Justice and Injustice in a Society Ruled by Scoundrels

Document Type: Research Papers


Research Fellow at Shiraz University Centre for Children's Literature Studies, Hamburg, Germany


This paper concentrates on a close study of the long Persian tale “Divān-e-Balkh” (The Court of Balkh) having an artfully devised plot that satirizes a fake facade of justice. After an introduction which focuses on tale types ATU 890and ATU 1534, a summary of tale is provided for those who have not read it. Then the main characters are studied. Further, a Persian old variant (“The Kazee of Emessa”), two English variants (a variant in the medieval poem, Cursor Mundi and a ballad, “Gernutus, the Jew of Venice”),and two German variants (Meistergesang, “Kaiser Karl’s Recht” and the ballad, “Kaiser Lucius’ Tochter”) are briefly reviewed. References are made to other variants and the relations between the texts are studied. The “Fleischpfand”[Flesh-bond] story and its representation in the tales in question has also been reviewed narrowly. Furthermore, it is shown that nearly all features of Bakhtin’s concept of carnivalesque-grotesque, as enumerated by Davidson (2008), are most skillfully displayed in “Divān-e Balkh”. The study of “Divān-e-Balkh” illustrates that justice is meaningless when the society is ruled by a group of scoundrels. In this story, ideology and religious jurisprudence are satirized, and the paradoxical strength-weakness of the feminine body and the way it subverts masculine gaze against masculine power is clearly displayed. Accordingly, “Divān-e Balkh” narrated by Sobhi, deserves to be considered as an exceptional tale, not only in Persian literature but also in world literature.


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