Early Modern Persian Literature as Viewed by Contemporary Arab Anthologists


Among recent trends in the field of Persian literary history, two of the most fruitful have been a wave of interest in poetry from the long-neglected early modern period (ca. 1500–1800), and a greater measure of attention being paid to literary anthologies (tazkirahs). These developments are not unrelated: as we seek to learn more about early modern Persian literature, anthologies will serve as singularly rich sources. In them we find biographical information about authors, indications of which works were most influential, etc. The amount of research left to be done in this area is effectively limitless, given several anthologies of monumental scale that have received little scholarly attention. It should come as no surprise that Arabic literary historians are engaged in a similar process. Like Persianists, they are finally revisiting works from the “post-classical period,” and moving beyond the traditional paradigm of decline in Arabic culture between the Mongol sack of Baghdad and Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt. Anthologies (here, tarajim) are among their key sources. A question that has yet to see much discussion is the extent to which literati working in the Persianate and Arabic spheres during this period were aware of one another. It is on this point that my paper will make a small contribution…

Irvine, CA

This is part of a panel session, with colleagues from the University of Chicago and elsewhere, titled “Persianate Is as Persianate Does.”