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Composed more than a thousand years ago, this national epic of Persia tells the story of Iran from the first "lord of the world," Kayumars, through the seventh-century Arab/Islamic conquest of the Sassanid dynasty. With a foreword by Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, and illustrated with Persian lithographs, Davis's translation of this epic poem is an accessible combination of poetry and prose.
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This immense volume translates into clear, accessible prose the bedrock work of Iranian literature. Compiled and cast into verse by a tenth-century bard, Shahnameh contains the stories of the kings of ancient Iran before Islam overwhelmed the land in the seventh century. The first half deals primarily with mythical and semimythical figures, chief among them the great hero Rostam, while the latter half, beginning with the conquest of Sekandar--that is, Alexander the Great--records historical persons and events. In the concise, informative introduction, Davis calls attention to the entire book's recurrent themes of father-son conflict and contrast between kings and heroes, the latter of whom are nobler in character than the former; indeed, so noble that they invariably decline the throne when it is proffered to them. Davis encourages viewing both themes as reflections of a detached and critical attitude toward formal power and markers of a humane spirit that has allowed the epic to persist as the supreme classic of its nation. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.