann Christoph Bürgel, born in Gottesberg, Silesia in 1931. 1954 to 1960 Islamic studies at Frankfurt am Main, Ankara, Bonn, and Göttingen. 1960 PhD in Göttingen, Georg August University , thesis on the court correspondence of ’Adud ad-Daula. 1969 Habilitation (inauguration of university teaching career). 1970 Invitation to occupy the recently founded chair of Islamic studies at the university of Bern (coordination with Fribourg). Since then director of the chair of Islamic studies, retirement 1995.