Pre-Modern and Early Modern Persian Literature: Written while Travelling?

Document Type: Research Papers


Associate Prof. of Iranian Studies University of Copenhagen, Denmark


In literary histories written in both Iran and the West it has generally be assumed that early modern Persian literary works are (technically inferior) copies of Western literary works. This has been and is still a claim. Almost no academically and scientifically sound works has substantiated this claim. While there is no point in denying a European influence on early modern Persian literature, there is a need of looking at earlier indigenous Persian literary works in order to see if there are other beginnings or influences on early modern Persian literature. This paper intends to show that Persian travelogues from the 19th century, and especially Hâj Sayyâh’s Safarnâme, reflects a new world view which is a forerunner of the world view that can be found in early modern(ist) Persian literature, indicating that developments in 19th century literary works and intellectual history of Iran also has a role to play in influencing later literature, next to European literary influence. The paper is a description of some aspects of Hâj Sayyâh’s Safarnâme compared to one of the earliest modern(ist) pieces of literature, Mohammad ‘Ali Jamâlzâde’s short story Bile dig, bile choghondar.


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