Online chat

Do you have any question?



A discussion of the role of literature in Iranian culture should begin with

Several caveats. First of all, the discussion in this chapter is limited to Persian

Literature. There are, of course, other languages in Iran that have a literary

tradition, but it is not possible to try to deal with them here. This is not to

demean or neglect their importance in any way, but it can perhaps be justified

not only by necessity but on the grounds that Persian literature, unlike those

other literatures, is the common heritage of all Iranians: Not many Persian

speakers would be at all familiar with, say, Azeri Turkish literature, but it is

a safe bet that an educated Azeri would be very knowledgeable about Persian

literature and take as much pride in it as his Persian compatriot.

At the same time, it has to be remembered that Persian literature is international

in character and not confi ned to the nation-state of Iran. The great mystic poet Jalâl-od-Din Rumi (1207–73) was born in Balkh (nowpart of Afghanistan) and spent most of his life in Konya (in modern Turkey and then ruled by Saljuq Turks).Most of his poetry was written in Persian, and the greatest of hisworks, the long didactic poem is known as the Masnavi-e Ma‘navi (“Profound

Couplets. Certainly, no comprehensive survey of Persian literature

could ignore such an author, any more than one of English language

literature could exclude Robert Burns or Ernest Hemingway. As a practical

matter, however, such an approach would vastly expand the scope of this

chapter, which will have to concentrate on authors with closer connections

to Iran proper. Another great poet of English literature is Khwāja Shamsu d-Dīn Muhammad Hafez-e Shiraz, who is known by his pen name, Hafez, was a Persian poet. His collected works composed of series of Persian literature are to be found in the homes of most people in Iran who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentaries and interpretations, influencing post-fourteenth century Persian writing more than any other author. Themes of his sonnets are the beloved, faith, and exposing hypocrisy. His influence in the lives of Iranians can be found in “Hafez readings” (fāl-e hāfez, ‎), frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art and Persian calligraphy. His tomb is often visited at any time of a year. Adaptations, imitations and translations of Hafez’ poems exist in all major languages. Finally, it should be kept in mind that mass literacy in Iran is a very recent

Phenomenon. For most of its history, literature was produced by and for

a small elite, and this has affected its character in many ways. Yet some of

this literature definitely had a mass impact, especially poetry, which was particularly

susceptible to being memorized and recited at public and private

gatherings. At the same time, the country has produced a vast amount of folk

literature, perhaps the best guide to key features of authentic Iranian culture.

In more recent years, increased literacy rates and contact with non-Iranian

literatures have dramatically altered both the genres and the nature of Persian