Persian literature

Persian literature

Overview

Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 including present-day Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 as well as regions of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 where the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 has historically been the national language. For instance, Molana (Rumi), one of Persia's best-loved poets, born in Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

 (in what is now Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

), wrote in Persian, and lived in Konya
Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

 then the capital of the Seljuks.The Ghaznavids conquered large territories in Central and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and adopted Persian as their court language.
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Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 including present-day Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 as well as regions of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 where the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 has historically been the national language. For instance, Molana (Rumi), one of Persia's best-loved poets, born in Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

 (in what is now Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

), wrote in Persian, and lived in Konya
Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

 then the capital of the Seljuks.The Ghaznavids conquered large territories in Central and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and adopted Persian as their court language. There is thus Persian literature from Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 and other parts of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. Not all this literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 is written in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, as some consider works written by ethnic Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 in other languages, such as Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, to be included. At the same time, not all literature written in Persian is written by ethnic Persians/Iranians. Particularly Indic and Turkic poets and writers have also used the Persian language in the environment of Persianate
Persianate
A Persianate/Persified society is a society that is either based on, or strongly influenced by the Persian language, culture, literature, art, and/or identity....

 cultures.

Described as one of the great literatures of mankind, Persian literature has its roots in surviving works of Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

 and Old Persian, the latter of which date back as far as 522 BCE (the date of the earliest surviving Achaemenid inscription, the Behistun Inscription
Behistun Inscription
The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون...

). The bulk of the surviving Persian literature, however, comes from the times following the Islamic conquest of Persia
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

 circa 650 CE. After the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

s came to power (750 CE), the Persians became the scribes and bureaucrats of the Islamic empire and, increasingly, also its writers and poets. The New Persian literature arose and flourished in Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 and Transoxiana
Transoxiana
Transoxiana is the ancient name used for the portion of Central Asia corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southern Kyrgystan and southwest Kazakhstan. Geographically, it is the region between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers...

 because of political reasons - the early Iranian dynasties such as Tahirids and Samanids were based in Khorasan.

Persians wrote both in Persian and Arabic; Persian predominated in later literary circles. Persian poets such as Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 , Sa'di
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

, Hafiz, Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

 and Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

 (perhaps the most well known in the West) are also known in the West and have influenced the literature of many countries

Pre-Islamic Persian literature


Very few literary works of Achaemenid Persia have survived, due partly to the destruction of the library at Persepolis. Most of what remains consists of the royal inscriptions of Achaemenid
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 kings, particularly Darius I (522–486 BC) and his son Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

. Many Zoroastrian writings were destroyed in the Islamic conquest of Persia
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

 in the 7th century. The Parsis who fled to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, however, took with them some of the books of the Zoroastrian canon, including some of the Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

 and ancient commentaries (Zend) thereof. Some works of Sassanid geography and travel also survived, albeit in Arabic translations.

No single text devoted to literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

 has survived from pre-Islamic Persia. However, some essays in Pahlavi, such as "Ayin-e name nebeshtan" (Principles of Writing Book) and "Bab-e edteda’I-ye" (Kalileh o Demneh
Panchatantra
The Panchatantra is an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in a frame story format. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sharma...

), have been considered as literary criticism (Zarrinkoub, 1959).

Some researchers have quoted the Sho'ubiyye as asserting that the pre-Islamic Persians had books on eloquence, such as 'Karvand'. No trace remains of such books. There are some indications that some among the Persian elite were familiar with Greek rhetoric and literary criticism (Zarrinkoub, 1947).

Persian literature of the medieval and pre-modern periods


While initially overshadowed by Arabic during the Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 and early Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliphates, New Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 soon became a literary language again of the Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

n lands. The rebirth of the language in its new form is often accredited to Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, Unsuri
Unsuri
Abul Qasim Hasan Unsuri Balkhi was a 10-11th century Persian poet.He is said to have been born in Balkh, today located in Afghanistan, and he eventually became a poet of the royal court, and was given the title Malik-us Shu'ara .His Divan is said to have contained 30,000 distichs, of which only...

, Daqiqi, Rudaki
Rudaki
Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki , also written as Rudagi , was a Persian poet, and is regarded as the first great literary genius of the Modern Persian, who composed poems in the "New Persian" alphabet. Rudaki is considered as a founder of Persian classical literature.He was born in 858 in...

, Taleb Amoli
Taleb Amoli
-Bioghraphy:Sayyed Mohammad Taleb-e-Amoliand died in Kashmir, India .Taleb was one of the most distressed poets in the Sibk e Hindi Indian poetry, and had taken refuge in India. He was very skilful in mathematics, astronomy, wisdom, and philosophy in Indian style...

 and their generation, as they used pre-Islamic nationalism as a conduit to revive the language and customs of ancient Persia.

In particular, says Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 himself in his Shahnama
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

:


بسی رنج بردم در این سال سی

عجم زنده کردم بدین پارسی


"For thirty years, I endured much pain and strife,

I awaken the Ajam
Ajam
Ajam is a word used in Persian and Arabic literature but with different concepts. Ajam in Arabic has two primary meanings: "non-Arab" and "Persian".literally it has other meaning "one who is illiterate in language", "silent", or "mute", and refers to non-Arabs in general, or people of Southern...

 with their true identity, Parsi
Parsi
Parsi or Parsee refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani community....

."

Poetry


So strong is the Persian aptitude for versifying everyday expressions that one can encounter poetry in almost every classical work, whether from Persian literature, science, or metaphysics. In short, the ability to write in verse form was a pre-requisite for any scholar. For example, almost half of Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

's medical writings are in verse.

Works of the early era of Persian poetry are characterized by strong court patronage, an extravagance of panegyrics, and what is known as سبک فاخر "exalted in style". The tradition of royal patronage began perhaps under the Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 era and carried over through the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 and Samanid courts into every major Persian dynasty. The Qasida
Qasida
The qaṣīdaᵗ , in Arabic: قصيدة, plural qasā'id, قــصــائـد; in Persian: قصیده , is a form of lyric poetry that originated in preIslamic Arabia...

 was perhaps the most famous form of panegyric used, though quatrain
Quatrain
A quatrain is a stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four lines of verse. Existing in various forms, the quatrain appears in poems from the poetic traditions of various ancient civilizations including Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and China; and, continues into the 21st century, where it is...

s such as those in Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

's Ruba'iyyat
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and of which there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám , a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer...

 are also widely popular.

Khorasani style, whose followers mostly were associated with Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

, is characterized by its supercilious diction, dignified tone, and relatively literate language. The chief representatives of this lyricism are Asjadi
Asjadi
Abu Nazar Abdul Aziz ibn Mansur Asjadi was a 10th century and 11th century royal Persian poet of Ghaznavid empire located in Ghazni province of current Afghanistan....

, Farrukhi Sistani
Farrukhi Sistani
Abul Hasan Ali ibn Julugh Farrukhi Sistani was a 10th- and 11th-century royal poet of Ghaznavids.As an ethnic Persian, he was one of the brightest masters of the panegyric school of poetry in the court of Mahmud of Ghazni...

, Unsuri
Unsuri
Abul Qasim Hasan Unsuri Balkhi was a 10-11th century Persian poet.He is said to have been born in Balkh, today located in Afghanistan, and he eventually became a poet of the royal court, and was given the title Malik-us Shu'ara .His Divan is said to have contained 30,000 distichs, of which only...

, and Manuchehri
Manuchihri
Abu Najm Ahmad ibn Ahmad ibn Qaus Manuchehri , a.k.a Manuchehri Damghani, was a royal poet of the 11th century in Persia.He was from Damghan in Iran and he is said to invent the form of musammat in Persian poetry and has the best ones too. He traveled to Tabarestan and was admitted to the court of...

. Panegyric masters such as Rudaki
Rudaki
Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki , also written as Rudagi , was a Persian poet, and is regarded as the first great literary genius of the Modern Persian, who composed poems in the "New Persian" alphabet. Rudaki is considered as a founder of Persian classical literature.He was born in 858 in...

 were known for their love of nature, their verse abounding with evocative descriptions.

Through these courts and system of patronage emerged the epic style of poetry, with Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

's Shahnama at the apex. By glorifying the Iranian historical past
History of Iran
The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

 in heroic and elevated verses, he and other notables such as Daqiqi and Asadi Tusi
Asadi Tusi
Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi is arguably the second most important Persian poet of the Iranian national epics, after Ferdowsi who also happens to come from the same town of Tus. He was a poet, a linguist and copyist of ancient manuscripts.- Life :The information on Asadi's lifetime is scant...

 presented the "Ajam
Ajam
Ajam is a word used in Persian and Arabic literature but with different concepts. Ajam in Arabic has two primary meanings: "non-Arab" and "Persian".literally it has other meaning "one who is illiterate in language", "silent", or "mute", and refers to non-Arabs in general, or people of Southern...

" with a source of pride and inspiration that has helped preserve a sense of identity for the Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 over the ages. Ferdowsi set a model to be followed by a host of other poets later on.

The 13th century marks the ascendancy of lyric poetry with the consequent development of the ghazal
Ghazal
The ghazal is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century...

 into a major verse form, as well as the rise of mystical and Sufi poetry
Sufi poetry
Sufi poetry has been written in many languages, both for private devotional reading and as lyrics for music played during worship, or dhikr. Themes and styles established in Punjabi Poetry, Sindhi Poetry, Arabic poetry and mostly Persian poetry have had an enormous influence on Sufi poetry...

. This style is often called "Araqi style", (western provinces of Iran were known as Araq-e-Ajam or Persian Iraq) and is known by its emotional lyric qualities, rich meters, and the relative simplicity of its language. Emotional romantic poetry was not something new however, as works such as Vis o Ramin
Vis u Ramin
Vis and Rāmin is an ancient Persian love story. The epic was composed in poetry by the Persian poet Asad Gorgani in 11th century....

 by Asad Gorgani, and Yusof o Zoleikha by Am'aq
Am'aq
Shihabuddin Am'aq was a 12th century Persian poet.Originating from Bukhara, he was an imposing poet that carried the title amir al-shu'ara in the Khaqanid courts...

 Bokharai exemplify. Poets such as Sana'i and Attar (who ostensibly have inspired Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

), Khaqani Shirvani, Anvari
Anvari
Anvari , full name Awhad ad-Din 'Ali ibn Mohammad Khavarani or Awhad ad-Din 'Ali ibn Mahmud was one of the greatest Persian poets....

, and Nizami, were highly respected ghazal writers. However, the elite of this school are Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

, Sadi
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

, and Hafiz Shirazi.

Regarding the tradition of Persian love poetry during the Safavid
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 era, Persian historian Ehsan Yarshater
Ehsan Yarshater
Ehsan Yarshater is the founder and director of The Center for Iranian Studies, and Hagop Kevorkian Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Columbia University. He was the first full-time professor of Persian at a U.S. university since World War II....

 notes, "As a rule, the beloved is not a woman, but a young man. In the early centuries of Islam, the raids into Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 produced many young slaves
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. Slaves were also bought or received as gifts. They were made to serve as pages at court or in the households of the affluent, or as soldiers and bodyguards. Young men, slaves or not, also, served wine at banquets and receptions, and the more gifted among them could play music and maintain a cultivated conversation. It was love toward young pages, soldiers, or novices in trades and professions which was the subject of lyrical introductions to panegyrics from the beginning of Persian poetry, and of the ghazal."

In the didactic genre one can mention Sanai
Sanai
Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi was a Afghan Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan between the 11th century and the 12th century. Some people spell his name as Sanayee. He died around 1131.-Life:...

's Hadiqat-ul-Haqiqah (Garden of Truth) as well as Nizami's Makhzan-ul-Asrār (Treasury of Secrets). Some of Attar's works also belong to this genre as do the major works of Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

, although some tend to classify these in the lyrical type due to their mystical and emotional qualities. In addition, some tend to group Naser Khosrow's works in this style as well; however true gems of this genre are two books by Sadi
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

, a heavyweight of Persian literature, the Bustan and the Gulistan
Gulistan of Sa'di
The Gulistan is a landmark literary work in Persian literature, perhaps its single most influential work of prose. Written in 1259 CE, it is one of two major works of the Persian poet Sa'di, considered one of the greatest medieval Persian poets. It is also one of his most popular books, and...

.

After the 15th century, the Indian style of Persian poetry (sometimes also called Isfahani or Safavi styles) took over. This style has its roots in the Timurid
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

 era and produced the likes of Amir Khosrow Dehlavi
Amir Khusro
Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrow , better known as Amīr Khusrow Dehlawī , was an Indian musician, scholar and poet. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent...

, and Bhai Nand Lal Goya
Nand Lal Goya
Bhai Nand Lal , also known as Bhai Nand Lal Singh was a 17th century Persian, and Arabic poet in Punjab region. He was born in Ghazni in Afghanistan to father Chhhajju Ram who was a famous Hindu Persian scholar...

.




Essays


The most significant essays of this era are Nizami Arudhi Samarqandi's "Chahār Maqāleh" as well as Zahiriddin Nasr Muhammad Aufi
Zahiriddin Nasr Muhammad Aufi
Sadiduddin Muhammad Aufi was a Persian historian, scientist, and author.-Biography:Born in Bukhara, Aufi grew up during the apex of the Islamic Golden Age, and spent many years traveling, exploring, and lecturing to the common folk and the royalty alike in Delhi, Khorasan, Khwarizm, Samarkand,...

's anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

 compendium Jawami ul-Hikayat
Jawami ul-Hikayat
Jawāmi ul-Hikāyāt wa Lawāmi' ul-Riwāyāt is a famous collection of Persian anecdotes written in the early 13th century. It is written by Zahiriddin Nasr Muhammad Aufi, who lived during the reign of Shamsuddin Iltutmish Jawāmi ul-Hikāyāt wa Lawāmi' ul-Riwāyāt (also transcribed Djami al-Hikayat and...

.
Shams al-Mo'ali Abol-hasan Ghaboos ibn Wushmgir
Shams al-Mo'ali Abol-hasan Ghaboos ibn Wushmgir
Qabus ibn Wushmagir Qabus ibn Wushmagir Qabus ibn Wushmagir (full name and honorific abol-ḥasan qābūs ben wušmagīr ibn ziyar šams al-maʿālī, ; (r. 977–981; 997–1012, d. 1012) was the Ziyarid ruler of Gurgan and Tabaristan in medieval Iran...

's famous work, the Qabus nama
Qabus nama
Qabus nama or Qabus nameh [variations: Qabusnamah, Qabousnameh, Ghabousnameh, or Ghaboosnameh, in Persian: قابوس‌نامه, book of Qabus] is a major work of Persian literature from the eleventh century Qabus nama or Qabus nameh [variations: Qabusnamah, Qabousnameh, Ghabousnameh, or Ghaboosnameh, in...

(A Mirror for Princes), is a highly esteemed Belles-lettres
Belles-lettres
Belles-lettres or belles lettres is a term that is used to describe a category of writing. A writer of belles-lettres is a belletrist. However, the boundaries of that category vary in different usages....

 work of Persian literature. Also highly regarded is Siyasatnama
Siyasatnama
Siyāsatnāma , also known as Siyar al-muluk , is the most famous work by Nizam al-Mulk, the founder of Nizamiyyah schools in medieval Persia and vizier to the Seljuq sultans Alp Arslan and Malik Shah...

, by Nizam al-Mulk
Nizam al-Mulk
Abu Ali al-Hasan al-Tusi Nizam al-Mulk, better known as Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk Tusi ; born in 1018 – 14 October 1092) was a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire...

, a famous Persian vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

. Kelileh va Demneh
Panchatantra
The Panchatantra is an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in a frame story format. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sharma...

, translated from India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n folk tales, can also be mentioned in this category. It is seen as a collection of adages in Persian literary studies and thus does not convey folkloric notions.

Biographies, hagiographies, and historical works


Among the major historical and biographical works in classical Persian, one can mention Abolfazl Beyhaghi's famous Tarikh-i Beyhaqi, Lubab ul-Albab
Lubab ul-Albab
Lubab ul-Albab is a famous anthology written by Zahiriddin Nasr Muhammad Aufi in the early 13th century in eastern Persia.It is considered as the oldest extant biographical work in Persian literature and the most important collection of biographies of Persian poets.As an example of the diversity...

of Zahiriddin Nasr Muhammad Aufi
Zahiriddin Nasr Muhammad Aufi
Sadiduddin Muhammad Aufi was a Persian historian, scientist, and author.-Biography:Born in Bukhara, Aufi grew up during the apex of the Islamic Golden Age, and spent many years traveling, exploring, and lecturing to the common folk and the royalty alike in Delhi, Khorasan, Khwarizm, Samarkand,...

 (which has been regarded as a reliable chronological source by many experts), as well as Ata al-Mulk Juvayni
Ata al-Mulk Juvayni
Atâ-Malek Jovayni was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā .He was born in Juvain, a city in Khorasan in northeastern Iran...

's famous Tarikh-i Jahangushay-i Juvaini
Tarikh-i Jahangushay-i Juvaini
Tarikh-i Jahangushay-i Juvaini is a detailed historical account written by the Persian Ata-Malik Juvayni describing the Mongol, Hulegu Khan, and Ilkhanid conquest of Persia as well as the history of Isma'ilis...

(which spans the Mongolid and Ilkhanid
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 era of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

). Attar's Tadkhirat al-Awliya ("Biographies of the Saints") is also a detailed account of Sufi mystics, which is referenced by many subsequent authors and considered a significant work in mystical hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

.

Literary criticism


The oldest surviving work of Persian literary criticism after the Islamic conquest of Persia is Muqaddame-ye Shahname-ye Abu Mansuri, which was written during the Samanid period. The work deals with the myths and legends of Shahname
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

 and is considered the oldest surviving example of Persian prose. It also shows an attempt by the authors to evaluate literary works critically.

Persian story telling


One Thousand and One Nights is a medieval folk tale collection which tells the story of Scheherazade
Scheherazade
Scheherazade , sometimes Scheherazadea, Persian transliteration Shahrazad or Shahrzād is a legendary Persian queen and the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights.-Narration :...

 ( Šahrzād), a Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 queen who must relate a series of stories to her malevolent husband, King Shahryar ( Šahryār), to delay her execution. The stories are told over a period of one thousand and one nights, and every night she ends the story with a suspenseful situation, forcing the King to keep her alive for another day. The individual stories were created over several centuries, by many people from a number of different lands.

The nucleus of the collection is formed by a Pahlavi Sassanid Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 book called Hazār Afsānah , a collection of ancient Indian and Persian folk tales.

During the reign of the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Harun al-Rashid
Harun al-Rashid
Hārūn al-Rashīd was the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph in Iraq. He was born in Rey, Iran, close to modern Tehran. His birth date remains a point of discussion, though, as various sources give the dates from 763 to 766)....

 in the 8th century, Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 had become an important cosmopolitan city. Merchants from Persia, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Africa, and Europe were all found in Baghdad. During this time, many of the stories that were originally folk stories are thought to have been collected orally over many years and later compiled into a single book. The compiler and ninth-century translator into Arabic is reputedly the storyteller Abu Abd-Allah Muhammad el-Gahshigar. The frame story
Frame story
A frame story is a literary technique that sometimes serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, whereby an introductory or main narrative is presented, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories...

 of Shahrzad seems to have been added in the 14th century.

Dictionaries


Dehkhoda names 200 Persian lexicographical works in his monumental Dehkhoda Dictionary
Dehkhoda Dictionary
The Dehkhoda Dictionary is the largest comprehensive Persian dictionary ever published, comprising 15 volumes . The complete work is an ongoing effort that entails over forty-five years of efforts by Dehkhoda and a cadre of other experts.The series initially consisted of 3 million records until...

, the earliest, Farhang-i Avim (فرهنگ اویم) and Farhang-i Menakhtay (فرهنگ مناختای), from the late Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 era.

The most widely used Persian lexicon
Lexicon
In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

s in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 were those of Abu Hafs Soghdi (فرهنگ ابو حفص سغدی) and Asadi Tusi
Asadi Tusi
Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi is arguably the second most important Persian poet of the Iranian national epics, after Ferdowsi who also happens to come from the same town of Tus. He was a poet, a linguist and copyist of ancient manuscripts.- Life :The information on Asadi's lifetime is scant...

 (فرهنگ لغت فرس), written in 1092.

Also highly regarded in the contemporary Persian literature lexical corpus are the works of Dr. Mohammad Moin
Mohammad Moin
Mohammad Moin was a prominent Iranian scholar of Persian literature and Iranian Studies....

. The first volume of Moin Dictionary was published in 1963.

In 1645, Christian Ravius completed a Persian-Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 dictionary, printed at Leiden. This was followed by J. Richardson
J. Richardson
J. Richardson was an English cricketer.Richardson made his first-class debut for the Marylebone Cricket Club against Oxford University in 1840...

's two-volume Oxford edition (1777) and Gladwin-Malda's (1770) Persian-English Dictionaries, Scharif and S. Peters' Persian-Russian Dictionary (1869), and 30 other Persian lexicographical translations through the 1950s.

In 2002, Professor Hassan Anvari published his Persian-to-Persian dictionary, Farhang-e Bozorg-e Sokhan, in eight volumes by Sokhan Publications.

Currently English-Persian dictionaries of Manouchehr Aryanpour and Soleiman Haim
Soleiman Haim
Solayman Haïm , whose dictionaries appeared in English under the name Sulayman Hayyim Solayman Haïm (also Soleyman Soly Haïm or Soleiman Haïm), whose dictionaries appeared in English under the name Sulayman Hayyim (Persian: سلیمان حییم) Solayman Haïm (also Soleyman Soly Haïm or Soleiman Haïm),...

 are widely used in Iran.

Sufi literature


William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 referred to Iran as the "land of the Sophy". Some of Persia's best-beloved medieval poets were Sufis
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

, and their poetry was, and is, widely read by Sufis from Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 to Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

 (Maulānā) in particular is renowned both as a poet and as the founder of a widespread Sufi order. The themes and styles of this devotional poetry have been widely imitated by many Sufi poets. See also the article on Sufi poetry
Sufi poetry
Sufi poetry has been written in many languages, both for private devotional reading and as lyrics for music played during worship, or dhikr. Themes and styles established in Punjabi Poetry, Sindhi Poetry, Arabic poetry and mostly Persian poetry have had an enormous influence on Sufi poetry...

.

Many notable texts in Persian mystic literature are not poems, yet highly read and regarded. Among those are Kimiya-yi sa'ādat
Kimiya-yi sa'adat
Kimiya-yi Sa'ādat was written by Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī, a Persian theologian, philosopher, and prolific Sunni author regarded as one of the greatest systematic Persian thinkers of Islam. The Kimiya-yi Sa'ādat was written towards the end of his life shortly before 499/1105...

and Asrar al-Tawhid
Asrar al-Tawhid
Asrar al-Tawhid fi Maghamat al-Sheikh Abusa'id is a work of 12th century Persian literature about the Sufi mystic Abū-Sa'īd Abul-Khayr.Thought to be written by Muhammad ibn Monavvar, one of Abul-Khayr's grandsons, 130 years after his death, it is also considered a landmark work of Sufi literature...

.

Indian subcontinent


With the emergence of the Ghaznavid
Ghaznavid Empire
The Ghaznavids were a Persianate Muslim dynasty of Turkic slave origin which existed from 975 to 1187 and ruled much of Persia, Transoxania, and the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. The Ghaznavid state was centered in Ghazni, a city in modern-day Afghanistan...

s and their successors such as the Ghurids
Ghurids
The Ghurids or Ghorids were a medieval Muslim dynasty of Iranian origin that ruled during the 12th and 13th centuries in Khorasan. At its zenith, their empire, centred at Ghōr , stretched over an area that included the whole of modern Afghanistan, the eastern parts of Iran and the northern section...

, Timurids
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

 and Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

, Persian culture
Culture of Iran
To best understand Iran, Afghanistan, their related societies and their people, one must first attempt to acquire an understanding of their culture. It is in the study of this area where the Persian identity optimally expresses itself...

 and its literature gradually moved into the vast Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. Persian was the language of the nobility, literary circles, and the royal Mughal courts for hundreds of years. (In modern times, Persian has been generally supplanted by Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

, a heavily Persian-influenced dialect of Hindustani
Hindustani language
Hindi-Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It is also known as Hindustani , and historically, as Hindavi or Rekhta...

.)

Under the Moghul Empire of India during the 16th century, the official language of India became Persian. Only in 1832 did the British army force the Indian subcontinent to begin conducting business in English. (Clawson, p. 6) Persian poetry in fact flourished in these regions while post-Safavid
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian literature stagnated. Dehkhoda and other scholars of the 20th century, for example, largely based their works on the detailed lexicography produced in India, using compilations such as Ghazi khan Badr Muhammad Dehlavi's Adat al-Fudhala (اداه الفضلا), Ibrahim Ghavamuddin Farughi's Farhang-i Ibrahimi ( فرهنگ ابراهیمی), and particularly Muhammad Padshah's Farhang-i Anandraj (فرهنگ آناندراج). Famous South Asian poets and scholars such as Amir Khosrow Dehlavi
Amir Khusro
Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrow , better known as Amīr Khusrow Dehlawī , was an Indian musician, scholar and poet. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent...

, Mirza Ghalib
Mirza Ghalib
Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-Daula Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan , pen-name Ghalib and Asad , was a classical Urdu and Persian poet from India during British colonial rule...

 and Muhammad Iqbal
Muhammad Iqbal
Sir Muhammad Iqbal , commonly referred to as Allama Iqbal , was a poet and philosopher born in Sialkot, then in the Punjab Province of British India, now in Pakistan...

 of Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 found many admirers in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 itself.

Western literature



Persian literature was little known in the West before the 19th century. It became much better known following the publication of several translations from the works of late medieval Persian poets, and it inspired works by various Western poets and writers.

German literature

  • In 1819, Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

     published his West-östlicher Divan, a collection of lyric poems inspired by a German translation of Hafiz (1326–1390).
  • The German essayist and philosopher Nietzsche
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

     was the author of the book Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None is a philosophical novel by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885...

    (1883–1885), referring to the ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster
    Zoroaster
    Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

     (circa 1700 BCE).

English literature

  • A selection from Ferdowsi
    Ferdowsi
    Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

    's Shahnameh
    Shahnameh
    The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

     (935–1020) was published in 1832 by James Atkinson
    James Atkinson (Persian scholar)
    James Atkinson was a surgeon, artist and Persian scholar - "a Renaissance man among Anglo-Indians" - Early life :Atkinson was born in Darlington, County Durham, England, the son of a woolcomber...

    , a physician employed by the British East India Company.
  • A portion of this abridgment was later versified by the British poet Matthew Arnold in his 1853 Rustam and Sohrab.
  • The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

     was another admirer of Persian poetry. He published several essays in 1876 that discuss Persian poetry: Letters and Social Aims, From the Persian of Hafiz, and Ghaselle.


Perhaps the most popular Persian poet of the nineteenth and early 20th centuries was Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

 (1048–1123), whose Rubaiyat was freely translated by Edward Fitzgerald
Edward Fitzgerald
Edward Fitzgerald may refer to:* Lord Edward FitzGerald , Irish revolutionary*Edward Fitzgerald , Irish* Edward FitzGerald, 7th Duke of Leinster * Edward Fitzgerald...

 in 1859. Khayyam is esteemed more as a scientist than a poet in his native Persia, but in Fitzgerald's rendering, he became one of the most quoted poets in English. Khayyam's line, "A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou", is known to many who could not say who wrote it, or where.

The Persian poet and mystic Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

 (1207–1273) (known as Molana in Iran) has attracted a large following in the late twentieth and early 21st centuries. Popularizing translations by Coleman Barks
Coleman Barks
Coleman Barks is an American poet. Although he neither speaks nor reads Persian, he is nonetheless renowned as an interpreter of Rumi and other mystic poets of Persia.- Biographical notes:...

 have presented Rumi as a New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 sage. There are also a number of more literary translations by scholars such as A.J. Arberry
Arthur John Arberry
Arthur John Arberry was a respected British orientalist. A most prolific scholar of Arabic, Persian, and Islamic studies, he was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and Pembroke College, Cambridge...

.

The classical poets (Hafiz, Sa'di
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

, Khayyam, Rumi, Nizami and Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

) are now widely known in English and can be read in various translations. Other works of Persian literature are untranslated and little known. There is a translation from the earliest copy of the Thousand and one nights a "Ninth Century Fragment Of The Thousand Nights" by Arif Al-Majdhub The Travels Of Hakim Kohl’in Al-Deen Al-Salik:

Swedish literature


During the last century, numerous works of classical Persian literature have been translated into Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 by baron Eric Hermelin
Eric Hermelin
Eric Axel Hermelin, Baron Hermelin was a Swedish author and prolific translator of Persian works of literature.-Biography:...

. He translated works by, among others, Farid al-Din Attar, Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

, Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

, Sa'adi and Sana'i
Sanai
Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi was a Afghan Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan between the 11th century and the 12th century. Some people spell his name as Sanayee. He died around 1131.-Life:...

. Influenced by the writings of the Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 mystic Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

, he was especially attracted to the religious or Sufi
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 aspects of classical Persian poetry. His translations have had a great impact on numerous modern Swedish writers, among them Karl Wennberg, Willy Kyrklund
Willy Kyrklund
Paul Wilhelm "Willy" Kyrklund was a Finnish Swedish-speaking author who lived in Uppsala, Sweden....

 and Gunnar Ekelöf
Gunnar Ekelöf
Gunnar Ekelöf was a Swedish poet and writer. He was a member of the Swedish Academy from 1958. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy by Uppsala University in 1958...

. Excerpts from Ferdousi's Shahnama has also been rendered into Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 by Namdar Nasser and Anja Malmberg.

Italian literature


During the last century, numerous works of classical Persian literature have been translated into Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 by Alessandro Bausani (Nizami, Rumi, Iqbal, Khayyam), Carlo Saccone ('Attar, Sana'i, Hafiz, Nasir-i Khusraw, Nizami, Ahmad Ghazali), Angelo Piemontese (Amir Khusraw Dihlavi), Pio Filippani-Ronconi (Nasir-i Khusraw, Sa'di), Riccardo Zipoli (Kay Ka'us, Bidil), Maurizio Pistoso (Nizam al-Mulk), Giorgio Vercellin (Nizami 'Aruzi), Giovanni Maria D'Erme ('Ubayd Zakani, Hafiz), Sergio Foti (Suhrawardi, Rumi, Jami), Rita Bargigli (Sa'di, Farrukhi, Manuchehri, 'Unsuri). A complete translation of Firdawsi's Shah-nama was made by Italo Pizzi in 19th century. See in Italian Wikipedia: letteratura persiana for more information.

History


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 mid-19th century at the court of Nasereddin Shah, when the reform-minded prime minister, Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir , also known as Mirza Taghi Khan Amir-Nezam , also known by the titles of Atabak and Amir-e Nezam; chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah Qajar for the first three years of his reign and one of the most capable and innovative figures to appear in the whole Qajar period...

, 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. Such concerns were also expressed by others such as Fath-'Ali Akhundzadeh, Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani
Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani
Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani was an Iranian literary critic.Kirmānī emphasized "that it is meaning, not the mode of expression, that exerts the real influence on the reader," and thus discouraged the "destruction of the natural clarity of language .....

, and Mirza Malkom Khan. 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
Intellectual movements in Iran
Intellectual movements in Iran involve the Iranian experience of modernity and its associated art, science, literature, poetry, and political structures that have been changing since the 19th century.- History of Iranian modernity :...

 among Iranian philosophical circles. Given the social and political climate of Persia (Iran) in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries, which led to the Persian Constitutional Revolution
Iranian Constitutional Revolution
The Persian Constitutional Revolution or Iranian Constitutional Revolution took place between 1905 and 1907...

 of 1906–1911, 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
Aref Qazvini
Abolqassem Aref Qazvini was an Iranian poet, lyricist, and musician.-Biography:He was born in Qazvin.He composed many poems about Iran and was called a national poet. Along with his powerful poetry, he also wrote lyrics for numerous songs and played music. He was a revolutionary during the Iranian...

, 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. 'Aref employed the ghazal, "the most central genre within the lyrical tradition" (p. 88), to write his "Payam-e Azadi" (Message of Freedom).

Some researchers argue that the notion of "sociopolitical ramifications of esthetic 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
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

 and Westernization
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

 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
Taqi Rafat
Taqi Rafat , more fully Mirza Taqikhan Raf'at Tabrizi , was an Iranian poet, playwright, critic, and journalist....

, 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
Ahmad Kasravi
Ahmad Kasravi , was a notable Iranian linguist, historian, and reformer.Born in Hokmabad , Tabriz, Iran, Kasravi was an Iranian Azeri Initially, Kasravi enrolled in a seminary. Later, he joined the Iranian Constitutional Revolution...

, Sadeq Hedayat and many others, the Iranian wave of comparative literature and literary criticism reached a symbolic crest with the emergence of Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub, Shahrokh Meskoob
Shahrokh Meskoob
Shahrokh Meskoob , was an outstanding Iranian writer, translator, scholar and University professor. He had been living in Paris, France for twenty years.-Works:...

, Houshang Golshiri
Houshang Golshiri
Houshang Golshiri was an Iranian fiction writer, critic and editor. He was one of the first Iranian writers to use modern literary techniques, and is recognized as one of the most influential writers of Persian prose of the twentieth century.-Early life:...

 and Ebrahim Golestan
Ebrahim Golestan
Ebrahim Golestan is an Iranian filmmaker and literary figure with a career spanning half a century...

.

Persian literature in Afghanistan


Persian literature in Afghanistan has also experienced a dramatic change during last century. At the beginning of the 20th century, Afghanistan was confronted with economic and social change, which sparked a new approach to literature. In 1911, Mahmud Tarzi
Mahmud Tarzi
Mahmūd Bēg Tarzī was one of Afghanistan's greatest intellectuals. He is known as the father of Afghan journalism...

, who came back to Afghanistan after years of exile in Turkey and was influential in government circles, started a fortnightly publication named Saraj’ul Akhbar. 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 1930 (1309 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.

Three of the most prominent classical poets in Afghanistan at the time were Qari Abdullah, Abdul Haq Betab and Khalil Ullah Khalili. 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. In 1318 (AH), after two poems by Nima Youshij titled "Gharab" and "Ghaghnus" were published, Khalili wrote a poem under the name "Sorude Kuhestan" or "The Song of the Mountain" in the same rhyming pattern as Nima and sent it to the Kabul Literary Circle. 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. The first book of new poems was published in the year 1957 (1336 AG), and in 1962 (1341 AH), a collection of modern Persian poetry was published in Kabul. The first group to write poems in the new style consisted of Mahmud Farani, Baregh Shafi’i, Solayman Layeq, Sohail, Ayeneh and a few others. Later, Vasef Bakhtari
Wasef Bakhtari
Wasef Bakhtari is a renowned Persian poet, literary figure and intellectual.-Life and education:Even though his father was from Kabul, he spent most of his childhood in Mazari Sharif. He attended Bakhtar School for his primary and for most of his secondary education. After his family moved to...

, Asadullah Habib and Latif Nazemi
Latif Nazemi
Latif Nazemi is a Persian poet and literary critic from Afghanistan. He currently lives in Frankfurt and works for Radio Deutsche Welle in Germany.Nazemi was born in Herat, Afghanistan and graduated from Kabul University, where he later taught...

, and others joined the group. Each had his own share in modernizing Persian poetry in Afghanistan. Other notable figures include Leila Sarahat Roshani, Sayed Elan Bahar and Parwin Pazwak
Parwin Pazwak
Parween Pazhwak is an Afghan artist from Afghanistan and a modern poet and writer of the Persian language.Parween was born to the Pazhwak literary and political family, her father and mother being Ne'matulla Pazhwak and Afifah Pazhwak, respectively...

. Poets like Mayakovsky
Vladimir Mayakovsky
Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky was a Russian and Soviet poet and playwright, among the foremost representatives of early-20th century Russian Futurism.- Early life :...

, 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.g. Farrokhi Yazdi and Ahmad Shamlou) on modern Afghan prose and poetry, especially in the second half of the 20th century, must also be taken into consideration.

Prominent writers from Afghanistan like Asef Soltanzadeh
Asef Soltanzadeh
Mohammad Asef Soltanzadeh was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1964, moved to Pakistan, then Iran in 1985, and in 2002, to Denmark. He is a writer specialising in prose and drama. He writes primarily in Persian....

, Reza Ebrahimi, Ameneh Mohammadi, and Abbas Jafari grew up in Iran and were influenced by Iranian writers and teachers.

Persian literature in Tajikistan


The new poetry in Tajikistan is mostly concerned with the way of life of people and is revolutionary. From the 1950s until the advent of new poetry in France, Asia and Latin America, the impact of the modernization drive was strong. In the 1960s, modern Iranian poetry and that of Mohammad Iqbal Lahouri made a profound impression in Tajik poetry. 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. Some of Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

's prominent names in Persian literature are Golrokhsar Safi Eva
Gulrukhsor Safieva
Golrokhsar Safi is a prominent Iranologist, Persian literary figure and Tajikistan's national poet. In the late 70's of the last century Golrokhsar Safi was an editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pioneer of Tajikistan....

, Mo'men Ghena'at, Farzaneh Khojandi
Farzona
Inoyat Hojieva , mostly known as Farzona is a Tajik poet and writer.Farzona was born on November 3, 1960, in Khujand, Tajikistan. She was influenced by Forough Farrokhzad and other Persian poets, such as Firdowsi and Rumi....

 and Layeq Shir-Ali.

Novels



Well-known novelists include:
  • Mohammad-Ali Jamalzadeh
  • Sadeq Hedayat
  • Sadeq Chubak
    Sadeq Chubak
    Sādeq Chubak , sometimes Sādegh Choubak, , was an author of short fiction, drama, novels and one of the leading 20th-century writers of Iran...

  • Gholam-Hossein Sa'edi
    Gholam-Hossein Sa'edi
    Gholām-Hossein Sā'edi MD was an Iranian writer. He has published over forty books, representing his talents in the fiction genres of drama , the novel, the screenplay, and the short story in addition to the non-fiction genres of cultural...

  • Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
    Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
    Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a prominent Iranian writer, thinker, and social and political critic.-Personal life:...

  • Simin Daneshvar
    Simin Daneshvar
    Simin Dāneshvar is an Iranian academic, novelist, fiction writer and translator of literary works from English, German, Italian and Russian into Persian. Daneshvar has a number of firsts to her credit. In 1948, her collection of Persian short stories was the first by an Iranian woman to be...

  • Bozorg Alavi
    Bozorg Alavi
    Bozorg Alavi was an influential Iranian writer, novelist, and political intellectual...

  • Ebrahim Golestan
    Ebrahim Golestan
    Ebrahim Golestan is an Iranian filmmaker and literary figure with a career spanning half a century...

  • Bahman Sholevar
    Bahman Sholevar
    Bahman Sholevar is an Iranian-American novelist, poet, translator, critic, psychiatrist and political activist. He began writing and translating at age 13. At ages 18 and 19 he translated William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and T. S...

  • Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi is an Iranian writer and actor. He is known as a realist writer of stories of rural life, in which he largely draws on his own experiences.-Biography:...

  • Bahram Sadeghi
  • Ghazaleh Alizadeh
    Ghazaleh Alizadeh
    Ghazaleh Alizadeh was an Iranian poet and writer. Her mother was also a poet and writer. She married Bizhan Elahi and they have a daughter called Salma....

  • Bahman Forsi
  • Houshang Golshiri
    Houshang Golshiri
    Houshang Golshiri was an Iranian fiction writer, critic and editor. He was one of the first Iranian writers to use modern literary techniques, and is recognized as one of the most influential writers of Persian prose of the twentieth century.-Early life:...

  • Reza Baraheni
    Reza Baraheni
    Reza Baraheni is an exiled Iranian novelist, poet, critic, and political activist.Former president of PEN Canada, the often called "Iran's finest living Writer" lives in Toronto, Canada, where he used to teach at the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.He’s the author of...

  • Abbas Maroufi
  • Reza Ghassemi
    Reza Ghassemi
    Reza Ghasemi is an Iranian novelist and musician.He was born in Mahshahr from Isfahanian descent. Besides his excellence in the field of fiction, for which he is so popular, he has an undeniable talent in classical Iranian music. He is a true master of the Persian Lute the Setar. He has composed...

  • Zoya Pirzad
    Zoya Pirzad
    Zoya Pirzad is a renowned Iranian-Armenian writer and novelist.Pirzad's first novel, "I Turn Off the Lights" has been published numerous times in Iran and has been translated to several languages...

  • Shahriyar Mandanipour
    Shahriyar Mandanipour
    Shahriar Mandanipour is a novelist and essayist in modern Persian literature.Mandanipour was born and raised in Shiraz. In 1975 he moved to Tehran and studied Political Sciences at Tehran University, graduating in 1980. In 1981, he enlisted in the army for his military service...


see also Persian Novel

Satire


  • Dehkhoda
  • Iraj Mirza
    Iraj Mirza
    Prince Iraj Mirza , son of prince Gholam Hossein Mirza, was a famous Iranian poet. He was a modern poet and his works are associated with the criticism of traditions. He had translations from the French language....

  • Kioumars Saberi Foumani
    Kioumars Saberi Foumani
    Kioumars Saberi Foumani also known with his pen nameGol-Agha , was an Iranian satirist, writer, and teacher.-Education and Personal Life:Saberi was born during the Second World War in Souma'eh Sara...

  • Obeid Zakani
  • Ebrahim Nabavi
    Ebrahim Nabavi
    Seyyed Ebrahim Nabavi is a prolific Iranian satirist, writer, diarist, and researcher. , he is the most widely known and active Iranian satirist, currently living in Belgium...

  • Hadi Khorsandi
    Hadi Khorsandi
    Hadi Khorsandi is a contemporary Iranian poet and satirist. Since 1979, he has been the editor and writer of the Persian-language satirical journal Asghar Agha ....

  • Bibi Khatoon Astarabadi
    Bibi Khatoon Astarabadi
    Bibi Khānoom Astarābādi was a notable Iranian writer, satirist, and one of the pioneering figures in the women's movement of Iran....

  • Bahman Sholevar
    Bahman Sholevar
    Bahman Sholevar is an Iranian-American novelist, poet, translator, critic, psychiatrist and political activist. He began writing and translating at age 13. At ages 18 and 19 he translated William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and T. S...

  • Emran Salahi

Literary criticism


Pioneers of Persian literary criticism in 19th century include Mirza Fath `Ali Akhundzade, Mirza Malkom Khan, Mirza `Abd al-Rahim Talebof and Zeyn al-`Abedin Maraghe`i
Zeyn al-Abedin Maraghei
Zeyn al-Abedin Maraghei was the first Iranian novelist . His novel, called "Safarnameh-ye Ebrahim Beg" was a criticism on Iran's social affairs.He was also a merchant from Istanbul...

.

Prominent 20th century critics include:
  • Jamshid Behnam
    Jamshid Behnam
    Jamshid Behnam is an Iranian sociologist, writer, and translator. He is known for his work in the development of sociology and modernization in 20th century–Iran...

  • Allameh Dehkhoda
  • Badiozzaman Forouzanfar
    Badiozzaman Forouzanfar
    Badi'ozzamān Foruzānfar was a scholar of Persian literature, Iranian linguistics and culture, and an expert on Molana Jalaleddin Balkhi and his works...

  • Mohammad-Taqi Bahar
  • Jalal Homaei
  • Mohammad Moin
    Mohammad Moin
    Mohammad Moin was a prominent Iranian scholar of Persian literature and Iranian Studies....

  • Saeed Nafisi
  • Parviz Natel-Khanlari
    Parviz Natel-Khanlari
    Parviz Natel Khanlari Mazandarni , Iranian literary scholar, linguist, author, researcher and professor at Tehran University.-Biography:...

  • Sadeq Hedayat
  • Ahmad Kasravi
    Ahmad Kasravi
    Ahmad Kasravi , was a notable Iranian linguist, historian, and reformer.Born in Hokmabad , Tabriz, Iran, Kasravi was an Iranian Azeri Initially, Kasravi enrolled in a seminary. Later, he joined the Iranian Constitutional Revolution...

    .
  • Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub
  • Shahrokh Meskoob
    Shahrokh Meskoob
    Shahrokh Meskoob , was an outstanding Iranian writer, translator, scholar and University professor. He had been living in Paris, France for twenty years.-Works:...


Saeed Nafisi analyzed and edited several critical works. He is well known for his works on Rudaki
Rudaki
Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki , also written as Rudagi , was a Persian poet, and is regarded as the first great literary genius of the Modern Persian, who composed poems in the "New Persian" alphabet. Rudaki is considered as a founder of Persian classical literature.He was born in 858 in...

 and Sufi literature. Parviz Natel-Khanlari
Parviz Natel-Khanlari
Parviz Natel Khanlari Mazandarni , Iranian literary scholar, linguist, author, researcher and professor at Tehran University.-Biography:...

 and Gholamhossein Yousefi, who belong to Nafisi's generation, were also involved in modern literature and critical writings. Natel-Khanlari is distinguished by the simplicity of his style. He did not follow the traditionalists, nor did he advocate the new. Instead, his approach accommodated the entire spectrum of creativity and expression in Persian literature. Another critic, Ahmad Kasravi
Ahmad Kasravi
Ahmad Kasravi , was a notable Iranian linguist, historian, and reformer.Born in Hokmabad , Tabriz, Iran, Kasravi was an Iranian Azeri Initially, Kasravi enrolled in a seminary. Later, he joined the Iranian Constitutional Revolution...

, an experienced authority on literature, attacked the writers and poets whose works served despotism.

Contemporary Persian literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

 reached its maturity after Sadeq Hedayat, Ebrahim Golestan
Ebrahim Golestan
Ebrahim Golestan is an Iranian filmmaker and literary figure with a career spanning half a century...

, Houshang Golshiri
Houshang Golshiri
Houshang Golshiri was an Iranian fiction writer, critic and editor. He was one of the first Iranian writers to use modern literary techniques, and is recognized as one of the most influential writers of Persian prose of the twentieth century.-Early life:...

, Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub and Shahrokh Meskoob
Shahrokh Meskoob
Shahrokh Meskoob , was an outstanding Iranian writer, translator, scholar and University professor. He had been living in Paris, France for twenty years.-Works:...

. 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
Comparative literature
Comparative literature is an academic field dealing with the literature of two or more different linguistic, cultural or national groups...

 and Persian literary criticism. Zarrinkoub's Serr e Ney is a critical and comparative analysis of Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

's Masnavi. In turn, Shahrokh Meskoob
Shahrokh Meskoob
Shahrokh Meskoob , was an outstanding Iranian writer, translator, scholar and University professor. He had been living in Paris, France for twenty years.-Works:...

 worked on Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

, using the principles of modern literary criticism.

Mohammad Taghi Bahar's main contribution to this field is his book called Sabk Shenasi (Stylistics). 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. It further contends that, rather than a text on Persian ‘stylistics’, Sabk-shinasi is a vast history of Persian literary prose, and, as such, is a significant intervention in Persian literary historiography.

Jalal Homaei, Badiozzaman Forouzanfar
Badiozzaman Forouzanfar
Badi'ozzamān Foruzānfar was a scholar of Persian literature, Iranian linguistics and culture, and an expert on Molana Jalaleddin Balkhi and his works...

 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 2000.

Persian short stories



Historically, the modern Persian short story has undergone three stages of development: a formative period, a period of consolidation and growth, and a period of diversity.

The formative period


The formative period was ushered in by Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh's collection Yak-i Bud Yak-i Nabud (1921; tr. H. Moayyad and P. Sprachman as Once Upon a Time, New York, 1985), and gained momentum with the early short stories of Sadeq Hedayat (1903–51). Jamalzadeh (1895–1997) is usually considered as the first writer of modern short stories in Persian. His stories focus on plot and action rather than on mood or character development and in that respect are reminiscent of the works of Guy de Maupassant and O. Henry.
In contrast, Sadeq Hedayat, the writer who introduced modernism to Persian literature, brought about a fundamental change in Persian fiction. In addition to his longer stories, "Buf-e kur" (his masterpiece; see above ii.) and "Haji Aqa" (1945), he wrote collections of short stories including Se Ghatra-ye Khun (Three Drops of Blood, 1932; tr. into French by G. Lazard as Trois gouuttes de sang, Paris 1996) and Zenda be Gur (Buried Alive, 1930). His stories were written in a simple and lucid language, but he employed a variety of approaches, from realism and naturalism to surrealistic fantasy, breaking new ground and introducing a whole range of literary models and presenting new possibilities for the further development of the genre. He experimented with disrupted chronology and non-linear or circular plots, applying these techniques to both his realistic and surrealist writings.
Unlike Hedayat, who focused on the psychological complexity and latent vulnerabilities of the individual, Bozorg Alavi
Bozorg Alavi
Bozorg Alavi was an influential Iranian writer, novelist, and political intellectual...

 depicts ideologically motivated personages defying oppression and social injustice. Such characters, seldom portrayed before in Persian fiction, are Alavi's main contribution to the thematic range of the modem Persian short story. This commitment to social issues is emulated by Fereydun Tonokaboni (b. 1937), Mahmud Dawlatabadi (b. 1940), Samad Behrangi
Samad Behrangi
Samad Behrangi was an Iranian teacher, social critic, folklorist, translator, and short story writer of Azeri extraction. He is famous for his children's book, The Little Black Fish.-Life:He was born in Tabriz to a lower-class Azerbaijani family...

 (q.v.; 1939–68), and other writers of the left in the next generation.

Sadeq Chubak
Sadeq Chubak
Sādeq Chubak , sometimes Sādegh Choubak, , was an author of short fiction, drama, novels and one of the leading 20th-century writers of Iran...

 was one of the first authors to break the taboo. Following the example of William Faulkner
William Faulkner
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career...

, John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and the novella Of Mice and Men...

, Erskine Caldwell
Erskine Caldwell
Erskine Preston Caldwell was an American author. His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native South like the novels Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre won him critical acclaim, but they also made him controversial among fellow Southerners of the time who felt he was...

, and Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

, his blunt approach appears in the early short story collections Khayma Shab-bazi (The Puppet Show, 1945) and Antar-i ke Luti-ash Morda Bud (1949; tr. P. Avery as "The Baboon Whose Buffoon was Dead", New World Writing 11, 1957, pp. 14–24), Later stories like "Zir-e Cheragh-e Ghermez", "Pirahan-e Zereski", and "Chera Darya Tufani Shoda Bud" describe the naked bestiality and moral degradation of the personages with no trace of squeamishness. His short stories mirror rotting society, populated by the crushed and the defeated. Chubak picks marginal characters—vagrants, pigeon-racers, corpse-washers, prostitutes, and opium addicts—who rarely appear in the fiction of his predecessors, and whom he portrays with vividness and force. His readers come face to face with grim realities and incidents that they have often witnessed for themselves in everyday life but have shunned out of their mind through complacency.

A distinctive trait of post-war Persian fiction in all the three stages of development is the attention devoted to narrative styles and techniques. In matters of style two main trends prevail. Some authors, like Chubak and Al-e Ahmad, follow colloquial speech patterns; others, such as Ebrahim Golestan
Ebrahim Golestan
Ebrahim Golestan is an Iranian filmmaker and literary figure with a career spanning half a century...

 (b. 1922) and Mahmoud Etemadzadeh "Behazin" (b. 1915), have adopted a more literary and lyrical tone. Although the work of all four writers stretch into later periods, some brief remarks about their differing techniques, which delineated future paths, need mentioning at the outset. Golestan experimented with different narrative styles, and it was only in two late collections of stories, Juy o Divar o Teshna (The Stream and the Wall and the Parched, 1967) and Madd o Meh (The Tide and the Mist, 1969) that he managed to find a style and voice of his own. His poetic language draws inspiration both from syntactical forms of classical Persian prose and the experiments of modernist writers, most notably Gertrude Stein. The influence of modernism is evident also in the structure of Golestan's short stories, in which the traditional linear plot line is abandoned in favor of disrupted chronology and free association of ideas. Contrary to most other modern Persian authors, Golestan pays little heed to the state of the poor and the dispossessed. Instead, his short stories are devoted to the world of Persian intellectuals, their concerns, anxieties and private obsessions. Golestan's brand of modernism has influenced the later generation of writers like Bahman Forsi (b. 1933) and Houshang Golshiri
Houshang Golshiri
Houshang Golshiri was an Iranian fiction writer, critic and editor. He was one of the first Iranian writers to use modern literary techniques, and is recognized as one of the most influential writers of Persian prose of the twentieth century.-Early life:...

 (b. 1937). Although the stories of Behazin show similar indebtedness to classical Persian models, he does not follow Golestan's modernist experiments with syntax. Behazin is an author whose stories, delivered in a lucid literary style, express his leftist social beliefs. In some of his later works like the short story collection Mohra-ye Mar (The Snake Charm, 1955), he turns to literary allegory, imbuing ancient tales with a new message, a technique, which allows him to express his critical views obliquely. Behazin's predecessors in the sub-genre of the allegorical tale were Hedayat (in Ab-e Zendegi, 1931) and Chubak ("Esa'a-ye Adab" in the collection Khayma-Shab-Bazi).

Period of growth and development


This second period in the development of the modern Persian short story began with the coup of 19 August 1953, and ended with the revolution of 1979
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

.

Jalal Al-e Ahmad
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a prominent Iranian writer, thinker, and social and political critic.-Personal life:...

 is among the proponents of new political and cultural ideas whose influence and impact straddle the first and the second periods in the history of modern Persian fiction. His writings show an awareness of the works of Franz Fanon and the new generation of third-world writers concerned with the problems of cultural domination by colonial powers. Al-e Ahmad, Behazin, Tonekaboni, and Behrangi can all be described as engaged writers because most of their stories are built around a central ideological tenet or thesis and illustrate the authors' political views and leanings. Among poets of this period, Forough Farrokhzad
Forough Farrokhzad
Forugh Farrokhzād was an Iranian poet and film director. Forugh Farrokhzad is arguably one of Iran's most influential female poets of the twentieth century...

 (1935–1967) has a special place as the first female poet of the Persian language acclaimed by her contemporaries and who left a lasting legacy despite her short life. Her legacy and influence is not primarily (or uniquely) political; however, she was among the first women able to set a personal and original mark. In this sense she is elevated to iconic status.

Another notable author from this period is Simin Daneshvar
Simin Daneshvar
Simin Dāneshvar is an Iranian academic, novelist, fiction writer and translator of literary works from English, German, Italian and Russian into Persian. Daneshvar has a number of firsts to her credit. In 1948, her collection of Persian short stories was the first by an Iranian woman to be...

 (b. 1921), the first woman writer of note in contemporary Persian literature. Her reputation rests largely on her popular novel Savusun ("The Mourners of Siyāvosh," 1969). Simin Daneshvar's short stories deserve mention because they focus on the plight and social exclusion of women in Persian society and address topical issues from a woman's point of view.

Gholam Hossein Saedi's (1935–85) short stories, which he called ghessa, often transcend the boundaries of realism and attain a symbolic significance. His allegorical stories, which occasionally resemble folkloric tales and fables, are inhabited by displaced persons, trapped in dead ends (Sepanlu, p. 117). They emphasize the anxieties and the psychological perturbations of his deeply troubled characters. Sadeghi (1936–84) was yet another author who focused on the anxieties and secret mental agonies of his characters.

Hooshang Golshiri (1937–2000) and Asghar Elahi (b. 1944) created memorable psychological portraits through interim monologue and stream of consciousness techniques. Golshiri, the author of the long story "Shazda Ehtejab" (Prince Ehtejab, 1968), is particularly noted for his successful experiments with extended interior monologues. A bold, innovative writer eager to explore modern methods and styles, Golshiri uses stream of consciousness narrative to reassess familiar theories and events.

Period of diversity


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
Persian Fantasy Academy
Fantasy Academy is a Persian literature group whose main representation media is a website. The group is the governing body of the Persian Speculative Fiction Art and Literature Award...

.

Poetry


Notable Persian poets, modern and classical, include Mehdi Akhavan-Sales
Mehdi Akhavan-Sales
Mehdi Akhavān-Sāles , or Akhavān-Sāless , pen name M. Omid was a prominent Iranian poet. He is one of the pioneers of Free Verse in Persian language.-Life:Akhavan Sales was born in 1928 in Mashhad, Iran. He gave up an interest in music to appease his father...

, Simin Behbahani
Simin Behbahani
Simin Beh'bahāni is one of the most prominent figures of the modern Persian literature and one of the most outstanding amongst the contemporary Persian poets. She is Iran's national poet and an icon of the Iranian intelligentsia and literati who affectionately refer to her as the lioness of Iran...

, Forough Farrokhzad
Forough Farrokhzad
Forugh Farrokhzād was an Iranian poet and film director. Forugh Farrokhzad is arguably one of Iran's most influential female poets of the twentieth century...

, Mohammad Zohari
Mohammad Zohari
Mohammad Zohari Iranian Poet & WriterHe was born in Tonekabon a city in north of Iran. As the first son of Abdollah Zohari Khalatbary an activist in Iranian Constitutional Revolution who had received the honorific title of “Motamed-ol-Soltan Zaygham-ol-Mamalek" from Ahmad Shah Qajar, in 1931 due...

, Bijan Jalali
Bijan Jalali
Bijan Jalali is a renowned modern Persian poet.- References :* *...

, Mina Assadi
Mina Assadi
-Biography:Mina Assadi is a famous poet, author, journalist and songwriter who lives in exile in Stockholm, Sweden. She is known for writing about controversial and provocative subjects, especially when she describes the fight against the Iranian regime. In 2007 she wrote the poem called "Pimps"...

, Siavash Kasraie
Siavash Kasraie
Siavash Kasraie was an Iranian poet....

, Fereydoon Moshiri
Fereydoon Moshiri
Fereydoon Moshiri was one of the prominent contemporary Persian poets who versified in both modern and classic styles of the Persian poem. He is best known as conciliator of classical Persian poetry at one side with the New Poetry initiated by Nima Yushij at the other side...

, Nader Naderpour
Nader Naderpour
Nader Naderpour was an Iranian-born poet.Among many Iranian poets who shaped up the New Persian Poetry or New Poetry , Ali Esfandiari, aka Nima Yooshij, Parviz Natel Khanlari, Nader Naderpor, Forough Farrokhzad, Mehdi Akhavan Saless, Sohrab Sepehri, Feraydoon Moshiri, Siavosh Kasraii, Ahmad...

, Sohrab Sepehri
Sohrab Sepehri
Sohrab Sepehri was a notable modern Persian poet and a painter.He was born in Kashan in Isfahan province....

, Mohammad-Reza Shafiei-Kadkani, Ahmad Shamlou, Nima Yushij
Nima Yooshij
Nimā Yushij also called Nimā, born Ali Esfandiāri , was a contemporary Tabarian and Persian poet who started the she’r-e no also known as she’r-e nimaa'i trend in Iran...

, Manouchehr Atashi
Manouchehr Atashi
Manouchehr Atashi was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist.He was born in 1931 in Dashtestan, Bushehr province His poetry is the poetry of the revolting warrior of the humiliated southern tribesman. He takes his work seriously and although attached to his native birthplace his poems are...

, Houshang Ebtehaj
Hushang Ebtehaj
Hushang Ebtehaj , with the pen name of H. E. Sayeh is an eminent Iranian poet of the 20th century, whose life and work spans many of Iran's political, cultural and literary upheavals....

, Mirzadeh Eshghi
Mirzadeh Eshghi
Mirzadeh Eshghi or Eshqi , born Sayed Mohammad Reza Kordestani , was a political writer and poet of Iran.He was born in Hamadan, the son of Hajj Sayed Abolghasam Kordestani; he learned French in the Ecole d'Alliance, and moved to Istanbul for a while...

 (classical), Mohammad Taghi Bahar (classical), Aref Ghazvini (classical), Parvin Etesami
Parvin E'tesami
Parvin E'tesami , also Parvin Etesami was a 20th century Persian poet of Iran. According to Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, her given name was Rakhshanda .-Life:...

 (classical), and Shahriar (classical).

Classical Persian poetry in modern times


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. The theme of his poems was the social and political situation of Iran.

Parvin Etesami may be called the greatest Persian poetess 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.

Modern Persian poetry


Nima Yushij
Nima Yooshij
Nimā Yushij also called Nimā, born Ali Esfandiāri , was a contemporary Tabarian and Persian poet who started the she’r-e no also known as she’r-e nimaa'i trend in Iran...

 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.

The Sepid poem
Sepid Persian Poetry
Sepid poetry is a type of Modern Persian poetry.The word "sepid" means "white" and it refers to a certain class of Persian poetry initiated by Ahmad Shamloo and came to its mature form and general acceptance after Bijan Jalali....

 (which translates to white poem), which draws its sources from this poet, avoided the compulsory rules which had entered the Nimai’ school of poetry and adopted a freer structure. This allowed a more direct relationship between the poet and his or her emotional roots. In previous poetry, the qualities of the poet’s vision as well as the span of the subject could only be expressed in general terms and were subsumed by the formal limitations imposed on poetic expression.


Nima’s poetry transgressed these limitations. It relied on the natural function inherent within poetry itself to portray the poet’s solidarity with life and the wide world surrounding him or her in specific and unambiguous details and scenes. Sepid poetry continues the poetic vision as Nima expressed it and avoids the contrived rules imposed on its creation. However, its most distinct difference with Nimai’ poetry is to move away from the rhythms it employed. Nima Yioushij paid attention to an overall harmonious rhyming and created many experimental examples to achieve this end.

Ahmad Shamlu discovered the inner characteristics of poetry and its manifestation in the literary creations of classical masters as well as the Nimai’ experience. He offered an individual approach. By distancing himself from the obligations imposed by older poetry and some of the limitations that had entered the Nimai’ poem, he recognized the role of prose and music hidden in the language. In the structure of Sepid poetry, in contrast to the prosodic and Nimai’ rules, the poem is written in more "natural" words and incorporates a prose-like process without losing its poetic distinction.
Sepid poetry is a developing branch of Nimai’ poetry built upon Nima Youshij's innovations. Nima thought that any change in the construction and the tools of a poet’s expression is conditional on his/her knowledge of the world and a revolutionized outlook. Sepid poetry could not take root outside this teaching and its application.

According to Simin Behbahani
Simin Behbahani
Simin Beh'bahāni is one of the most prominent figures of the modern Persian literature and one of the most outstanding amongst the contemporary Persian poets. She is Iran's national poet and an icon of the Iranian intelligentsia and literati who affectionately refer to her as the lioness of Iran...

, Sepid poetry did not received general acceptance before Bijan Jalali
Bijan Jalali
Bijan Jalali is a renowned modern Persian poet.- References :* *...

's works. He is considered the founder of Sepid poetry according to Behbahani.
Behbahani herself used the "Char Pareh" style of Nima, and subsequently turned to ghazal
Ghazal
The ghazal is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century...

, a free-flowing poetry style similar to the Western sonnet. Simin Behbahani contributed to a historic development in the form of the ghazal, as she added theatrical subjects, and daily events and conversations into her poetry. She has expanded the range of traditional Persian verse forms and produced some of the most significant works of Persian literature in the 20th century.

A reluctant follower of Nima Yushij, Mehdi Akhavan-Sales
Mehdi Akhavan-Sales
Mehdi Akhavān-Sāles , or Akhavān-Sāless , pen name M. Omid was a prominent Iranian poet. He is one of the pioneers of Free Verse in Persian language.-Life:Akhavan Sales was born in 1928 in Mashhad, Iran. He gave up an interest in music to appease his father...

 published his Organ (1951) to support contentions against Nima Yushij's groundbreaking endeavors. In Persian poetry, Mehdi Akhavan Sales has established a bridge between the Khorassani and Nima Schools. The critics consider Mehdi Akhavan Sales as one of the best contemporary Persian poets. He is one of the pioneers of free verse (new style poetry) in Persian literature, particularly of modern style epics. It was his ambition, for a long time, to introduce a fresh style to Persian poetry.

Forough Farrokhzad
Forough Farrokhzad
Forugh Farrokhzād was an Iranian poet and film director. Forugh Farrokhzad is arguably one of Iran's most influential female poets of the twentieth century...

 is important in the literary history of Iran for three reasons. First, she was among the first generation to embrace the new style of poetry, pioneered by Nima Yushij during the 1920s, which demanded that poets experiment with rhyme, imagery, and the individual voice. Second, she was the first modern Iranian woman to graphically articulate private sexual landscapes from a woman's perspective. Finally, she transcended her own literary role and experimented with acting, painting, and documentary film-making.

Fereydoon Moshiri
Fereydoon Moshiri
Fereydoon Moshiri was one of the prominent contemporary Persian poets who versified in both modern and classic styles of the Persian poem. He is best known as conciliator of classical Persian poetry at one side with the New Poetry initiated by Nima Yushij at the other side...

 is best known as conciliator of classical Persian poetry with the New Poetry initiated by Nima Yooshij. One of the major contributions of Moshiri's poetry, according to some observers, is the broadening of the social and geographical scope of modern Persian literature.

A poet of the last generation before the Islamic Revolution worthy of mention is Mohammad-Reza Shafiei-Kadkani (M. Sereshk). Though he is from Khorassan and sways between allegiance to Nima Youshij and Akhavan Saless, in his poetry he shows the influences of Hafiz and Mowlavi. He uses simple, lyrical language and is mostly inspired by the political atmosphere. He is the most successful of those poets who in the past four decades have tried hard to find a synthesis between the two models of Ahmad Shamloo and Nima Youshij.

Persian literature awards

  • Sadegh Hedayat Award
  • National Ferdowsi Prize
  • Houshang Golshiri Award
  • Bijan Jalali Award
  • Iran's Annual Book Prize
  • Mehrgan Adab Prize
  • Parvin Etesami Award
  • Yalda Literary Award
  • Isfahan Literary Award
  • Persian Speculative Art and Literature Award
    Persian Speculative Art and Literature Award
    Persian Speculative Art and Literature Award is a annual literary award for Persian media in the field of speculative fiction printed in Persian language...

  • Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards
    Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards
    The Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award is an Iranian literary award presented yearly since 2008. Every year, an award is given to the best Iranian authors on the birthday of the renowned Persian writer Jalal Al-e Ahmad. The top winner receives 110 Bahar Azadi gold coins, making it Iran's most...

  • Golden Pen Awards

Authors and poets


(( "Eminent Poetesses of Persian" by R.M. Chopra, 2010.))

See also

  • Persian mythology
    Persian mythology
    Persian mythology are traditional tales and stories of ancient origin, some involving extraordinary or supernatural beings. Drawn from the legendary past of the Iranian cultural continent which especially consists of the state of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia, they reflect the...

  • Academy of Persian Language and Literature
    Academy of Persian Language and Literature
    Iran's Academy of Persian Language and Literature is a body controlled by the Iranian government presiding over the use of the Persian language in Iran and other Persian speaking countries. The academy members are academics of Persian literature and linguistics from , , , and .- History :The...

  • Persianate
    Persianate
    A Persianate/Persified society is a society that is either based on, or strongly influenced by the Persian language, culture, literature, art, and/or identity....

  • Persian language
    Persian language
    Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

  • Pahlavi literature
    Pahlavi literature
    Middle Persian literature also called Pahlavi literature is Persian literature of the 1st millennium AD, especially of the Sassanid period.- Literature of Pahlavi :Pahlavi Literature can be divided in three parts:...

  • Middle Persian
    Middle Persian
    Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

  • Persian literature in the West
    Persian literature in the West
    The influence of Persian literature in Western culture is historically significant. In order to avoid what E.G. Browne calls "an altogether inadequate judgment of the intellectual activity of that ingenious and talented people" , many top calibre centers of academia throughout the world today from...

  • Persian culture
  • Persian Mysticism
    Persian mysticism
    Persian mysticism, or the Persian love tradition, is a traditional interpretation of existence, life and love in Iran. It relies on revelatory and heart-felt principles in its reasoning...

  • Persian cinema
    Cinema of Iran
    The cinema of Iran is a flourishing film industry with a long history. Many popular commercial films are annually made in Iran, and Iranian art films win praise around the world....


Further reading

  • Aryanpur, Manoochehr. A History of Persian Literature. Tehran: Kayhan Press, 1973
  • Clawson, Patrick. Eternal Iran. Macmillan, 2005. ISBN 1-4039-6276-6.
  • Browne, E.G.
    Edward Granville Browne
    Edward Granville Browne , born in Stouts Hill, Uley, Gloucestershire, England, was a British orientalist who published numerous articles and books of academic value, mainly in the areas of history and literature...

    . Literary History of Persia 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
  • Browne, Edward G.
    Edward Granville Browne
    Edward Granville Browne , born in Stouts Hill, Uley, Gloucestershire, England, was a British orientalist who published numerous articles and books of academic value, mainly in the areas of history and literature...

    . Islamic Medicine. 2002. ISBN 81-87570-19-9
  • Rypka, Jan. History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company, 1968. . ISBN 90-277-0143-1 }}
  • Tikku, G.L. Persian Poetry in Kashmir. 1971. ISBN 0-520-09312-7
  • Walker, Benjamin
    Benjamin Walker
    Benjamin Walker is the truncated pen name of George Benjamin Walker, who also writes under the pseudonym Jivan Bhakar...

    . Persian Pageant: A Cultural History of Iran. Calcutta: Arya Press, 1950.
  • ((Chopra, R.M., "Eminent Poetesses of Persian", Iran Society, Kolkata, 2010.

In English