Recasting Persian Poetry: Scenarios of Poetic Modernity in Iran

Recasting Persian Poetry: Scenarios of Poetic Modernity in Iran

Recasting Persian Poetry: Scenarios of Poetic Modernity in Iran

Recasting Persian Poetry: Scenarios of Poetic Modernity in Iran

Synopsis

"Using a semiotic model of poetic change, Recasting Persian Poetry presents a critical history of the evolution of Persian poetry in modern Iran. Iran's contact with Europe in the nineteenth century produced largely imaginary ideas about European culture and literature. In a series of textual maneuvers and cultural contestations, successive generations of Iranian intellectuals sought to recast the classical tradition in a mold at once modern and relevant to their concerns. In particular, Karimi proposes a revision of the view that sets the Modernist poet Nima Yushij as the single-handed inventor of "New Poetry." This view, he argues, has resulted in an exaggerated sense of the esthetic gulf between the modernist poetry of Iran and classical Persian poetry. Through a number of close readings of works by Nima's predecessors, Karimi makes visible a century-old Persian poetic tradition with Nima as its culmination." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Recent developments in literary studies have begun to make it possible to explore areas of cultural experience that have been invisible and, therefore, unarticulated. The process of literary change--the breakdown of old and established norms, conventions, and systems of esthetic expression; the loss of once powerful and pervasive paradigms; and the emergence of new poetic codes and modes of signification--is being reconsidered in light of poststructuralist literary theory. Thus, an attempt to apply the insights gained into the phenomenon of poetic change along a diachronic dimension to the study of the process by which the poetry of modern Iran came into existence may well reveal the ways in which esthetic traditions renew themselves at certain historical junctures. Such at least has been my ultimate hope in writing this book.

The nature and significance of poetry in modern Iran cannot be understood without a close reading of the conditions that gave rise to it and the processes that determined its shape. The principal condition was Iran's familiarity with European cultures, and the processes consisted of a series of negotiations and contestations within Iran's literary community. The ideas and arguments presented, the scenarios envisioned, and the textual examples offered were the result of a continuous dialogue with the tradition of classical Persian poetry on the one hand and, on the other, with largely imaginary ideas about "European literature." There has been a tendency in traditional literary scholarship on the subject to speak of modern Persian poetry as the result of a sharp break with the past. This is more a rhetorical posture than an accurate description of modernism in Persian poetry. The classical tradition was not completely abandoned even by those who were rejecting it.

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