Barthesian Narrative Codes as a Technique for the Analysis of Attar’s ‘Sheikh San’an’

Document Type : Research Papers


1 INPEX Group

2 Ph.D. Student of Cultural Sociology


Mystic literature (Irfān) in general and Sufi literature in particular has always been alluring to the scholars interestingly working in different fields from literary, religious, philosophical, historical to other fields which may have little in common. Among Sufi theologians, Farid ud-Din Attar Neishabouri is the one whom no one has ever been able to surpass in creating works which have richly furnished Persian literature with mystic ideas and images of Sufis. Attar is a prolific author but, among his works, Mateq at-Tair, or The Conference of the Birds (Darbandi and Davis, 1984) is generally known as his magnum opus which has earned a worldwide reputation. Though all the tales of this book are artfully well made in their own right, the story of ‘Sheikh San’an’, without doubt, is second to none. Recently a large number of scholars have tried to interpret the tale with the aid of various methods, both traditional and modern, in order to give a better understanding of its implications. This paper is also intended to investigate ‘Sheikh San’an’, this time, in terms of Roland Barthes’s five codes of narrative (proairetic, hermeneutic, semic, symbolic and cultural). The reason to choose this approach is to employ the codes in mystic literature and to verify if it is possible to uncover some esoteric concepts which might have still remained untold about this story.


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