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Persian literature comprises oral compositions and written texts in the Persian language and it is one of the world's oldest literatures.
Table of contents
But in general the use of Arabic declined; Persian developed rapidly to become the vehicle of a great literature, and before, long spread its influence to neighboring lands. In India, Persian language and poetry became the vogue with the ruling classes, and at the court of the Moghul emperor Akbar Persian was adopted as the official language; spreading thence and fusing later with Hindi, it gave rise to the Urdu tongue. To the west of Iran, Persian heavily influenced the language and literature of Turkey; Turkish verse was based on Persian models as regards form and style, and borrowed an extensive vocabulary.
A notable feature of Persian is the small extent to which it has changed over the thousand years or more of its existence as a literary language.
Thus the poems of Roudaki , the first Persian poet of note, who died in the year CE, are perfectly intelligible to the modem reader. Persian literature too has a number of noteworthy characteristics, the most striking of which is the exceptional prominence of poetry. Until quite recently there was practically no drama, and no novels were written; prose works were mostly confined to history, geography, philosophy, religion, ethics and politics, and it was poetry that formed the chief outlet for artistic expression.
Classical Persian literature was produced almost entirely under royal patronage whence the frequency of panegyric verse. An influence of at least equal strength was religion, and in particular Sufism, which inspired the remarkably high proportion of mystical poetry. Persian Poetry Classical Persian poetry is always rhymed.
The principal verse forms are the Qasideh, Masnavi, Qazal and Ruba'i. The qasida or ode is a long poem in monorhyme, usually of a panegyric, didactic or religious nature; the masnavi, written in rhyming couplets, is employed for heroic, romantic, or narrative verse; the ghazal ode or lyric is a comparatively short poem, usually amorous or mystical and varying from four to sixteen couplets, all on one rhyme. A convention of the ghazal is the introduction, in the last couplet, of the poet's pen name takhallus.
The ruba'i is a quatrain with a particular metre, and a collection of quatrains is called "Ruba'iyyat" the plural of ruba'i. Finally, a collection of a poet's ghazals and other verse, arranged alphabetically according to the rhymes, is known as a divan. A word may not be out of place here on the peculiar difficulties of interpreting Persian poetry to the western reader. To the pitfalls common to all translations from verse must be added, in the case of Persian poetry, such special difficulties as the very free use of Sufi imagery, the frequent literary, Koranic and other references and allusions, and the general employment of monorhyme, a form highly effective in Persian but unsuited to most other languages.
But most important of all is the fact that the poetry of Persia depends to a greater degree than that of most other nations on beauty of language for its effects. This is why much of the great volume of "qasidas in praise of princes" can still be read with pleasure in the original, though It is largely unsuited to translation. In short, the greatest charm of Persian poetry lies, as Sir E. Denison Ross remarked, in its language and its music, and consequently the reader of a translation "has perforce to forego the essence of the matter".
In the following brief sketch of the vast field of Persian literature we cannot hope to do more than mention a few of the most eminent authors, and to devote a paragraph or two each to the most famous of all. Early Literature Though existing fragments of Persian verse are believed to date from as early as the eighth century CE, the history of Persian literature proper begins with the lesser dynasties of the ninth and tenth centuries that emerged with the decline of the Caliphate.
The most important of these were the Samanids, who established at Bokhara the first of many brilliant courts that were to patronize learning and letters. Here Abu Ali Sina, better known in the west as Avicenna, developed the medicine and philosophy of ancient Greece, and wrote numerous works that were to exercise considerable influence not only in the East but in Europe -where, translated into Latin, they were in use as late as the seventeenth century.
Avicenna wrote mostly in Arabic, but composed an encyclopaedia -- the Danish Nameh-ye Ala'i - in Persian. The most famous of the court poets were Rudaki and Daqiqi. Rudaki, generally regarded as the first of the great Persian poets, wrote a very large quantity of verse, of which but little has survived.
His style direct, simple and unadorned - was to appear unpolished to some of the over-elaborate versifiers of later ages, but appeals more to modem tastes. Daqiqi, a composer of epics, was commissioned to write a work on the ancient kings of Persia, but only completed a thousand couplets before his death. Some of these were later incorporated in the celebrated Shahnameh. The Ghaznavid and early Seljuq Periods It is said that four hundred poets were attached to the court of Sultan Mahmoud; of these, the most notable were Unsuri, the greatest of Mahmoud's panegyrists, followed by Farrukhi, Manouchehri and Asadi.
In the 19th century, Persian literature experienced dramatic change and entered a new era. The beginning of this change was exemplified by an incident in the midth century at the court of Nasereddin Shah , when the reform-minded prime minister, Amir Kabir , chastised the poet Habibollah Qa'ani for "lying" in a panegyric qasida written in Kabir's honor. Kabir saw poetry in general and the type of poetry that had developed during the Qajar period as detrimental to "progress" and "modernization" in Iranian society, which he believed was in dire need of change.
Khan also addressed a need for a change in Persian poetry in literary terms as well, always linking it to social concerns. The new Persian literary movement cannot be understood without an understanding of the intellectual movements among Iranian philosophical circles. Given the social and political climate of Persia Iran in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which led to the Persian Constitutional Revolution of —, the idea that change in poetry was necessary became widespread. Many argued that Persian poetry should reflect the realities of a country in transition.
This idea was propagated by notable literary figures such as Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda and Abolqasem Aref , who challenged the traditional system of Persian poetry in terms of introducing new content and experimentation with rhetoric, lexico-semantics, and structure. Dehkhoda, for instance, used a lesser-known traditional form, the mosammat, to elegize the execution of a revolutionary journalist.
Some researchers argue that the notion of "sociopolitical ramifications of esthaetic changes" led to the idea of poets "as social leaders trying the limits and possibilities of social change". An important movement in modern Persian literature centered on the question of modernization and Westernization and whether these terms are synonymous when describing the evolution of Iranian society.
It can be argued that almost all advocates of modernism in Persian literature, from Akhundzadeh, Kermani, and Malkom Khan to Dehkhoda, Aref, Bahar, and Taqi Rafat , were inspired by developments and changes that had occurred in Western, particularly European, literatures. Such inspirations did not mean blindly copying Western models but, rather, adapting aspects of Western literature and changing them to fit the needs of Iranian culture.
Following the pioneering works of Ahmad Kasravi , Sadeq Hedayat , Moshfeq Kazemi and many others, the Iranian wave of comparative literature and literary criticism reached a symbolic crest with the emergence of Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub , Shahrokh Meskoob , Houshang Golshiri and Ebrahim Golestan. Persian literature in Afghanistan has also experienced a dramatic change during the last century. At the beginning of the 20th century, Afghanistan was confronted with economic and social change, which sparked a new approach to literature. Saraj was not the first such publication in the country, but in the field of journalism and literature it launched a new period of change and modernization.
Saraj not only played an important role in journalism, it also gave new life to literature as a whole and opened the way for poetry to explore new avenues of expression through which personal thoughts took on a more social colour. In AH , after months of cultural stagnation, a group of writers founded the Herat Literary Circle.
A year later, another group calling itself the Kabul Literary Circle was founded in the capital. Both groups published regular magazines dedicated to culture and Persian literature. Both, especially the Kabul publication, had little success in becoming venues for modern Persian poetry and writing. In time, the Kabul publication turned into a stronghold for traditional writers and poets, and modernism in Dari literature was pushed to the fringes of social and cultural life.
The first two received the honorary title Malek ul Shoara King of Poets. Khalili, the third and youngest, was drawn toward the Khorasan style of poetry instead of the usual Hendi style. He was also interested in modern poetry and wrote a few poems in a more modern style with new aspects of thought and meaning.
The traditionalists in Kabul refused to publish it because it was not written in the traditional rhyme. They criticized Khalili for modernizing his style. Very gradually new styles found their way into literature and literary circles despite the efforts of traditionalists.
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The first book of new poems was published in the year AH , and in AH , a collection of modern Persian Dari poetry was published in Kabul. Each had his own share in modernizing Persian poetry in Afghanistan. Poets like Mayakovsky , Yase Nien and Lahouti an Iranian poet living in exile in Russia exerted a special influence on the Persian poets in Afghanistan.
The influence of Iranians e. Farrokhi Yazdi and Ahmad Shamlou on the newly established Afghan prose and poetry, especially in the second half of the 20th century, must also be taken into consideration. The new poetry in Tajikistan is mostly concerned with the way of life of people and is revolutionary.
From the s until the advent of new poetry in France, Asia and Latin America, the impact of the modernization drive was strong. In the s, modern Iranian poetry and that of Mohammad Iqbal Lahouri made a profound impression in Tajik poetry.
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This period is probably the richest and most prolific period for the development of themes and forms in Persian poetry in Tajikistan. Some Tajik poets were mere imitators, and one can easily see the traits of foreign poets in their work. Only two or three poets were able to digest the foreign poetry and compose original poetry. In Tajikistan, the format and pictorial aspects of short stories and novels were taken from Russian and other European literature.
Saeed Nafisi analyzed and edited several critical works. He is well known for his works on Rudaki and Sufi literature. Parviz Natel-Khanlari and Gholamhossein Yousefi , who belong to Nafisi's generation, were also involved in modern literature and critical writings. He did not follow the traditionalists, nor did he advocate the new.
A HISTORY OF PERSIAN LITERATURE
Instead, his approach accommodated the entire spectrum of creativity and expression in Persian literature. Another critic, Ahmad Kasravi , an experienced authority on literature, attacked the writers and poets whose works served despotism. Among these figures, Zarrinkoub held academic positions and had a reputation not only among the intelligentsia but also in academia. Besides his significant contribution to the maturity of Persian language and literature, Zarrinkoub boosted comparative literature and Persian literary criticism.
It is a pioneering work on the practice of Persian literary historiography and the emergence and development of Persian literature as a distinct institution in the early part of the 20th century. It contends that the exemplary status of Sabk-shinasi rests on the recognition of its disciplinary or institutional achievements.
Jalal Homaei , Badiozzaman Forouzanfar and his student, Mohammad Reza Shafiei-Kadkani , are other notable figures who have edited a number of prominent literary works. Critical analysis of Jami's works has been carried out by Ala Khan Afsahzad. His classic book won the prestigious award of Iran's Year Best book in the year Historically, the modern Persian short story has undergone three stages of development: In this period, the influence of the western literature on the Iranian writers and authors is obvious.
The new and modern approaches to writing is introduced and several genres have developed specially in the field of short story. The most popular trends are toward post-modern methods and speculative fiction. A few notable classical poets have arisen since the 19th century, among whom Mohammad Taghi Bahar and Parvin Etesami have been most celebrated. Mohammad Taghi Bahar had the title "king of poets" and had a significant role in the emergence and development of Persian literature as a distinct institution in the early part of the 20th century.
Parvin Etesami may be called the greatest Persian woman poet writing in the classical style. One of her remarkable series, called Mast va Hoshyar The Drunk and the Sober , won admiration from many of those involved in romantic poetry. Nima Yushij is considered the father of modern Persian poetry, introducing many techniques and forms to differentiate the modern from the old.
Nevertheless, the credit for popularizing this new literary form within a country and culture solidly based on a thousand years of classical poetry goes to his few disciples such as Ahmad Shamlou, who adopted Nima's methods and tried new techniques of modern poetry. The transformation brought about by Nima Youshij, who freed Persian poetry from the fetters of prosodic measures, was a turning point in a long literary tradition. It broadened the perception and thinking of the poets that came after him.
Nima offered a different understanding of the principles of classical poetry. His artistry was not confined to removing the need for a fixed-length hemistich and dispensing with the tradition of rhyming but focused on a broader structure and function based on a contemporary understanding of human and social existence.
His aim in renovating poetry was to commit it to a "natural identity" and to achieve a modern discipline in the mind and linguistic performance of the poet. Nima held that the formal technique dominating classical poetry interfered with its vitality, vigor and progress. Although he accepted some of its aesthetic properties and extended them in his poetry, he never ceased to widen his poetic experience by emphasizing the "natural order" of this art.
What Nima Youshij founded in contemporary poetry, his successor Ahmad Shamlou continued. This allowed a more direct relationship between the poet and his or her emotional roots. Sepid poetry continues the poetic vision as Nima expressed it and avoids the contrived rules imposed on its creation. Nima Youshij paid attention to an overall harmonious rhyming and created many experimental examples to achieve this end. He offered an individual approach. Sepid poetry could not take root outside this teaching and its application.
According to Simin Behbahani , Sepid poetry did not receive general acceptance before Bijan Jalali 's works. He is considered the founder of Sepid poetry according to Behbahani. Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Customer reviews There are no customer reviews yet. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations.
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