ادبيات مدرن داستاني در ايران
Center for Iranian Studies
FESTIVALS VIII – FISH
Bibliotheca Persica Press, New York
Eisenbrauns Inc., Winona Lake, Indiana
i.Traditional Forms(See Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol.XI)
ii(b). The Novel
ii(c). The Short Story.
ii(d). The Post-Revolutionary Short Story.
ii(e). Post-Revolutionary Fiction Abroad.
ii(f). By Persians in Non-Persian Languages.
ii(g). In Afghanistan (See Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol.XI).
ii(h). In Tajikistan. (See Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol.XI).
IN PERSIA *
The long reign of Naser-al-Din Shah (1848-96) and the Constitutional Revolution a decade after his death witnessed the gradual emergence of modem fiction in Persia. Several social and historical landmarks, most notably in education and journalism, had a direct effect on the development of the new and basically imported literary genres of fiction. The advent of the printing press in the second decade of the nineteenth century; the creation of the Dar al-fonun (q.v.) in Tehran in 1851, offering a modem curriculum taught by Persians and Europeans; the gradual rise in the number of students sent abroad (see EDUCATION xxi) and the concomitant sudden rise in the number of translations, both scientific and literary; and, perhaps most important of all, the increase in the number and range of newspapers (see CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION vi and vii) all had a direct impact on the rise of fiction, affecting, and in a sense creating, its readers, writers, and especially the manner and the matter of its contents.
Alongside these landmarks and partly because of them, there were more nebulous but no less important changes in the way individuals saw themselves and the world about them, exemplified in both the growth of an introspective authorial voice in the narrative on the one hand, and realistic down-to-earth detailed description of everyday life on the other. These new trends heralding a new sensibility can be detected in most genres of prose, including historical works and travel books. The wry observations of MirzA `Ali Khan Amin al-Dawla (q.v. 1844-1904) in his portrait of Shaikh Ja'far Torsizi, sketched in his account of his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1898 (Bahar, pp. 381-83; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima I, pp. 276-77) has much in common with similar clerical portraits by Mohammad `Ali Jamalzada (q.v.: 18951997) and Sadeq Hedayat (q.v.; 1903-51) in the next century. In fact, the origins o£ modern Persian fiction are usually traced by literary historians to a number of politicians and political activists in the 19th. century whose primary aims were not to create fictional works but to change what they saw as the perilous state of the country through the use of clear vigorous prose, malleable enough to express and spread notions of reform and the new gospel of modernity as widely as possible. This primarily pedagogic and utilitarian approach towards creating a littérature engagee remains dominant to the present day both for writers and critics in Persian.
Most of these early political reformers and activists spent a major part of their lives abroad, writing articles and letters contrasting the dire conditions of Persia with the relative freedom and the rule of law that they witnessed abroad. One of the most famous and controversial of these was Mirza Malkom Khan Nazem-al-Dawla (1833-1908), noted for his polemical pamphlets such as Ketabca-ye Ghaybi (The Oracular Notebook; 1859); the many articles he wrote for his newspaper Qanun; and for his voluminous correspondence with other reformers, including Mirza Fath-'Ali Akhundzada (q.v., 1812-78). For both of them, reform was an all encompassing matter and included not only law and politics, but also language and literature. They sought the reform of the alphabet (Algar, p. 291) and denounced ornate prose styles for being vacuous and for creating needless barriers to genuine thought and clear thinking (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 1, pp. 32022).
Although writing mostly in Azeri Turkish, Akhndzada had even a greater and more immediate impact on the development of Persian literature and literary criticism (Parsinejad, 1988, pp. 19-36). His blunt ex cathedra statements on classics of Persian literature prefigure those of Ahmad Kasrawi in the next century. He singles out Ferdowsl and Nezaml's narratives as the only examples in Persian in which style and content are in unison and hence achieve a measure of verisimilitude (Akhundzada, pp. 31-32); and he deconstructs the different layers of the Matnawi in a memorably vicious diatribe (ibid., pp. 35-42). The publication in 1874 of the translation of all his plays, together with his short story Dastan-e Yusof Sah ya Setaragan-e Farib Khorda (The Tale of King Joseph, or The Duped Stars), a satirical reconstruction of an episode from Eskandar Beg's Tarik-e 'Alamara-ye `Abbasi (I, pp. 473-77), was a landmark in the history of Persian fiction. Dastan-e Yusof Sah has been referred to as the first example of Persian fiction proper (Adamiyat, 1970, pp. 49-53; 'Abedini, 1987-98, L pp. 20-21), and the successful use of colloquialisms in the realistic dialogues in this story and in the plays heralded the introduction of unstilted direct speech in Persian fiction.
Too great an emphasis, however, should not he placed on any particular individual with regard to the formation of Persian fiction in this period. It would be more accurate to think in terms of a new climate of opinion where many voices expressed ideas and demands which would have been barely understood half a century earlier. Some of Akhundzada's literary views, for example, are echoed in the works of Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani (q.v,; 1853-54/1896). He, too, dismisses most of classical Persian literature as either sycophantic verbiage or even worse, as a morally corruptive force (Parsinejad, 1990, pp. 541-66), He, too, exempts Ferdowsi from this mass denunciation by pointing out that the only Persian poet praised by European men of letters (odaba'-e farangi) was Ferdowsi, and that although the Shanama was not altogether devoid of hyperbole, it did instill courage and patriotism (hobb-e melliyat wa jensiyat) in Persians (mardom-e Iran) and improve their state of morality (Aryanpur. Az Saba ta Nima 1, pp. 393-94). All these themes, including nationalism (combined paradoxically with an obsession with what "others," the farangis, think of "us") and the concept of literature and particularly fiction as a weapon for propagating enlightened secular morality, occur repeatedly in the writing and criticism of fiction in Persia over the course of the next century.
The period leading to and including the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11 saw the appearance of major literary landmarks, including Ketab-e Ahmad ya Safina-ye Talebi (The Book of Ahmad, or Talebi's Vessel; 2 vols., Istanbul, 1893-96) and Masalek al Mohsenin (The Ways of the Charitable, Cairo, 1323/ 1905) by `Abd-al-Rahim Talebof (Talebov; 1854-1911; Yusofi, pp. 73-107). The very title of the first book is suggestive of its Janus-faced position in fiction. The first part looks forward to later autobiographical novels of moral and educational development, while the second harks back to the classical tradition of poetical anthologies. It attempts to impart knowledge through a conversation with a gifted child (Ahmad), the information being a patchwork of geography, science, and social criticism (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima I, pp. 292-95). His second book, Masalek al-Mohsenin, like Siahat-nama-ye Ebrahim Beg ya Bala-ye Ta`aos-e u (The Travel Diaries of Ebrahim Beg, or The Pitfalls of His Patriotism; Cairo, 1895) by Zayn-al-`Abedin Maraga'i (1837-1910), is a fictional travel narrative in which the anarchic tyranny and backwardness of the country are depicted in an episodic manner (Parsinejad, 1991, pp427-40). Although possibly inspired by Sir Humphry Davy's Consolations in Travel, or the Last Days of a Philosopher (1830), Talebof's Masalek al-Mohsenin also resembles, in its loose structure filled with incidents of everyday life, the picaresque novels of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century which heralded the rise of modern fiction in Europe.
The nineteenth century in Persia was an age of personal diaries and travelogues, and the above fictional travelogues studied in the context of earlier travel diaries from the somewhat fanciful and mystical Bostan al-siaha (q.v.). to the seemingly more matter of fact contemporaneous accounts of daily observations by many Qajar princes and officials, illustrate the changes in the perception of the world in these early days of modem fiction.
Bibliography (See Encyclopeadia Iranica, Vol. IX).
(SIMIN BEHBAHANI AND EIR.)
Literary history does not usually follow the smooth path of an evolutionary process. Some writers limit themselves to period pieces, and others write books whose latent significance becomes apparent decades later, Both creative development and the longevity of some authors, as in the case of Mohammad-`Ali Jamalzada (1895-1997) and Bozorg `Alawi (19071997), make categorization and periodization difficult. Nonetheless, the long period from the end of the 19th. century to the last decade of the 20th. century may be divided into three generations of writers-a framework which has been adopted here in order to clarify the patterns of change in themes and techniques of narration that have shaped the history of the Persian novel to the present time.
THE PIONEERS (1895-1941)
In the previous section, reference has already been made to some early experiments in fiction in Persia, notably in the genre of fictitious travelogues. Among the factors of crucial importance for the development of the novel were newspapers and the legacy of the early translations from European, mostly French, literature. Many eminent literary figures of the time, including `Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda (q.v.; 1880-1956), Mohammad-Taqhi Bahar (q.v.; I886-1951), Mohammad-`Ali Forughi (q.v.; 1877-1942), Mohammad Ghazvini (1877-1949), `Abbas Eqhbal Ashtiani (q.v.; 1896/97-1956), and Said Nafisi (1895-1976) were either themselves journalists and editors or contributed influential articles to current journals. Although, with the notable exception of Dehkhoda and Nafisi, they were not directly involved with fiction, they were instrumental in the development of Persian prose, illustrating through their work the fact that familiarity with other cultures and languages need not result in abstruse styles and dependence on foreign loan-words. One might say that Dehkhoda's Charand parand (q.v.). to a certain extent, "owed its success to the fact that it was intelligible to ordinary folk and at the same time entertaining to the intellectual elite and sophisticated men of letters" (Sa'idi Sirjani, p. 218).
The translations from European novels like Le Comte de Monte Cristo (tr. 1892) and Les trois Mousquetaires (tr. 1899) by Alexandre Dumas pere, and Mirza Habib Esfahani's (q.v.; d. 1315/1897) translation, or rather adaptation from the French (published posthumously in 1905), of James Morier s The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan were significant for two reasons. First, their descriptive techniques were sometimes emulated by Persian novelists, as a comparison between two passages in Les trois mousquetaires and Eshq o Saltanat ` (see below) demonstrates (Sepanlu, 1993, pp. 27-28). In the case of The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, the satirical portrait of the age was part and parcel of the narrative fiction of the turn of the century, and the first two decades of the twentieth, a period that could aptly be called the golden age of satire in poetical invectives, political ballads, and fictional and journalistic prose. Secondly, the very popularity of these imported novels indicated the emergence of a new reading public, mainly urban and middle class, with new tastes and preferences, and with time to allot to reading in the privacy of their homes (Gheissari, 1998, p. 51; Kamshad, 1966, pp. 2129: Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 1, p. 26).
The historical novel
The first genre of fictional prose to attract a significant readership in this period was the historical novel (Yusofi, pp. 185-233). MohammadBagher Mirza Khosravi (1850-1919), a minor Qajar prince of somewhat reduced circumstances, was the author of a trilogy: Shams o Tagra, Mari-e Venisi (The Venetian Maria), and Togrol o Homay, all three published in Kermansah in 1910. These three inter-linked historical love stories, sharing their eponymous characters, were set in the thirteenth century during the Mongol invasion of Persia, and were influenced by both French novels of adventure and by themes from classical Persian narrative poetry, particularly by Nizami's Khosrow o Shirin. The trilogy exemplifies many of the common traits of the historical novels of the period. The author attempts to entertain the reader by swashbuckling episodes reminiscent of Les trois mousquetaires without neglecting his pedagogical mission. Acting as a well-informed Cicerone, he takes his readers on a guided-tour of ancient sites and places and introduces them to famous figures from the past, including the poet Sa'di who plays an important role in the plot, and officiates at the (temporary) marriage of the hero and the heroine (Machalski, 1956, pp. 149-63; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 11, p. 240-45).
Shaikh Musa Nasri (b. 1882, d. ?), the director of Nosrat school in Hamadan, was another provincial writer of historical novels. 'Esq o Saltanat ya Fotuhat-e Kourosh-e kabir (Love and Kingship, or the Victories of Cyrus the Great) was the first part of his historical trilogy published in Hamadan in 1919, with a benefaction from the local magnate, Amir Nezam Gharagozlu, and later reprinted in Bombay (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, p. 252; Kamshad, p. 45). It claimed to be "the first novel (roman) composed in Persia in the Western fashion" (Browne, Lit. Hist. of Persia IV, p. 464) and based its plot directly on sections from Herodotus, French publications on the Achemenids, the Avesta, and Les trois mousquetaires (Sepanlu, 1992, p. 27). The same historical era was the period chosen by Hassn Badi' Nosrat-al-Wozara' (1872-1937) for his Dastan-e bastan ya Sargozasht-e Kourosh (An Ancient Story, or the Life of Cyrus, 1920). His plot focuses on the episode of Bijan o Manija (see BIJAN) from the Shah-nama. His attempt to make this plot historically plausible by also incorporating and citing Herodotus and European scholarship was not altogether successful (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, pp. 254-55; Kamshad, p.46). `Abdoal-Hosayn San'atizada (1895-1973) was a prolific writer in many genres, including science-fiction, who began his long literary career as a historical novelist. His Damgostaran ya Enteghamkhahan-e Mazdak (The Ensnarers, or The Avengers of Mazdak) was published in two parts, the first in Bombay, 1339/1921-22 and the second in 1344/1925-26 in Tehran (Browne, Lit. Hist. of Persia IV, p. 466; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, pp. 255-58; Kamshad, 1966, pp. 47-50), although the date of composition and the contribution of others to the contents of the first volume remain a matter of debate (Adamiyat, 1967, pp. 55-56). Mention should also be made of Zayn-al-`Abedin Mo'tamen (b. 1914), whose Ashiana-ye `Oghab (The Eagle's Nest, 1939) was a popular historical novel of the late Reza Shah era. The book in ten volumes evolves around an adventurous love story in which historical figures such as Khaja Nezam-al-Molk and Hasan-e Sabbah appear as key characters. Hosayn Masrur (1888-1968) is yet another historical novelist of the period, whose most significant story, Dah Nafar Ghezelbash (The Ten Kizilbash), first appeared in installments from 1948 onwards in the newspaper Ettela'at (q.v.), and it was later published as a book in five volumes (1956).
Other writers of historical novels include Zabih Behruz (q.v., 1889-1971), author of Shah-e Iran o Banu-ye Arman (The Persian King and the Armenian Lady, 1927), who was famous for his satirical and facetious works and for his eccentric views on language and history; and Hosayn Roknzada Adamiyat (1899-1973), editor of the weekly paper Adamiyat (q.v.), whose Daliran-e Tangestani (The Heroes of Tangestan, 1931) was one of the few early novels directly concerned with contemporary history (Kamshad, 1966, pp. 41-51; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 11, pp. 238-58).
On the whole, these books convey a curious blend of nostalgia and factual information about the past glories of Persia, gleaned from historical chronicles and the scholarly research of contemporary Orientalists. Their naive attempt to achieve historical credibility, often ending instead in anachronisms, imbues them with the charm of primitive paintings. Some modern critics however, dismiss their authors as provincial die-hands and escapist dreamers, untouched by the realities of the day (`Abedini, 1987-98,1, pp. 28-33). Their romantic nationalism, expressed in the glorification of pre-Islamic Persia and denunciation of the Arab invasion, was in conformity with cultural currents which ultimately became not only pan of the official Pahlavi state propaganda, but also surfaced later in the works of writers seldom associated with conservatism, such as Hedayat and 'Alawi (Meskub, pp. 25-31).
The Social Novel.
Although the advent of the Pahlavi era introduced a new and systematically vigilant form of state censorship which discouraged accurate depiction of contemporary historical episodes and personages in fiction, the dynamic drive for social protest survived and was channeled into other fields. Novels primarily describing social conditions, influenced by the literary naturalism of European novelists like Emile Zola, appeared in quick succession, with woman and city as their two major themes (Meskub, p. 90). The betrayed ideologies of the Constitutional movement (.Ajudani, 1997, p. 49; Karimi-Hakkak, 1995; `Ebadian, pp. 7598), were well represented in the versified drama Ide'al-e Pir-mard-e Dehghan (The old Peasant's Ideal Wish, 1924) by Mirzada 'Esghi (q.v,; 1894-1924) and generated a recurrent theme in the fiction of this period: a juxtaposition of the city and the village, the innocent peasant girl and her promiscuous urban counterpart. It marked the genesis of a problematic process by which the Persian woman of literature left the realm of fantasy to enter the real world. Although she now appeared in a seemingly more realistic manner, she was still, in the hands of her male creators, essentially a stereotyped victim of the sinister forces of modernity. In this period, "deep-rooted political, social, and religious traditions were either being obliterated or else sustained the shock of impact with modem Western institution and theories" (Kamshad, 1966, pp. 83-84); and in the novels, this uneasy coexistence produced diametrically opposed protagonists, conversing across an unbridgeable hiatus, unable to meet (Meskub, p. 170). Moreover, in spite of their propensity for long maudlin ruminations and "pious social postures" (Yarshater, 1988, p- 34) many of the novelists described below were in the business of increasing the circulation numbers of the journals in which their novels first appeared as installments by titillating the public with their coy eroticism.
The dark satanic city, the quintessential metaphor for the inexorable forces of modernity, lurks in the very title of Morteza Moshfegh Kazemi’s (1902-77) Tehran-e Makhuf (The Horrible Tehran), a somewhat rambling depiction of love, greed, and prostitution, which appeared in two volumes in 1922. It was succeeded by a series of works by 'Abbas Khalili (1891-1971), such as Ruzgar-e Siah (Black Days, 1924) and Entegham (Revenge, 1925), both describing the plight of women. Other popular titles of the time were Shahrnaz (1926), by Sayyed Yabya Dawlatabadi (q.v.; 1863-1939), better known for his memoirs of the Constitutional and post-Constitutional periods, and Man Ham Gerya Karda-am (1, Too, Have Wept, 1934), by Jahangir Jalili (1909-39). But perhaps the most significant and no doubt the most outspoken writer of the genre was the journalist Mohammad Mas’ud (1905-17) whose Tafrihat-e shab (Nocturnal Pleasures, 1933), Dar Talash-e Ma'ash (Straggling to Earn a Living, 1933), Ashraf-e Makhlughat (The Noblest of Creatures, 1934), and Golha-i ke dar Jahannam Miruyand (Flowers That Sprout in Hell, 1943), with their atmospheric griminess, "made a stir by openly exposing the frustrations of the educated classes and urban civil servants with a mixture of humor and tragedy" (Yarshater, 1988, p. 34). His outcries of pain and entertaining humor couched in a colorful colloquialism are reminiscent of Erich Maria Remarque's Im Westen Nichts Neues, which was translated into Persian in 1930 and whose style seems to have influenced Mas`ud (Khanlari, p. 153). Some of the above novelists had turbulent lives; Mas'ud was assassinated and Jalili committed suicide. They have left behind a mixed critical reception. Some modern critics ('Abedini, 1987-98, 1, pp. 44-45) regard their work as an improvement on the regressive romanticism of the writers of the historical novels but complain of the mixture of nihilism and sentimentality in their depiction of fallen women and feckless young men. Some others, however, highlight the despotic nature of Reza Shah's regime as the main contributing factor to the decline of Persian prose literature in this period (Kamshad, 1966. p, 63).
The novels of both Mohammed Hejazi (q.v.; 19001973) and `Ali Dashti (q.v.; 1896-1981), who either throughout or during a substantial part of their lives were pan of the ruling establishment, evolve around the character of their eponymous heroines with alluring names, some of which had by then become popular among the more secular urban middle classes of the time, like Homa (1927), Parichehr (1929), and Ziba (1931) by the former, and Fetna (1949), Jadu,(1952), by the latter. Although different in many ways, the two writers were similar in their descriptions of love and ambition among the middle and upper middle classes and both satisfied the needs of an audience which a few decades later would turn to television dramas (Kamshad, 1966, pp. 69-84).
In Ziba, generally regarded as his best novel, Hejazi succeeds in invoking the atmosphere of a whole decade in a complex but well-structured plot and exposes the prevalent moral corruption-the underlying cause for which he did not attribute to the ruling regime of the time-without exaggerated recourse to hectoring and preaching. Hejazi's prose is characterized by a smooth, mellifluous quality based on his apt choice of words tempered with echoes of classical lyric poets, Saadi and Hafez in particular. During Reza Shah's reign, Hejazi was easily the most popular Persian writer, especially attractive to young people whose romantic impulses drew them to Hejazi's stories and descriptions. The rapturous praise of Hejazi's style and sentiments by Mohammad-Taghi Bahar, the major poet of Persia since the bazgasht-e adabi (q.v.), reflects the appreciation accorded him before Persian intellectuals became polarized by the spread of communism among them and the advent of the Tudeh party. Hejazi, a politically conservative anti-Communist and Soviet-hater, was severely criticized (or ignored) by the leftist intellectuals, who called his work childish, sickly sweet, fit only for teenagers, and vacuous, a judgment that is not substantiated by either his popularity or his corpus.
Dashti's turbulent life and idiosyncratic works and translations, including a number of popular monographs on literary criticism, epitomize the inherent contradictions in modern Persian culture. His translation of Samuel Smiles' Self Help, the embodiment of so-called Victorian values and virtues, attracted a wide readership (Knorzer, p. 108), while his sardonic novellas with their galaxy of social-climbers with shady pasts, femmes fatales, and their duped and doomed idealistic victims, also enjoyed a wide circulation. The urge to instruct, an undercurrent in most Persian novels described so far, is also present here. But instead of factual details about the glories of pre-Islamic Persia as in the historical novels mentioned before, the reader is told how to set the table in an elegant modern way without appearing vulgar and nouveau riche (see Jadu, 4th printing, 1975, pp. 120-21). Dashti's style is immediately recognizable by his original choice of vocabulary, which draws when necessary from both Arabic and French terms, a result of his early training in religious sciences and his later familiarity with French. The urbanity of his style and motifs reflects to a certain extent his own inclination or predilection for the good life--good food, good reading, deep interest in the humanities; what might be characterized as the qualities of a bon vivante, an aspect of his life quite separate from his politics.
Newspapers and magazines continued to publish serialized romance and adventure-laden novels. Among the most prolific authors in this genre was Hosayngholi Mosta'an (1904-83), whose literary fame rested solely upon his sentimental, gushing, and adventure-laden love stories serialized in the press and enjoyed in particular by teenagers. He translated many stories and penned many more. His translation of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (1928-31) brought him immediate recognition and had a great impact on the style of writing of his contemporaries. Aafat, arguably his most popular serialized story, appeared in over three hundred installments (1951-56) in Tehran- e Mosavar, a popular weekly magazine. It is set in the World War I years in Tehran and revolves around the life, crimes, and love affairs of a Western educated Persian general. Javad Fazel (1915-61) published most of his over-sentimental love stories in Ettelaat-e haftagi. The titles of his stories, such as Eshgh o Ashk (Love and Tears, 1948), Man To-ra Dust Daaram (I Love You, 1962), and Be Yad-e Man Bash (Remember Me, 1963) hint at their mawkish contents. The noted journalist and writer Sadr-al-Din Elahi also wrote several serialized novels during this period and under different names in Tehran-e Mosavar. Serialized stories were published in a more or less continuous stream into the next years by many authors such as Majid Davami and Manuchehr Moti'i. After a brief interruption following the Revolution of 1978-79, such writing resumed with intensity and culminated in the works of many female writers.
Mohammad Ali Jamalzada, noted mainly for his short stories, published his first novel Dar al-Majanin (The Lunatic Asylum) in 1942. It is an intricate account of a set of characters detained in an asylum. They are not depicted as social types emblematic of different and contradictory forces in the Persian society of the time, as was the case in the author's earlier stories in Yak-i Bud Yak-i Nabud, but complex individuals hovering in the shifting sands between sanity and madness (Katouzian, 1998, pp, 4968; Farzana, pp. 38-46). His second novel, Gholtashan Divan (1946), on the primordial battle between good and evil, was followed by the publication of Rahaab-nama (The Story of the Aqueduct, 1948) and Sar o Tah-e Yak Karbas ya Esfahan-nama (1955; tr, W. L. Heston as Isfahan is Half the World: Memories of a Persian Boyhood, Princeton, 1983), a bildungsroman in two volumes. Critics (Kamshad, 1998, p, 112; Baraheni, 1969, p. 561) often make a distinction between the early works of Jamalzada which they praise for their novelty and clarity, and his later works, which they consider as overtly didactic and out of touch with the Persian society they endeavor to describe from a comfortable distance, but this view has recently been challenged by at least one critic (Katouzian, 1998, p, 50).
The early social novel, with its preoccupation with sensationalist plots and its lack of interest in stylistic innovations, was discarded by a new generation of writers who had begun to experiment with new techniques in the years before the advent of the Second World War. Sadegh Hedayt, acclaimed for both his short stories and novellas, was to have a lasting impact on the course of Persian fiction in this century. His writings cover many genres. Besides his short stories and articles on literature, his book on Omar Khayyam, folklore, and translations from French (Golbon, pp. 1953), he wrote five long stories: Alawiya Khanom (q.v.: 1933, tr. Ch. Reyhani into French as Mme. Alavieh, Paris, 1997); Buf e Kur (q.v.; 1937; tr. D. P. Costello as The Blind Owl, London, 1957; tr. R. Lescot into French as La chouette aveugle, Paris, 1953); Ab-e Zendagi (The Water of Life, 1944:. M.E. and F. Farzana as L'eau de jouvence, Paris, 1996), Haji Agha (1945, tr. G, M. Wiekens as Haji Agha: Portrait of an Iranian Confidence Man, Austin, Tex., 1979; tr. into French by G- Lazard as Hadji Agha Paris, 1996), and Fardaa (1946; tr. L. Ray as-- Tomorrow, "New Left Review 24, 1964, pp.91-99). as well as several satirical sketches. Widely differing in their representations of life and humanity, taken together they offer a kaleidoscopic view of the 1930s and 1940s. In. Haji Agha, a satirical depiction of an avaricious, hypocritical, corrupt, and reactionary businessman of the bazaar, for example, the unresolved discord between corrupt tradition and crude modernity rinds an ideal home at his house. The Haji himself embodies all the contradictions of the society at large, becoming the microcosmic symbol of its disparities (Manafzada. p, 57).
The same ubiquitous discordance is also heard in the fugue-like composition of Hedayat's short novel Buf e Kur (q.v.), whose narrative techniques resist prescriptive judgments and classifications- In its structure, Buf-e Kur falls into two parts. It is narrated in the first person singular by a traditional artist obsessively engaged in painting the slim figure of an ethereal woman, whose haunting image he paints on pen-boxes. In the second part she is transformed into the woman he marries, and whom he ultimately murders. Throughout the novel, scenes and events reflect and echo each other, time does not follow a linear progression and dream and reality remain intertwined. The very ambivalence of the novel gives it a haunting effect that remains with the reader long afterwards. It has been translated into many languages and has generated a considerable amount of literary criticism. It was praised highly by the founder of the surrealist movement Andre Breton (in "Des Capucines violettes”; 'Medium 8, June 1953). As perhaps the most seminal work of fiction in Persian it has been both the subject of several illuminating attempts at "close reading” and explication de texte by Persian and western critics (Yarshater.1971; idem, 1979: Hillmann, 1978; Farzana: Beard, 1990; A. Nafisi, 1992; Shamisa; Katouzian, 1994; Yavari, 1995b; Sattari), as well as the victim of some hasty generalizations. While drawing on sources and resonances of world literature, Buf-e Kur remains strikingly Persian (Beard, 1990, pp. 1-42; Hillmann, 1988, p. 296: Yarshater, 1988, p. 332; Sepanlu, 1989, p. 27). Its influence on Persian fiction can be felt in the writings of later generations of experimental writers like Hushang Golshiri, Taghi Modarresi, and Bahram Sadeghi.
Bozorg Alawi (1907-97) was influenced, like Hedayat, by modern psychological theories and narrative techniques. His collections of prison stories, Waraq Pareha-ye Zendan (1941; tr, in Raffat, pp. 11596) and Nameha (The Letters, 1952), as well as his account of his own arrest and life in prison, Panjah o Se Nafar (The Fifty-Three, 1942), distinguish him as the first Persian writer to describe prison life in an objectively realistic manner, thus making a new departure from the classical genre of prison literature (habsiyat). His influence can be detected on later writings of the same genre (Raffat, pp. 2-11). Unlike other influential contemporary writers who have a range of literary works, Alawi's fame rests on only a few compositions. His acclaimed novel, Chashmhayash (1952, tr. J. O'Kane as Her Eyes, Lanham, Md., 1989), in which ideology, psychoanalysis, and romanticism smoothly blend into a poetical language, is a coherently depicted love story of an artist, who is a key figure of the underground opposition in the last years of Reza Shah's reign, and an educated girl of aristocratic background. Chashmhayash caused a considerable stir and enjoyed a wide readership (Kamshad, 1966, p. 120). `Alawi's works were banned in Persia between 1953-1979. His long short story "Mirza" (1968, J. Wilks as "Mirza" in H. Moayyad, ed., Stories From Iran: A Chicago Anthology 1921-91, Chicago, 1991, pp. 6185) and the novel Salariha (1979), written in exile, were published in East Berlin, His later works, such as Muryanaha (Termites, 1993), which tells the story of the last years of the Pahlavi regime from the perspective of an agent of the secret police, SAVAK, are of considerably less literary merit. (Abedini, 1987-98,11, pp. 30-35).
The 1940s marked a rare and short-lived period of freedom of expression in Persia when political and literary activity, especially of a polemical nature, flourished. This period also witnessed gradual changes and shifts in literary and linguistic taste and preferences. English replaced French as the foreign language of choice- Writers from the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries became increasingly popular, The gradual shift from preoccupation with story line and content (as in Jamalzada) to formal sophistication and internal coherence (as in Hedayat) found its early representation in the later works of some of the novelists of this generation. While some writers, such as Rasul Parvizi (1919-77) and Jalal AI-e Ahmad (1923-69), preferred traditional narrative techniques and followed a more or less realistic style, a newly-emerged generation, including the likes of Gholam-Hosayn Gharib (b- 1923), author of Afsana-ye Sarban (The Legend of the Camel Driver, 1948), experimented with surrealism, which had already been introduced into Persian literature by Hedayat. The diversity of literary trends was well manifested in the First Congress of Iranian Writers, sponsored by the Perso-Soviet Society (Tehran, 1946), which, although preponderantly leftist in sympathy, allowed opposing views to he heard and produced a level of sophistication in its often vigorous debates which was not equaled for some years to come, It should be noted that a second wave of novelists, such as Behadin (Mahmud E'temadzadeh), Sadegh Chubak, Simin Daneshvar, and Al-e Ahmad, started their literary career in this period, but their most important works appeared about or after 1953.
THE MIDDLE GENERATIONS (1953-1979)
This period falls between two momentous historical events with profound reverberations on the nation's psyche; the coup d'etat of 1332 (1953), which overthrew the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh, and the Revolution of 1978-79, ending the Pahlavi era. It was a period of tumultuous literary and cultural transformations. Works of form-conscious American novelists, such as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner, were translated into Persian and much admired- French writers, especially Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre, were also influential, particularly as both wrote on the relationship between politics, philosophy, and literature, although from differing stances. The first part of the period, 1953-1963, in which a new literary generation, whose political ideals had been betrayed, came of age, is generally remembered as a decade of disappointments and regrets. The aggressive social criticism of earlier years was replaced by self criticism and introvert romanticism. The period as a whole was marked by two dominant and conflicting literary trends: populism and modernism. Modernist writers, discarding the confines of social realism, prominent in populist oeuvres, strove to redefine the then current concepts of commitment in literature,
Sadegh Chubak (1916-95) selected his protagonists from the lower echelons of society and gave their mundane and uneventful lives a sense of grim dignity, He was the first writer of this generation to use the full potential of the dialogue as a narrative technique. Better known for his short stories, Chubak penned two novels, Tangsir (,1963; tr. F. R. C. Bagley and Marziya Sami'i as "One Man and His Gun" in Sadegh Chubak: An Anthology. Delmar, N. Y,1982, pp.13-181), and Sang-e Sabur (1966, tr- M. R. Ghanoonparvar as The Patient Stone, Costa Mesa, Calif, 1989). Tangsir, arguably Chubak's best work in his social realist phase, centers around the life of a Tangestani, a victim of injustice, who takes matters into his own hands, kills the oppressors, and becomes a regional hero, Tangsir was adapted into a successful screenplay directed by Amir Naderi in 1974. With Sang-e sabur, however, in which the techniques of stream of consciousness and interior monologue are skillfully deployed to delve into the inner thoughts of the characters, Chubak takes a more naturalistic stand to portray the disturbed mind of a religious serial killer, obsessed with murdering women he perceives as being morally corrupt (Baraheni, 1969, pp.696-741). Behazin (b. 1915), also noted for his fine translations of Western classics, wrote several collections of short stories, and a novel, Dokhtar-e ra'iyat (The Peasant's Daughter, 1951), which "presents the author's fantasy of the coming of social revolution and justice through the title character's (implausible) hopefulness and break from the serf class to enter the working class after years of oppression at the hands of the Gilani landlord class in the 1910s," (Hillmann, 1987, p, 79; cf. `Abedni, 1987-98, I, pp. 154-,55; Kamshad, 1966, p. 130).
Among the second generation of writers primarily concerned with social and political issues, Jalal Al-e Ahmad (q.v.) is a pivotal figure, deeply concerned with questions of social justice. economic transformation, intellectual and religious life, alienation, as well as cultural colonialism. He experimented with various types of narrative: polemical essays, travelogues. ethnographic reports, autobiography, as well as works of fiction (Dehbashi), pp. 21-22), In addition to short stories, he wrote three novels; Modir-e Madrasa (1958, tr, J. K. Newton as The School Principal, Minneapolis, 1974); Nun wa'l-Ghalam (1961, tr. M. Ghanoonparvar as By the Pen, Austin, Tex., 1988), and Nefirin-e Zamin (1966, The Curse of the Land). In all of them, as in most of Al-e Ahmad's works, the author is subsumed by the social critic. In Modir-e Madrasa, Al-e Ahmad, with his characteristically whimsical style, pours scorn on the absurdities of the curriculum and pedagogical methods of the existing educational system (which stands as a symbol for defects in society as a whole). Nefrin-e Zamin is Al-e Ahmad's lengthiest narrative, and contains a savage rebuttal of the government sponsored agrarian reforms to modernize traditional techniques of farming and irrigation. His dramatization of the circumstances of village life in Nefrin-e Zamin was later developed into a recurrent motif and appeared in the works of many novelists who succeeded him (Abedini, 1987-98, ll, pp, 111-64: Mirsadeghi, p. 632; Yarshater, 1984, pp. 53-55).
The publication of Ali-Mohammad Afghani's (b. 1925) monumental novel of social realism, over eight hundred pages long, entitled Showhar-e Ahu Kanom (Ahu Khanum's Husband, 1961) was an important literary event. One of its first reviews began by declaring that "without a doubt, the greatest Persian novel (roman) has been created," (Parham, p. 970). Although even this enthusiastic review contained several detailed criticisms of Afghani's uneven style, the book remains a classic of modern Persian fiction. Against a vivid panorama of a provincial town, the novel describes the life of a middle-aged baker who falls in love with an exciting young woman and takes her as his second wife. The triangular relationship, and the whole range of human passion, frailty, suffering, and even mischief that it generates, is described with much compassion and some psychological insight. The novel was later turned into a successful screenplay directed by Davud Mollapur in 1968. Afghani's later works, such as Shadkaman-e Darra -ye Qarasu (The Blissful Inhabitants of the Qarasu Valley, 1966), critical of local landowners; Dr. Baktas (1985); Hamsafarha (Travel Companions, 1988): and Mahkum be E'dam (On Death Row, 1991) did not become as popular as his first novel, and all suffer from an overindulgence in social and political commentary at the expense of plausibility and aesthetic considerations.
The works of Ebrahim Golestan (b. 1922) a modernist writer are interesting for their experiments in narrative techniques, sentence patterns, abandonment of linear plots, and cinematic delineation of scenes and episodes. Golestan made his literary debut with short stories, His only longer narrative, a satirical allegory; Asrar-e Ganj-e Darra-ye Jenni (The Secrets of the Treasure of the Haunted Valley, 1974) makes imaginative use of techniques of the cinema in its narrative. Its main character, a poor farmer who stumbles across a buried treasure in his field, "is a character in a twentieth century morality play. He is every Third Worlder who, because of an accident of history and geology, suddenly and without any The satirical content and its timing, appearing as it did during the years of the oil boom and mindless consumerism, was not lost to those who read the book and saw the film (directed by Golestan himself, 1974) before censorship caught up with it.
Taghi Modarresi's (1932-97) first novel Yakolya va Tanha i-e U (Yakolya and Her Loneliness, 1956) revolves around the forbidden love of Yakolya, the fictive daughter of an Old Testament king of Israel, for her father's shepherd. The love in which Yakolya takes refuge to escape her loneliness brings her banishment and wandering and intensifies her inescapable solitude. The biblical theme of the novel is couched in an appropriately poised and sober poetical language. It won the author instant fame, being chosen as the best book of the year by the influential literary journal Sokhan. His next book, Sharifjan, Sharifjan, published in 1965, fared less well. It dealt with the waning power of traditional landowners against increasing state control. Solitude and alienation, themes already prevalent in Yakolya va Tanha i-e U, were again dominant in his later novels, Ketab-e Adamha-ye Ghayeb (1989, translated by the author as The Book of Absent People, New York, 1986), Adaab-e Ziarat (1989, translated by the author as The Pilgrim's Rules of Etiquette, New York, 1989), and Azra-ye Khalvatneshin (The Virgin of Solitude, in progress), all written during his long sojourn in the United States. Those novels, penned in his self-imposed exile, "may represent a special category in which it is difficult to speak of an original and a translation: The Pilgrims Rules of Etiquette is not so much a translation of his Persian Adab-e Ziarat as a separate work emerging from the same creative process" (Beard, p. 448).
Bahram Sadeghi (1936-83), yet another modernist writer, is praised for both his several collection of short stories, some tinged with surrealistic humor, and his short novel Malakut (Heavenly Kingdom, 1961). Influenced by psychoanalytical theories both directly and through the influence of Hedayat, Malakut remains strikingly original. Sadeghi's characters, many of them failed government employees and frustrated intellectuals, are consumed by anxiety and terror, and at times even undergo Kafkaesque transmutations and mutilations. In Malakut, for example, the two protagonists -- the two sides of a coin -- confront each other like two scorpions engaged in a slow, measured dance of death (Abedini 1987-98, I, pp. 254-59; Sepanlu, 1992, pp. 115-17; San'ati).
In the second half of the period, Persian writers as a professional class, drew attention to their shared rights and responsibilities and formed in 1968 the Kanun-e Nevisondagan-e Iran (The Association of Iranian Writers), which took the lead in dealing with the problems of censorship and promoting the professional interests of the writers (Karimi-Hakkak, 1985). Meanwhile the number of writers proliferated. The palpable sense of loss and failure of the earlier years of the period, gave way to a positive drive to find the underlying causes of their present state and possible ways of its amelioration. Women novelists produced literary works of acclaimed quality. And the novel over took the short story as the most popular genre of creative fiction.
Contemporary history appeared as a major theme in the works of the second generation of historical novelists who, unlike those of the previous generation. searched the immediate past to highlight a plagued present. In Simin Daneshvar's (b. 1921) Savushun (1969, tr. M. Ghanoonparvar as Savushun: A Novel About Modern Iran, Washington, D.C., 1990: tr. R. Zand as A Persian Requiem, New York, 1991) the history of a family and that of Persia during the Second World War are woven together. The heroic stand taken by a southern family against British colonial intrigues ends in the murder of the husband, with the wife determined to carry on the struggle (Milani, 1992, p. 11). The first volume of Daneshvar's second socio-historical novel, Jazire-ye Sar gardani (The Island of Bewilderment), appeared in 1992, but failed to match the success of its predecessor.
The Mosaddegh era, the aftermath of the 1953 coup, and the Persia-Iraq War are the subject of Ahmad Mahmud's (b. 1931) historical trilogy; Hamsayeha (Neighbors, 1974), Dastan-e yak Shahr (The Tale of a City, 1991), and Zamin-e Sukhteh (Scorched Earth, 1982). Mostafa Rahimi (b. 1925) also portrays contemporaneous historical episodes in his Bayad Zendagi Kard (Life Must Go On, 1977).
The historical background of the popular comic novel by Iraj Pezeshkzad (b. 1927), Da'i jan Napel’eon (q.v., 1964, tr. D. Davis as My Uncle Napoleon, Washington, D. C., 1996) is also the post war years, a time of fundamental change in the social and political structure of the country. The novel and its subsequent serialization as a television show (by Naser Taghwa'i, 1975) were a huge success. The story revolves around the life of the narrator's uncle, a quixotic figure, sardonically and humorously named Da'i Jan Napel'eon, capable of seeing the conspiratorial hands of the British in the most unlikely places.
Jamal Mirsadeghi (b. 1933), author of several books on literary criticism and an advocate of realism and political activism, began his literary career by writing for the literary journal Sokhan. Primarily a short story writer, whose several collections of stories have shown his ability to capture the mood and sensibilities of the deprived and the downtrodden, and whose commitment to a left-of-center, liberal view of Persian events was so common among his contemporaries, Mirsadeqi has also produced an important novel, Baadha Khabar az Taghyir-e Fasl Midahand (The Winds Announce a Change of Season, 1984). It depicts the lives and development of a number of friends from low-income families and their vicissitudes in love, marriage, parental care, and above all in facing the abuses of an autocratic regime. Yarshater has called it a major novel of the period and a highly accomplished one in terms of its construction and economy (1986, p, 292), Among Mirsadeghi's other novels are Shab-Cherag (The Glittering Gem, 1976) and Atash az Atash (Fire from Fire, 1985).
The writings of Hushang Golshiri (b. 1937) are distinguished by their complex structure, vivid language, and subtle manipulations of narrative time. Shazdeh Ehtejab (1968, tr. M. R. Buffington as "Prince Ehtejab" in Hillmann, ed., 1976, pp. 250-303), Golshiri's highly acclaimed short novel, is a tortured journey of self-realization through the remembrance of things past. A collection of inherited clocks comes to life in the story and sounds the death knell for the prince as well as for the era of which he is the last bedraggled relic. Golshiri's skillful exploitation of stream of consciousness narration converts this story of outer actions into a drama of the life of the mind, Shazdeh Ehtejab was adapted into a successful screenplay directed by Bahman Farmanara (1974). In Kristin o Kid (1971), his second novel and another attempt to experiment with new narrative techniques of the nouveaux romans, the process of narration is treated as apart of the narrative- a technique he later developed and employed in some of his post-revolution works, including Ayinaha-ye dardaar (Mirrors With Doors, 1992), another journey of self-realization, undertaken this time by an intellectual novelist who travels to different European cities giving readings of the story he is writing (Kalantari, pp- 30-37; Okhowwat pp- 244-55). Here again his use of repetition of the same images and actions seen from different angles and perspectives, may imply a sisyphean attempt at capturing the totality of experience, the impossibility of which the writer himself is the first to admit (Abedini, 198798, II, p. 275). For him as for many post-modernist writers, the failure itself is a confirmation of the limitations of language and of illusions inherent in the process of writing. In the "Ma`sumeha" (The Innocents) series of stories, published in a collection entitled Namaaz-khana-ye kuchak-e man (My Little Prayer-Room, 1975), as well as in his longer work, Barra-ye Gomshoda-ye Ra'i (The Last Lamb of the Shepherd, 1977), Golshiri experimented with mythological themes and classical texts (A. Nafisi, 1986).
Hormoz Shahdadi is yet another writer who evokes the life of the time through the eyes of an intellectual, alienated from himself and filled with anxiety in his novel, Shab-e Howl (The Night of Terror, 1978), The narrative, characterized by its multi-layered .structure, benefits from Shahdadi's skillful use of extended interior monologues.
Esma'il Fasih (b. 1935) is distinguished among his contemporaries for his ability to interweave the history of a city and a nation, in the mid-decades of this century, with the history and development of a single family, whose members are the shared characters of most of his novels. Fasih's first novel, Sharab-e Kham (Immature Wine, 1966), a detective story, was followed by the publication of a series of novels, of which the most popular and outstanding is Del-kur (Blind-Hearted, 1970)- Most of Fasih's novels, however, have appeared after the Revolution of 1979.
The mismanagement of the economy during these years, manifested in rural exodus and urban shantytowns, provided the impetus for re-emergence of the village as a popular topos in the novels of the period. The village topos, as treated by the second generation of social novelists- however, did not resemble the idyllic pastorals of the Constitutional period as depicted by writers and poets such as Eshghi and Hejazi. Both the village and the city were now populated by anxiety-ridden characters.
Most of the work of Mahmud Dowlatabadi (b. 1940), including Owsena-ye Baba Sobhan (The Legend of Baba Sobhan, 1968), and Ja-ye Khali-e Saluch (The Empty Place of Saluch, 1979; German tr. by S. Lotfi as Der leere Platz van Solutsch, Zurich, 1991) transpire in the arid regions of northeastern Persia. Kelidar (published in 10 volumes, 1979-84), a monumental panorama of life in his native Khorasan, incorporates a variety of elements, rendering it into a well-substantiated documentary on the physical, social, and political features of the region and the abuses committed by landlords and government agents. Like Afghani's Showhar-e Ahu khanum, Kelidar won instant acclaim. It has been described by one critic as an "epic of decline" (Navvabpour, p. 433); Ehsan Yarshater called it "the greatest novel of the Persian language" (1987, pp. 1067). Using often poetic descriptions and a rich vocabulary of both regional and archaic words, Dowlatabadi's cadenced prose at times achieves the dignity and grandeur of an epic (ibid, Moayyad, 1988). His prose follows the epic technique of introducing heightened dramatic passages in the texture of the narrative to signal and describe its climactic moments (Yavari, 1989a). The first installment of Dowlatabadi's second multi-volume novel, Ruzgar-e Separi shoda-ye Mardoman-e Salkhorde (The Bygone Days of the Aged) was published in 1990.
Incessant rain and the mist-covered forests of the north are the settings of the novels by Akbar Radi (b. 1939), and Mahmud Tayyari (b. 1938), while the rural areas of the western part of the country are accurately portrayed in the fiction of `Ali-Ashraf Darvishian (b 1941), including his most recent novel Saal-e Abri (A Cloudy Year, 1993), in four volumes (Abedini, 198798, II, pp, 149-51).
THE POST-REVOLUTIONAY GENERATION
The Revolution of 1979, which was at first regarded by many writers as a unifying cause creating the possibility of their vision's fulfillment (Karimi-Hakkak, 1991, p. 513), and in which most of them took a more or less active part, was followed by a short lull in literary production. But before long, fiction re-emerged as the dominant vehicle of literary expression, taking advantage of the brief period of relative freedom after the revolution and before the re-imposition of strict censorship following the fall of Mahdi Bazargan's cabinet in 1981. More novels and short stories were written in this period than ever before. The writings of the period have a wide range, extending from heavy revolutionary polemics and depictions of prison, torture, and displacement to much lighter genres including detective stories. The period was also marked by the introduction of magical realism, a narrative mode which appeared initially in some universally acclaimed Latin American novels. It relies on the simultaneous existence of two contradictory levels of reality, natural and supernatural, and exploits the often grotesque juxtaposition of the two with implied irony or even downright black humor was also a time of great productivity in translations, both from and into Persian. And finally it heralded the establishment of women writers as a powerful literary force with their own concerns and ideologically varied but distinct identities.
Persian post-revolutionary fiction writers fall into two categories: those who had already established themselves as writers before 1979, and those who started their literary career chiefly after the revolution. Some of the writers from both categories joined the ranks of the revolution in its very early stages. Others, however, either gradually turned against the revolution or attempted to steer clear of the ensuing debates. Some went abroad, and wrote novels and short stories colored by sentiments of exile and separation (see below iii). The very first post-revolutionary works of fiction were produced by the established writers of the previous period, including Fasih, Dowlatabadi, Golshiri, and Mirsadeghi. Fasih's first post-revolutionary novel, Soraya dar Eghma (1983, tr. by the author as Sorroya in a Coma, London, 1985). evolves around the chaotic life of the very first Persian exiles in Paris. His powers of storytelling are in evidence in his tragi-comic evocation of recurrent post-revolutionary situations, as for rexample in the account of a bus journey out of Persia and the often comical reactions of the various passengers to the prevailing border restrictions. His second novel Zemestan-e Shast o Dow (The Winter of '62, 1987), the first novel on Iran-Iraq war, and arguably Fasih's best novel after the revolution, returns to the displacement and sense of loss within the country through the eyes of one of the familiar protagonists of his novels, Jalal Arian (Yarshater, 1989). It recounts his journey to the war front with Iraq and his encounters with a panoply of characters of different classes and political convictions, all displaced, and all grappling with the death of loved ones or contemplating the possibility or their own death. Fasih's later novels, such as Nama be Donya (Letter to the World) published in Washington in 1995, also explore themes of war and displacement.
In the post-revolutionary novels of Reza Baraheni, also the author of several books and many articles on literary criticism, robust critical views, hitherto enshrouded in an allusive style, are expressed more openly. His short novel Az Chah be Chah (From One Well to Another, 1983) evolves around the repeated incarceration of a politically active intellectual in the late Pahlavi era. His other recent novels include Avaz-e Koshtegan (The Song of the Slain, 1985), Razha-ye Sarzamin-e Man (Mysteries of My Land, 1987), and Azada Kanom wa Nevisanda-ash (Azadeh Khanum and Her Writer, 1988).
Jawad Mojabi (b. 1939) and Ahmad Agha'i (b. 1936) are among other already established novelists from the previous period with strong political convictions. Mojabi's allegorical novels, such as Shahrbandan (Curfew, 1987), and Shab-e Malakh (The Night of the Locust, 1990), and Mumiaii (Mummified, 1993), in which a pre-Islamic Persian king follows his own coffin throughout the centuries to highlight the historical roots of the present ills, and Aqai's Cheragani dar Bad (Illuminations in the Wind, 1988) are all impregnated with the horrors of dictatorship (Wajdi).
Shahrnoush Parsipur (b. 1945), who had already published her Sag o Zemestan-e Boland (The Dog and the Long Winter, 1976) before the revolution, won instant fame with the publication of Tuba wa Ma`na-ye Shab (Tuba and the Meaning of the Night, 1988), The novel, generally regarded as one of the first magical realist novels in Persian, is a retelling of Persia's recent history in connection with various phases in the eponymous heroine's life. As Tuba lives her long life, along with an assorted cast of relatives and political figures, the country undergoes fundamental transformations in the time span between the Constitutional era and the Revolution of 1979 (Yavari 1989, pp. 13041). The psychological transformation of women appears as a recurring motif in Parsipur's other works, including her collection of short stories, Zanan Bedun-e Mardan (1989, tr. By K. Talattof and J. Sharlt as "Women Without Men" in Middle East Literature in Translation, Syracuse, 1998) and `Aghl-e Abi (Blue Intellect, San Jose, Calif,, 1994). The Persian original of Prrsipur’s Khaterat-e Zendan (Prison Memoirs, 1996) was published in Los Angeles.
A number of younger writers are distinguished by focusing on local scenes, customs, and folklore in their works. Moniru Ravanipur's (b. 1954) writing, in a language strongly colored by her local dialect and influenced by magical realism, centers with few exceptions around the local myths and legends which take place in Jofra, a remote village on the Persian Gulf (Rahimieh, pp. 61-75; Lewis and Yazdanfar, p. 50; Falaki). She has written several collections of short stories and two novels: Ahl-e Ghargh (The People of Drowning, 1989) and Del-e Fulad (Heart of Steel, 1990).
Asghar Elahi, Naser Mo'azzen, Nasim Khaksar, Mohammad-Reza Safdari, Bahram Heydari, and `Adnan Ghorayfi are also among the regional writers whose works are permeated by the atmosphere and colors of their locality, providing along the way a wealth of ethnographic information. Qoqnusha-ye `Asr-e Khakestar (The Phoenixes of the Age of Ash, 1992), by Hasan Shekari, and the writings of Teyfur Bathayi are among the very first fictional accounts of the perennial political turmoil in Kurdistan.
Mohsen Makhmalbaf (b. 1957), a prolific writer of plays and film scripts and a cinematographer, was an acclaimed figure among the group of young writers who identified themselves strongly with the Revolution of 1978-79. Besides his short stories and screen plays, he has written two novels, Hawz-e Soltun (Soltun's pool [a salt-marsh near Ghom], 1984) and Bagh-e Bolur (The Crystal Garden, 1986), in which most characters, although from different backgrounds, tend to speak and act solely in the vocabulary and discourse of the ruling religious ideology (Gheissari, 1994; Yavari, 1990, pp. 61-74),
Psychoanalytic concepts and theories, employed by many Persian novelists in various forms and degrees, found a distinct niche in post-revolutionary fiction. 'Abbas Ma`rufi (b. 1957), a journalist and a writer, has succeeded in constructing points of coincidence between aesthetic and psychic structures in his first and most advanced novel. Samfoni-e Mordagan (Symphony of the Dead, 1989; it. into German by A. Gharaman-Beck as Symphonie der Toten, Frankfurt, 1996). An innovative adaptation of the biblical and koranic story of Cain and Abel, the novel evolves around the life and eventual death of two brothers and their tyrannical martinet of a father, in a society undergoing fundamental transformations (Tehranchian). Ma'rufi utilizes the Freudian model of the encapsulated id and superego to create a decentered structure, and to narrate the story, simultaneously, from different points of view (Yavari, 1995a). The narrative techniques of the novel have been compared to those of some western novelists, most notably Faulkner (Mahvizani, I, pp. 11-17). Ma'rufi employs the same narrative techniques in his other novels, such as Sal-e Balva (The Year of Catastrophes. 1992), and, in particular. Peykar-e Farhad (1995; tr. into German by A. Gharaman-Beck as Die dunkle Seite, Frankfurt, 1998), in which the male narrator recounts the tragic history of Persian womanhood from the perspective of the female character in Hedayat's Buf-e Kur (q.v.). Ja`far Modarres Sadeqhi (b. 1954), translator, editor, and also one of the few writers in this period using pre-Islamic motifs and myths, is another author under the influence of psychoanalysis, who also attempted to experiment with narrative techniques of the nouveaux romans. Among his more significant novels, which share protagonists, are Gavkhuni (1983), Safar-e Kasra (Kasra's Journey, 1989), a love story heavily colored with ideology and politics, and especially Nakoja-abad (Nowhere Land, 1990), which tells the story of the protagonist's encounter with the deep layers of the nation's collective unconscious, visualized in archetypes and symbols from pre-Islamic times. The turbulent final years of the Qajar era appear as a leitmotif in the fiction of this period. Amir Hasan Cheheltan (b. 1956) examined the history of the Constitutional movement from a female perspective in his innovative work Talar-e’Aineh (The Hall of Mirrors, 1991), a novel in five sections which evolves around the life of two sisters and their politically active father (Mahvizani, II, pp. 58-61). Cheheltan's latest work of fiction is Mehr Giah (The Mandrake, 1998). Reza Jula'i (b. 1950) narrated the horrors of Persia's two disastrous wars with Russia in his inspiring novel, Shab-e Zolmani-e Yalda wa Hadis-e Dordkeshan (The Longest Night of the Year and the Tale of the Tippler, 1990; Mahvizani, Ii, pp. 73-75). Jula'i has penned two other novels, Su'-e Ghard be Zat-e Homayuni (An Attempt on His Majesty's Life, 1995), and Javdanagan (The Immortals, 1997). The same period furnishes the historical background to (Khana-ye Edrisi-ha (The House of the Edrisis, 1992) by Ghazala `Alizada (1948-1995). A novel in four sections, Kana-ye Edrisi-ha is based on the interplay of geometrical forms, the circle, the square, and the number four, with the story narrated from four different perspectives. All three novelists endeavor to write in a language appropriate to the historical era in which their novels are set, with varying degrees of success. Immediate contemporary history has also been treated by many novelists of the period. Special mention should be made of Simin Daneshvar's autobiographical novel, Jazira-ye Sargardani (The Island of Bewilderment, 1992), which depicts the heady days before the Revolution of 1979. By creating a cast of politically confused and failure bound characters, the novel takes a critical stand toward underpinning ideologies of the revolution, particularly those advocated by AI-e Ahmad and his followers (Yavari, 1998). In Shams Langerudi's Rejeh bar Khak-e Puk (Parade on Hollow Ground, 1994), the narrator delves into the past to reflect on the uneasy relationship between tradition and modernity. The novels of Fereshteh Sari (b. 1955)- Morvarid Khatun (1990), Jazira-ye Nili (The Cobalt Blue Island, 1991) and Aramgah-e 'Aseghan (The Lovers' Mausoleum, 1995)-- and Shiva Arastu'i's Oura ke Didam Ziba Shodam (I Became Beautiful When I saw Him, 1993) are among many works of fiction of the period produced by women novelists that have won their authors immediate recognition.
The second half of this period has witnessed a broad reception for works of fiction written primarily for entertainment purposes. These period pieces are mostly written by women. Notable among them is the immensely popular Bamdad-e Khomar (The Morning After, 1996) by Fattana Hajj Sayyed Jawadi (b. 1942), which has achieved enormous popularity and has been reprinted many times. It depicts the story of two lovers from different social classes and the ensuing tragic outcome of their misalliance. Like some early historical novels, it idealizes a vanishing gentry, but instead of castigating the emerging bourgeoisie as villains, it is the working and lower classes who are portrayed here as ruthlessly rapacious and self-centered (Karimi-Hakkak, 1997, pp, 447-70: Dastghayb. 1997, pp. 283-92; but see the appreciative critique by 'AIi Ferdowsi, which points to the significance of the novel's symbolism in reflecting the author's negative view of recent upheavals in Iran). Serialized detective or love stories, mostly written also by women, have attracted a much wider readership in the 1990s and are interesting both thematically and structurally in as much as they reflect the manner in which aesthetic and social phenomena generate and complement one another. Serialized stories by Fahima Rahimi and Nasrin Sameni, reprinted several times with runs exceeding ten thousand copies, are more meaningful as social events than literary ones (`Abedini, 1993). They are mostly stories involving happy endings to forbidden romances.
Bibliography(See Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol.IX)
ii(C). THE SHORT STORY
Historically, the modern Persian short story has undergone three stages of development: a formative period, a period of consolidation and growth, and a period of diversity.The formative period was ushered in by Mohammad `All Jamalzada's collection Yak-i Bud Yak-i Nabud(1921; tr. H. Moayyad and P. Sprachman as Once Upon a Time, New York, 1985), and gained momentum with the early short stories of Sadeq Hedayat (1903-51).Jamalzada (1895-1997) is usually considered as the first writer of modem short stories in Persian. His stories focus on plot and action rather than on mood or character development, and in that respect are reminiscent of the works of Guy de Maupassam and 0. Henry. A typical Jamalzada short story evolves around some entertaining episode and often has a surprise ending. It has the appeal of traditional Persian folk tales (qessa), which are also plot-centered. The stories from Yak-i Bud Yak-i Nabud, which served as a blue-print for his subsequent works, can be defined as anecdotal fiction. Pleasant, entertaining, and glowing with colorful expressions, though lacking in depth and universal significance, these narratives are in essence witty satires about the chaos reigning in the Persian society of the period, exposing to ridicule its backwardedness, bigotry, and superstitions, and usually bearing an implied reformist or didactive message. His characters are often simple, illiterate people-the common folk. The prose is packed, sometimes to excess, with colloquialisms and proverbial expressions, for he was among the first writers to abandon the ornate artificial style of traditional writing and emulate the speech-patterns of ordinary conversations and the language of the folktale. This style had a deep influence on younger writers, making simple colloquial language the norm in modem Persian literature. However, the light-hearted tenor of his anecdotal fiction and the manner in which he constructed his plots found no following among younger writers and had little influence on the development of modem Persian short story.
In contrast, Sadegh Hedayat, the writer who introduced modernism to Persian literature, brought about a fundamental change in Persian fiction. In addition to his longer stories, Bgf-e kur (his masterpiece; see above ii.) and Haji Aqa (1945), he wrote collections of short stories including Seh Ghatra Khun (Three Drops of Blood, 1932; tr. into French by G. Lazard as Trois gouuttes de sang, Paris 1996) and Zenda be Gur (Buried Alive, 1930). His stories were written in a simple and lucid language, but he employed a variety of approaches, from realism and naturalism to surrealistic fantasy, breaking new ground and introducing a whole range of literary models and presenting new possibilities for the further development of the genre. He experimented with disrupted chronology"and non-linear or circular plots, applying these techniques to both his realistic and surrealist writings. Hedayat lived at what he regarded as a time of repression. The restrictive social climate cast a long shadow over his work, intensifying his pessimism and insecurity. Not surprisingly, almost all of his short stories finish either with the death or the suicide of the main character and few express emotions other than despair, philosophical perplexity, and psychological anxiety. His mode of thinking and narrative techniques left a lasting impression on other Persian writers.
In the early short stories of Buzorg `Alawi (q.v,, 1904-97), and especially in his collection Chamadan, (Suitcase, 1934), the reader encounters the same melancholic and confused characters as in Hedayat's fiction. However, `Alawi's arrest and imprisonment on account of his leftist activities brought a fundamental change to his work. Writing from prison, he brought a new sense of realism to a thematic sub-genre-- prison literature -- which in later years found a steady following among Persian authors (see above ii.), His collection of five short stories, Waraq-Paraha-ye Zendan (1941, tr. by Raffat, pp. 115-96), and especially the short stories "Entezar" (The Wait) and "`Afw-e `Omumi" (General Amnesty), reveal the plight of political and non-political prisoners in abominable prison conditions, and the harsh treatment meted out by government agents and prison wardens. `Alawi's later works, such as the short stories "Gila Mard" and "Namaha" in the collection Namaha (Letters, 1951), give vent to an angry, combative spirit with a strong sense of moral responsibility. Most of his mature works, written when he was a member of the Tudeh (communist) party, can be categorized as political short stories which explore the subject of social commitment. Unlike Hedayat, who focused on the psychological complexity and latent vulnerabilities of the individual, `Alawi depicts ideologically motivated personages defying oppression and social injustice. Such characters, seldom portrayed before in Persian fiction, are `Alawi's main contribution to the thematic range of the modem Persian short story. This commitment to social issues is emulated by Fereydun Tonokaboni (b. 1937), Mahmud Dawlatabadi (b. 1940), $amad Behrangi (q.v.; 1939-68), and other writers of the left in the next generation.
`Alawi's interest in lyrical and erotic themes is another distinctive trait of his writings, which sets his fiction apart from the works of Hedayat and from the writers of the next generation such as Jalal AI-e Ahmad (1923-69, q.v.) and Gholam-Hosayn Sa`edi (1935-85).`Alawi displays a remarkable talent for creating vivid female characters. The women in his stories are neither sanctified nor reviled, as often happens in the works of other Persian writers. For example, the heroines of sentimental and romantic authors like Mohammad Hejazi (1899-77) and 'Ali Dagn (1896-1981) often present a one-dimensional persona as fickle and treacherous coquettes. Modernists like Hedayat and Sadegh Chubak (1916-98), on the other hand, paint erotic scenes in a dreamy or naturalistic manner, often influenced by the tenets of psychoanalysis.`Alawi's writings also show the underlying influence of Freud but without appearing forced or doctrinaire. He succeeds in creating complex and multidimensional female characters and portrays physical love as natural, desirable, and pleasing. His treatment of gender issues influenced a later generation of writers like Jamal Mirsadeghi (b. 1933) in Derazna-ye Shab (Length of the Night, 1970). and Hushang Golshiri in Kristin o kid. The short spell of relative freedom which followed the abdication of Reza Shah in 1941 opened new horizons for the modern Persian short story. The ascendancy of the left and radical views in general and the influence of the Tudeh party in particular, culminating in the First Congress of Persian Writers in 1946, had a powerful and lasting effect on the majority of writers. The political changes in the country loosened the grip of censorship on the press. Before 1941 government censors targeted not only subversive political ideas, but also acted as moral guardians, banning swear-words or openly erotic scenes. Writers were forced to resort to oblique hints and stilted dialogues purified of any obscenities. This strict moral code affected nor only the subject matter, but also the language of literature.
Sadegh Chubak was one of the first authors to break the taboo. Following the example of William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Erskine Caldwell, and Ernest Hemingway, his blunt approach appears in the early short story collections Khayma Shab-bazi (The Puppet Show, 1945) and Antar-i ke Luti-ash Morda Bud (1949; tr. P. Avery as "The Baboon Whose Buffoon was Dead," New World Writing 11, 1957, pp. 14-24), Later stories like Zir-e Cheragh-e Ghermez, Pirahan-e Zereski, and Chera Darya Tufani Shoda Bud describe the naked bestiality and moral degradation of the personages with no trace of squeamishness. His short stories mirror rotting society, populated by the crashed and the defeated. Chubak picks marginal characters--vagrants, pigeon-racers, corpse-washers, prostitutes, and opium addicts-who rarely appear in the fiction of his predecessors, and whom he portrays with vividness and force. His readers come face to face with grim realities and incidents which they have often witnessed for themselves in everyday life but shunned out of their mind through complacency. This forced encounter is not to everyone's taste and explains the strong hostility that Chubak sometimes arouses, especially as his dark portrayal of depravities and squalor leaves little room for the potentially beautiful or joyous aspects of life. His language is rough and direct, with a profusion of proverbs, slang expressions, and street jargon. The spelling is mostly colloquialized. Some of his stories employ the syntactic structure of southern dialects from the Bushehr region.
A distinctive trait of post-war Persian fiction, in all the three stages of development, is the attention devoted to narrative styles and techniques, In matters of style two main trends prevail: Some authors, like Chubak and Al-e Ahmad, follow colloquial speech patterns; others, such as Ebrahim Golestan (b. 1922) and Mohammad E'temadzada "Behazin" (b, 1915), have adopted a more literary and lyrical tone. Although the work of all four writers stretch into later periods, some brief remarks about their differing techniques, which delineated future paths, need mentioning at the outset. Golestan experimented with different narrative styles, and it was only in two late collections of stories, Juy o Divar o Teshna (The Stream and the Wall and the Parched, 1967) and Madd o Meh (The Tide and the Mist, 1969) that he managed to find a style and voice of his own. His poetic language draws inspiration both from syntactical forms of classical Persian prose, and the experiments of modernist writers, most notably Gertrude Stein. The influence of modernism is evident also in the structure of Golestan's short stories, where the traditional linear plot-line is abandoned in favor of disrupted chronology and free association of ideas. Contrary to most other modern Persian authors, Golestan pays little heed to the state of the poor and the dispossessed. Instead, his short stories are devoted to the world of Persian intellectuals, their concerns, anxieties and private obsessions. His short stories resemble well-made decorative objets d'art, pleasing perhaps to the cognoscenti but leaving the majority of readers unmoved. Golestan's brand of modernism has influenced the later gcneration of writers like Bahman Forsi (b. 1933) and Hushang Golshiri (b. 1937). Although the stories of Behazin show similar indebtedness to classical Persian models, he does not follow Golestan's modernist experiments with syntax. Behazin is an author whose stories, delivered in a lucid literary style, express his leftist social beliefs. In some of his later works like the short story collection Mohra-ye Mar (The Snake Charm. 1955), he turns to literary allegory, imbuing ancient tales with a new message, a technique which allows him to express his critical views obliquely. Behazin's predecessors in the sub-genre of the allegorical tale were Hedayat (in Ab-e Zendegi, 1931) and Chubak ("Esa'a-ye Adab" in the collection Khayma-Shab-Bazi).
PERIOD OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
This second period in the development of the modern Persian short story began with the coup of 28 Mordad 1332/19 August 1953 (see COUP D'ETAT of 1332 S,/ 1953), and ended with the revolution of 1979. The relative freedom experienced in Persia after Reza Shah's abdication in 1320 S./1941 had ensured a more liberal exchange of views in society, while the concurrent boom in publishing and translation introduced the Persian public to classics of world literature. All these factors contributed to the development of modem Persian fiction. In spite of the political upheavals, which limited the opportunities for new writers, established authors like Al-e Abroad, Golestan, and Behazin went on to write their best works. The writers of this so-called "Second Generation," some of the most creative new talent in Persian fiction, also came of age during that period. Even authors like Mahmud Dawlatabadi (b. 1940), Esma'il Fasih (b. 1935), Mahmud Kianush (b. 1934), and Asghar Elahi (b, 1944). who created their best known stories in the next period (the period of diversity), matured in the cultural and social climate after the coup. Many of these younger authors started publishing their stories in the late 1950s, either in magazines or by small presses which printed their works in a few hundred copies, often at the author's own expense. Despite all social and political difficulties, this period is considered by some critics as the heyday of modem Persian narrative fiction. During this era of growth and development, the short story continued to be the leading narrative genre of modern Persian fiction, the favorite medium for new authors, with the exception of `Alt-Mobammad Afghani, whose novel Shawhar-e Ahu Khanum, published in 1961, was his first work. Most of the stories from this period focus on the predicaments of the little man and the anti-hero. They criticize the oppression by the ruling regime, and create a disturbing picture of the pain, poverty, and ignorance afflicting the common folk.
Jalal AI-e Ahmad is among the proponents of new political and cultural ideas whose influence and impact straddle both the first and the second periods in the history of modern Persian fiction. His writings show an awareness of the works of Franz Fanon and the new generation of third-world writers concerned with the problems of cultural domination by colonial powers. AI-e Ahmad, Behazin, Tonekaboni, and Behrangi can all be described as engage writers because most of their stories are built around a central ideological tenet or "thesis" and illustrate the authors' political views and leanings. The events of their plot-lines are usually recounted in the simplest and most accessible terms, without any ambiguities or stylistic embellishments. Although each author expounds a different set of "theses," their writings share a strong leftist tendency for relentless social criticism and apreoccupation with the political, social, or ideological message of their stories.
Another notable author from this period is Simin Daneshvar (b. 1921), the first woman writer of note in contemporary Persian literature. Her reputation rests largely on her popular navel Savusun (1969). Simin Daneshvar's short stories deserve mention because they focus on the plight and social exclusion of women in Persian society and address topical issues from a woman's point of view.
The repression of liberal thought during this period casts a shadow on the work of some younger writers, whose stories mirror a society raked by fear, uncertainty, and loss of innocence. Distinctive features of short fiction after the coup are attention to regional issues, to peasant life, and to the formative years of childhood; frequent resort to allegory, myth, and m legendary personages from the national and religious traditions; And emphasis on psychological portrayals. GholamHosayn Sa'edi (1935-85), Bahram Sadeghi (1936-84), Taghi Modarresi (1932-97), Goli Taraghi (b. 1939), Hushang Golshiri (b.1937), and Asghar Elahi (b.1944) are all noted for applying psychoanlytical theories in their work.
Childhood memories, as mentioned above, also play a considerable role in the short stories from this period, There had of course been earlier stories written from a child's point of view, but for the writers who came of creative age during the period of growth and development, the return to childhood and adolescence became a recurrent motif, enabling them to depict the life around them from a child's refreshingly unalloyed stance. Jamal Mirsadeghi, Mahmud Kianush, Goli Taraghi, and Mahshid Amirsahi have exploited this technique in some of their works.
Gholam-Hosayn Sa`edi' s (1935-85) short stories, which he called ghessa, often transcend the boundaries of realism and attain a symbolic significance. His allegorical stories, which occasionally resemble folkloric tales and fables, are inhabited by displaced persons, trapped in dead ends (Sepanlu, p. 117). They emphasize the anxieties and the psychological perturbarions of his deeply troubled personages. Plagued cities and abandoned villages, as two sides of the same coin, appear as a recurrent motif. The plots evolve around themes of mental or psychological illness or sudden misfortune: a calamity descends on a village, a group, or an individual, making their stark predicaments even bleaker. Sa`edi's peculiarly dark and disturbed world, in spite of its implied rejection of realistic techniques, has a strong inner logic of its own which translates well from the medium of the short story to that of a film-script (Fischer.pp,223-28), "Aramesh dar Hozur-e Digaran" (Composure in the Presence of Others, 1967), a story in which the tormented mind of an army officer resembles the bombastic hollowness of the military edifice in Persia and prefigures its rapid disintegration, represents Sa`edi's best work. It was also highly successful as a film, directed by Naser Tagwa'i (1973). It was published in a collection entitled Wahemaha-ye Bi-nom o Neshan (1967, it. R. Campbell as Nameless and Elusive Apprehensions, New York, 1981), which also included the story adapted as a screenplay for the film Gav (The Cow) by Dariush Mehrju'i in 1973. Two of Sa`edi's later works, highly critical of the Pahlavi regime-Ghariba dar Shahr (Stranger in the City, 1980), and Tatar-e Khandan (The Grinning Tatar, 1984)-saw the light of day only after the revolution. He left for Paris after the revolution, where he died in 1985. Sa`edi's vivid portrayal of the south of Persia as a hot and humid region, wronged by both nature and modern technology, distinguished him, along with Chubak, Mahmud, Behrangi, Al-e Ahmad, Daneshvar, Dowlatabadi, and Fasih, as pioneers of a distinct type of regional literature (Sepanlu, 1992, pp. 62-67; Yahaghi, p, 219; `Abedini, 1987-98, II, pp, 111-18)
Sadeghi (1936-84) was yet another author who focused on the anxieties and secret mental agonies of his personages. After the coup of 1953 and its aftermath, he became convinced of the futility of social activism and political resistance. His work, as in his novella Malakut, is marked by chronic hopelessness, and dissatisfaction with the emptiness of existence; fear of death is a recurrent theme of his short stories. Supernatural elements and somber ruminations are also distinctive features of his writings. Although his characters come from all walks of life, and include students, civil servants, and teachers, they are all driven by similar fears, anxieties and morbid fantasies. In contrast, the simple and sensual pleasures of life appear stale and trite in his stories. This paradoxical mixture of inertia and cynical black humor also pervades the fiction of Goli Taraghi. She is also strongly influenced by Jungian ideas. The characters in her long and short stories are all perplexed and impotent in different ways, unable to come to a decision and find a way out of their unsatisfactory predicaments.
Hushang Golshiri (b. 1937) and Asghar Elahi (b. 1944) both created memorable psychological portraits through interim monologue and stream of consciousness techniques. Golshiri the author of the long story Shazda Ehtejab (Prince Ehtejab, 1968), is particularly noted for his successful experiments with extended interior monologues. A bold, innovative writer eager to explore modern methods and styles, Golshiri uses stream of consciousness narrative to reassess familiar theories and events,
Asghar Elahi (b, 1944), who started out writing angry political pamphlets, gradually turned towards the stream of consciousness technique. The short stories from his collection, Digar Siavashi Namanda (The Likes of Shiavas Are No More, 1990) often rely on the free association of ideas. The interior monologue of his characters draws on their previous experiences to create an imaginary world, built on the sediments of the past. Jamal Mirsadeghi, Mahmud Kianush, and Mahshid Amirshahi are other well known writers from this period. Taghi Modarresi, whose first novel Yakolya wa Tanha-i-e U (see above.) brought him instant fame, also wrote some psychological short stories but with far less success.
Mahmud Kianush's (b. 1934) narratives, drawing on the author's personal experiences, have an engaging simplicity. Gossaha wa Ghessaha (Sorrows and Sagas, 1965), a collection of seven connected stories, is his best known work. It recounts the events which befall a small boy and his family, from the point of view of the boy. Mahsid Amirsahi (b. 1940) prefers experimental writing to conventional plots. Most of her works are literary sketches rather than true short stories, though some, like the title story of the collection B'ad az Ruz-e Akher (After the Last Day, 1969), do have well-defined plot-lines. This particular short story is a first-person narrative, recounted by a woman who finds new meaning in life after an attempted suicide. Amirsahi's stories and sketches are written in an informal conversational style. Her prose is clear-cut and unadorned, delivered in laconic sentences and evocative language.
Ahmad Mahmud (b. 1930) and Mahmud Dawlatabadi (b. 1940) are among the most prominent writers on rural and regional themes in modern Persian literature. Although both have written a number of short stories, their fame rests largely on their panoramic novels. Their stories are faithful portrayals of Khorasan, the north-eastern region of Persia, and of Ahvaz in the south-west, respectively, recounting the customs and traditions of the local inhabitants. Their short stories reveal the tragic lives of the poor who, gripped by dire need, are ready to sell their own flesh and blood in order to survive. They portray sharecroppers crushed by the tyranny of landlords and browbeaten by village law-enforcers, or peasants forced off their land by drought and famine, who flock to the cities to swell the ranks of the jobless. Pictures of poverty and despair are juxtaposed with the trivial pursuits of wanton landlords, greedy village elders and police agents, against a backdrop of cheerless village life.
Towards the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s. the wave of protests against social oppression and dictatorial rule swelled with the rise of popular dissatisfaction. Censorship intensified and the confiscation of adverse published materials became routine. Some authors were imprisoned. To avoid censorship, many short-story writers turned to allegorical fiction, establishing a new sub-genre of symbolical short stories in modern Persian literature. Hushang Golshiri's short story "Ma'sum" in the collection Namaz-Khana-ye Kuchak-e Man (My Little Prayer-Room, 1975) relies on allegorical techniques to express obliquely the oppressive social and political conditions in the country. Jamal Mirsadeghi resorts to a similar stratagem in his short story Davalpa (1971). Put under enormous political, social, and psychological pressure, the characters in his stories nearly lose their individuality and essential humanity hut finally manage to regain their true selves. Samad Behrangl, whose best-known tale is "Mahi-e Siah-e Kuchulu" (1968; tr. M- and E. Hooglund as "The Little Black Fish" in The Little Black Fish and Other Modern Persian Stories, Washington, D.C., 1976), wrote stories for children and young adults. Behrangi's works use the suggestive power of legend and the folk take to highlight the need for political activism and social commitment.
Two other writers from the same generation, whose works fall outside the present classification, are
Shahrnush Parsipur (b. 1945) and Ghazala 'Alizada (1948-96). Parsipur is better known for her novels. She has only two collections of shorter fiction: Avizeha-ye Bolur (The Crystal Ear-rings, 1977), which contains fantastic and surrealist sketches and stories, and Zanan Bedun-e Mardan (Women Without Men, 1990), a book of connected stories about the issues which arise when several women with very different characters and sensibilities decide to live together. 'Alizada was also primarily a novelist. She wrote only one collection of short stories, Safar-e Nagozashtani (Journey without end, 1977), containing three surrealist stories of magical quests. The poetic language of her prose is in harmony with the arcane subject-matter.
THE PERIOD OF DIVERSITY
The third period in the development of modern Persian fiction has brought forth disparate literary movements. The Revolution of 1978-79 with its political purges and dramatic social upheavals, and the war between Iraq and Persia with its heavy loss in human life, have presented authors with new themes and topics, At first the most established Persian writers continued pursuing their original concerns--the struggle against the injustices of the former regime, the drive for freedom of thought and speech, and of the press. These aspirations coincided with the initial goals of the revolutionary movement, and in the first few years after the revolution the modem Persian short story made considerable progress. Some of the well-known writers of the previous period developed their short stories in new directions; new authors created works worthy of notice. The number of short-story writers increased, with many women among them. Despite this sudden growth, it soon became apparent that the new regime favored traditionalist writers and had little regard for modernity. Traditionalism became the official policy in all spheres of life. Writers were encouraged to turn to traditional models and to reviving trends which had all but expired after the Constitutional movement. The traditional stories (qessa) was suddenly spruced up again and promoted as a new sub-genre: the Islamic tale. Islamic policy makers were convinced that modem writers, bewitched by a paradoxical mixture of a narrow and limiting concept of human reason on the one hand, and by their obsession with carnal instincts on the other, were incapable of attaining to the higher reality of divine revelation. Traditional story-telling was seen as a suitable medium for the popularization of religious thought and theological ideas. Thus, in an attempt to create new Islamic fiction, many Islamic writers abandoned the literary standards and creative criteria of the short-story genre.
Subsidized and promoted by the establishment, the new Islamic stories were expected to demonstrate two basic qualities: piety and a suitable choice of themes and subject matter. The authors who followed the government's direction focused on religious myths and legends and on the political and social problems of the day. The new trend had no occasion to mature or to attain artistic distinction. Most of the Islamic rates were built around well-worn themes and contrived characters. They were hastily patched up together, full of cliches, and poorly crafted-not unlike the literary output of Soviet socialist realism under Zhdanov, which had to serve the ideological directives of the state. The Islamic tale was in evidence for a few years but failed to gain popularity and did not even meet the expectations of its promoters among the Islamic policy-makers.
Now, two decades after the revolution. Islamic writers have gradually abandoned the folk tale genre, returning to more conventional forms of contemporary shortstory writing. Some modernist authors, on the other hand, have followed modernism and post-modernism to an excessive degree, severing all ties with their immediate social environment, and succumbing to nihilistic moods and individualistic fantasies. Such works are often crude and unreadable imitations of world-famous masterpieces. However, the majority of Persian writers are following in the footsteps of their notable predecessors and, drawing on the new achievements of world literature, continue to develop and expand modem Persian fiction. Many have published novels and short stories worthy of notice (see iv. below), Still, it is tooearly for an objective assessment of the post-revolutionary period in Persian fiction. In time the chaotic diversity of literary movements and fads will settle into a discernible pattern. Only then will it be fully possible to distinguish the writers whose works have endured and to assess their artistic merit. Bibliography. See below, ii(d).
ii(d). THE POST-REVOLUTIONARY SHORT STORY
As an independent genre, rather than as a novel in miniature, the post-revolutionary short story is marked by its formal sophistication and has carved out a distinct and experimental space of its own in fiction. The immediacy of the genre was exploited in recording the experiences of revolution and war as they unfolded, and brought the short story added significance (Taghizada and Elahi, ads., pp. 1-18; Qarib, ed., 1, p. 66). A comprehensive list of post-revolutionary short stories, more diversified than their predecessors in theme, language, aesthetic structure, and diagnosis of social and political malaise, is beyond the scope of the present survey, and only major trends will be referred to. It is important, for example, to single out the resonance of the female voice in the literary production of the post-revolutionary period. In addition to collections by women writers of the previous generation, such as Be Ki Salam Konam? (Whom Shall I Greet?, 1980) and As Parandaha-ye Mohajer Bepors (Ask the Birds of Passage, 1997) by Simin Daneshvar, and Zanan Bedan-e Mardan (Women Without Men, 1987), a collection of interconnected stories, by Shahrnush Parsipur, a host of younger women writers have appeared on the scene, eager to experiment and create a style of their own. Special mention should be made of Kanizu (1989) and Siria Siria (1993) by Moniru Ravanipur; the immediately successful Raz-e Kuchak (The Little Secret, 1993) by Farkhonda Aghayi (b. 1956); the terse and well-wrought stories of Tahera `Alawi (b. 1959), in her collection, Zan dar Bad (Woman in the Wind, 1998), and the fable-like writings of Fereshta Mawlavi (b. 1943) such as Naranj o Toranj (The Bitter Orange and the Bergamot, i992), which through the use of magical realism transforms traditional folk tales. Two collections of short stories by Zoya Pirzad (b. 1953), Mesl-e Hamaye `Asrha (Like All Other Afternoons, 1991) and Ta`m-e Gas-e Khormalu (The Astringent Taste of Persimmon, 1997), show a remarkable talent in depicting sketches of urban alienation and its effect on marital relationships in a factual manner, tinged with understated humor (Sami'i; Darvishian; Shambayati).
The influence of psychological and psychoanalytical theories on narrative techniques is evident in collections like Digar Siavash-i Namanda (The Likes of Shiavahs Are No More, 1990) by Asghar Elahi (b. 1944), Jama be Khunab (The Blood-Drenched Robe, 1989) and Talar-e Tarabkhana (The Hall of Merriment, 1992) by Reta Jula'i (b. 1950). In most of his stories Jula'i returns to the turbulent final years of the Qajar era. Ah! Estanbol (Oh! Istanbul, 1990) by Reza Farrokhfal (b. 1953), is a compassionate depiction of the intellectual life in third world countries, consumed by anxiety, horror, and alienation (Jula'i). Amir Hasan Cheheltan's (b. 1956) two collections of short stories Digar kas-i Seday-am Nazad (Nobody Called Me Anymore. Tehran, 1992. printed with some additions, Uppsala, Sweden, 1993) and Chizi be Farda Namanda Ast (Tomorrow Is Right Around the Corner, 1998) are distinguished by their skillful depiction of the inner thoughts of the characters with considerable economy and often by implication rather than direct description. Mention should be made of Siasanbu (1989), a collection of well structured interconnected stories by Mohammed-Reza Safdari (b. 1954), and the short stories of Asghar `Abd-Allahi (b. 1955), singled out for the way their diction is enriched by the use of allegorical imagery. Also deserving mention are the two collection of the fable-like stories, Hickak o Aghabaji (Hitchcock and Aghabaji, 1995) by Behnam Dayyani (b. 1945) and Yuzpalangan-i ke ba Man Davida-and (The Cheetahs Which Have Run with Me, 1994), a collection of interconnected stories by Bijan Najdi (1942-1997). Dayyani resorts to a simple narrative style in most of the stories in this collection which displays the contrast between tradition and modernity by playing the consciousness of an old woman against that of a young man, who narrates the stories and also happens to be a cinema afficinado. Yuzpalangan-i ke ba Man Davida-and, although Najdi's only work of fiction, enjoyed a warm reception by literary critics for its fresh perspective on issues and its poetical language (Ghasemi; Habibi; Tiragol). The above mentioned experiments in narration should not imply a demise of social realism as a major influence on literary production.
The term farhang or adabiyat-e jang or jebha i.e., literature of war or the war front, is used to describe the literature written by younger writers who have come of age in the post-revolutionary period and tell of their experiences at the front in the war with Iraq (see bibliography). Many writers, including Hushang Ashurzada (b. 1944) and Mohammad Mohammad 'Ali (b. 1950), have published important collections of social realist short stories, concerned with the themes of war, displacement, and life in the refugee camps. Mohammad `Ali already enjoyed some recognition because of his previous works, including two novels, Ra'd o Barq-e bi Baran (Dry Thunder, 1991) and Naghsh-e Penhan (Hidden Design, 1991). His latest collection of short stories, Chashm-e Sevvom (The Third Eye), was published in 1994.
The tribal life of the Ghashghaiis and the beauty of their region are evoked in two collections of mainly autobiographical stories by Mohammad Bahman-Beygi (b. 1920), Bokhara-ye Man, Il-e Man (My Shangrila, My Tribe, 1989) and Agar Gharaghaj Nabud (Had There Been no GharaGhaj. 1995). His stories are narrated eloquently and with recourse to traditional modes of story telling (Behmand).
The short stories of Hushang Moradi Kermani (b. 1944), usually directed to an adolescent audience, have earned the author international recognition and prestigious literary awards. Ghessaha-ye Majid (Majid's Stories, 1979), couched in a seemingly effortless diction with stark but evocative imagery, was successfully serialized on Persian television in the 1980s. Khomra (The Jar, 1989), was the screenplay for a film with the same title directed by Ebrahim Foruzesh which was well-received in international film festivals. Bache-haye Ghalibaf (Carpet-Weaving Children, 1980), depicting with first-hand experience the misery, hunger, and tragic and abused life of rug-weaving children in a Kerman village, stand in sharp contrast with his sunny and buoyant stories about the boy Majid. Moradi’s works, including Mosht bar Pust (Punch on the Skin, 1992) have been translated into several languages and praised by critics for their aesthetic qualities.
Post-revolutionary fiction, including the short story, is marked by dynamic experimentation with techniques of narration, choice of plot, imagery, and structure. In line with recent tendencies in most modern literatures, modern Persian fiction expresses doubts, uncertainty. anxiety, tension, paradox, and dilemmas; it tells of beginnings and not of ends. Almost a century old, modern Persian fiction has remained receptive to external influences and follows trends and styles as they appear elsewhere, stream of consciousness techniques and magical realism being cases in point. From a fictionalized remembrance of the nation's idealized past, to a portrayal of imbalances and injustices, and to the depiction of the hardships of war and revolution, Persian fiction has remained a vehicle for change as well as testament to its painful process.
ii(e). POST-REVOLUTIONARY FICTION ABROAD
Not only were the novel and short story imported genres, it should be noted that the very first works of Persian fiction, including Akhundzada's Setaregan-e Farib Khorda and Siahat-nama-ye Ebrahim Beg by Zaynal-`Abedin Maragha'i, and later works such as Hedayat's Buf-e Kur, were either written or first published outside Persia. Some later writers, including Mobammad-`Ali Jamalzada, Bozorg 'Alawi, and Taghi Modarresi, wrote many of their works abroad. However, it was only after the Revolution of 1979 that large numbers of already-established or prospective writers, voluntarily or otherwise, left their homeland to settle abroad, and used the experiences of exile in their writings.
The almost two decades of post-revolutionary fiction abroad, diversified in theme, language, and aesthetic structure, can be divided in two phases, initial shock followed by reconciliation. But these two phases occur at different times for different individuals, or indeed the reconciliation may have never happened for some (Falaki, pp, 7-15; Tamizi, pp. 76-85). The first group of Persian writers in exile, most of them former political activists, robbed of their identity and habitual environment, and ill-prepared for what was to come, exclude the host country from their writings. Instead, their narratives are haunted by the revolution and transpire in the homeland. These early exilic works of fiction were often edited and published by their authors in small printings. They are usually either direct autobiographical accounts or draw on the writer's personal experiences, including more often than not, prison, torture, and war. With the slow process of adaptation, the haunting image of revolution, although never absent, is gradually relegated to the background. Memoir-like narratives of a troubled past are replaced by narratives directed to the less visible aspects of life in exile, and set against the backdrop of the host country rather than the homeland. The polar opposites of home and exile give way to the polarity of reception and rejection by the host country, and the sense of exile is internalized. Foreign words seep into Persian narratives, and bilingual texts are produced.
As was the case with post-revolutionary fiction inside Persia, the very first accounts of exile were also written by already well-established novelists such as GholamHosayn Sa'edi and Mahshid Amirshahi (b.1940), Sa'edi's Parisian Trilogy (1981-83), is a "series of more or less disjointed episodes within each story which are held together by no more than the writer's ever-present obsession with the depiction of unbridled brutality" (Karimi-Hakkak, p. 258). The bipolar notion of home and exile, set against the backdrop of war and revolution, is implicit in Amirshahi's choice of locale, Tehran and Paris, for her two exilic and politically charged novels, Dar Hazar (At Home, 1987) and Dar Safar (In Exile, 1995), arguably a sequel to the first (Elahi, 1996). The two are written in the first person and recounted by a female narrator. Their episodic narratives, reminiscent of Amirshahi's earlier style as a short story writer, may also be understood as mimetic of the narrator's perception of the revolution as a disjointing and fragmenting blow dealt to a country and its culture (Yavari). Her Madaran o Doklardn (Mothers and Daughters, 1998), the first of a multi-volume project, was also published in the United States. Goli Taraghi (b. 1939) in her autobiographical collection of stories, Khateraha-ye Parakanda (Scattered Memories, 1993), moves from a sheltered life at home to a turbulent life in exile and reconstructs a lost childhood as an imaginary haven (Lewis and Yazdanfar, p. 2; Rahimieh, pp. 56168). Home, shaken by revolution and inhabited by mysterious squatters, is Mostafa Farzana's title and theme for his surrealistic novel Khana (1983), published in Paris after the revolution. Author of several other novels, short stories, and plays, Farzana-who has spent most of his life in Paris-has also written extensively on Sadegh Hedayat. Mahmud Kianush (b. 1934), is yet another established short story writer of the previous generation, who lives in London. However, two of his novels, Mard-e Gereftar (The Ensnared Man, 1964), and Ghawwas o Mahi (The Fisherman and the Fish, 1989) are published in Tehran. Ghawwas o Mahi is a well structured, engaging story which follows the career of an idealist who abandons the affluent life of his family in search of a simple life (Yar-e Shater). Another significant writer is Bahman Forsi (b. 1933), author of several collections of short stories and plays. His novel Shab-e Yak, Shab-e Dow (Night One, Night Two, 1974) was published in Tehran and his collection of stories, Davazdahomi (The twelfth, 1991), in London. The veneer of flippancy and nonchalance with which he camouflages his serious intent is reminiscent of the style of AI-e Ahmad and Hedayat. Mention might also be made of a group of formerly active writers who ceased all literary activity in exile, foremost among them Sadeqh Chubak and Ebrahim Golestan (see above).
Different in many ways, but linked with shared feelings of loss, Bahram Haydari (b. 1942), Nasim Khaksar (b. 1943), Reza Daneshvar (b. 1948), Akbar Sarduzami (b. 1951), and Daryush Kargar (b. 1952) are among a large group of writers who had published some works in Persia but made their literary reputation abroad. Haydari chose Lali, a backward southern township, ravaged by both nature and aggressive industrialization, as the title and subject of his first collection of short stories, published in Tehran in 1980. He has retained the same township as the setting for most of his works in exile, including Manzelgah-e Badha-ye Sorkh (Home of the Red Winds, 1991) and 'Alaf ke Namishekanad ( A Grass Leaf Doesn't Break, 1997), both published in Uppsala. Khaksar published one novel in Persia, Ghadamha-ye Peymudan (Steps to Take, 1981), and two in the Netherlands, Badnamaha wa Shallaghha (Weather-vanes and Whips, 1991) and Ghafas-e Tuti-e Jahan Khanom (The Cage of Jahan Khanom's Parrot, 1991), the latter a novel distinguished by a complex structure and a compassionate language. His fictional characters are crushed by political vicissitudes and confused by competing ideologies. Reza Daneshvar's Namaz-e Meyyet (Prayer for the dead, 1971), a psycho-fiction based on the collapse of boundaries between two ideologically charged concepts, loyalty and betrayal, was published in Tehran. In Khosrow-e Khuban (King of the Beautiful, 1994), written in exile, he mixes, in kaleidoscopic arrangements, a sharply edged realism with fantastic and dreamlike elements. The book is a mythologized retelling of the 1979 revolution (Sheyda) through an imaginary trip undertaken by fictive travelers to the Alborz mountains. A. Sarduzami has published several collections of short stories, two of them in Persia. His two long narratives written in exile, Baradar-am Jadugar Bud (My Brother Was a Sorcerer, 1992), and Man Ham Budeh-am (So Was 1, 1993), in which scenes, symbols, monologues, allusions, and structural devices are not so much intellectually meaningful as emotionally evocative, are both centered around loss and deprivation. Daryush Kargar, the editor of Afsana, a literary journal published in Sweden, has written Inak Watan Tab'idgah (Homeland the Land of Exile, 1980) before he left Persia, and Payan-e Yak 'Omr (The End of a Life, 1994) in Sweden. Ghazi Rabihawi (b. 1954), whose novel Gisu (Hair, 1992) was printed in Tehran, now lives in London, where he published Chahar Fasl-e Irani (Four Persian Seasons, 1996) and a novel, Labkhand-e Maryam (Maryam's Smile, 1996). The ubiquitous presence of revolution and exile lurks in the background of the fiction of Mohammad Rahimian, Shahrair 'Ameri, Amin Najafi,, Morteza Miraftabi (the editor of Simorgh, a journal published in Los Angeles), Mas'ud Noghrakar, and Siavash Bamdad, just to mention a few among many.
Shokuh Mirzadegi (b. 1944) is yet another author whose fictive characters. blessed or cursed, are victims of the revolution and their own strong feelings of nostalgia. The alienation of Luba, the narrator of Mirzadagl's first exilic novel, Bigana-i dar Man (An Alien in Me, Uppsala, 1992), centered on the theme of personal and political betrayal, engulfs her whole entity and language. She goes from Prague to London to escape the haunting memory of her slain revolutionary father, from London to Tehran where she loses her Persian husband to another revolution, and back again to London to get away from a revolutionary son she can no longer recognize.
Post-revolutionary fiction abroad has also witnessed an unprecedented surge in the number of women writers. Differing widely in their tone, content, narrative strategy, and approach to the revolution, to host countries, and to exiled communities, their fictional works nevertheless share significant features. A gradual and occasionally painful move from a sheltered introspcctive life to one of often actions and decisions features prominently in most of these narratives (Tamizi, pp.83-84), Mehrush Mazare`i's Boridaha-ye Nur (Slivers of Light, Los Angeles, 1994), and Ghodsi Ghazinur’s Farziya (Theory, Netherlands. 1994), are among the many which underline this slow process of transformation. The female characters of these works are highly involved in women's issues and strive to unravel the nuances of the female psyche and forge bonds with each other. The male characters are presented in contrast as emotionally barren and condemned to dysfunctional relationships. Mention should be made, among many others, of works such as Fatima Farsa'i's (b. 1951) Yak ‘Aks-e Dast-a Jam'i (A Group Photo, Frankfurt, 1989), which consists of two group of stories written in Persia before the revolution and in Germany after the revolution, and Shahla Shafigh's (b. 1954) well structured short stories in Jadda, Meh, wa...(Road, Mist, and...Los Angeles. 1998). Both are highly colored with nostalgic memories of a lost past. Mehri Yalfani has published several collections of short stories, such as Jashn-e Tawallod (Birthday Party, 1990), and longer narratives, such as Kasi Miayad (Someone Will Come, 1990), both published in Canada. The latter title is borrowed from a poem by Foruq Farrokzad (Elahi. 1995. pp. 643-45), In her latest novel, Dur az Khana (Away From Home, New York, 1998), Maryam, the protagonist, who suffers the hardships of exile and life in a shelter in Canada, struggles to achieve independence from her native traditions which bar women's development and progress. _
Whereas most exilic narratives recount the increasingly desultory experiences of their authors throughout the events leading up to the revolution and end with their subsequemdeparture from Persia, others, though fewer in number, have striven not to confine themselves to the experience of exile. These writers, have produced works of fiction that can be described as supra- or post-exilic literature. A quintessential example is Mahmad Mas'udi's (h. 1949) Surat al-Ghorab (The Chapter of the Raven, 1984), which appeared for the first time in Zaman-e Now, a Paris-based literary journal, As an adaptation of 'Attar' s Manteq al-tayr, the novella recounts contemporary man's quest for the truth, led this time by a raven, traditionally a harbinger of mischief and evil. Through his reconfiguration of "Truth" as always elusive, fluid, and unstable, in a novel in which the characters switch, the tortured replacing the torturers, and the boundaries between I and the other are blurred, Mas'udi tells the tale of the millions who are experiencing manifold transformations in exile and confronts them with their desire to resist the disconneciedeness of life in a disconcerting and surrealistic fashion (Anusha; Nuri 'Ala', 1993; Ghorab). Mas'udi has also published Bagha-ye Tanha'i , (The Gardens of Solitude, 1996), containing two short stories. Reza Ghasemi (b. 1949), a playwright and director, is yet another writer who attempts to study the present and the past by redefining conceptions of language, culture, and identity. In his best known novel, Ham-nava'i-e Shabana-ye Orkestr-e Chubha (The Nocturnal Harmony of the Wood Orchestra, Los Angeles, 1996), Ghasemi provides a vivid critique of revolutionary ethics, and moves beyond the more simplistic exilic narratives which rely on a dichotomy of good and evil (Nuri `Ala’, 1997; Ghasemi). Jawad Jawaheri's (b.1962) collection of subtly structured short stories, Rokh (Cheek, 1989), published in Paris, Hosayn Azamus's Divar-ha-ye Saya-dar (Walls with Shadows, 1995), and Sasan Ghahreman's Gosal (Rupture, 1994), operating through suggestions, nuances and allusions, convey a more humane and less judgmental view which transcends the essential grammar of life in exile (Rowshangar; Saremi). The same propensity for creating a complex and compassionate narrative can be found in the works of Sardar Salehi (b, 1954). He presents novel accounts of historical events, such as Naser-al-Din Shah's third trip to Europe, in his Az Pas-e Shana-ye Shah (From Behind the Shah's Shoulders, 1997). Memorable, too, is Mahmud Falaki's Sayaha (Shadows, 1997), published in Hamburg, whose narrator delves into his childhood to recover his uncle's murderer in his own self-image.
It is interesting to note that concern with the themes of immigration and exile is not confined to those authors who have actually undergone such experiences. Writers living in Persia, such as Esma’il Fasih in his Sorraya dar Eghma', Hushang Golshiri in his A'inaha-ye Dardar, and Mansur Kushan in Tab`idiha (Exiles, 1991) and Wahamaha-ye Zendagi (Anxieties of Life, 1993) have grappled with these same issues.
A younger generation of writers is also emerging, with diverse linguistic, literary, and cultural backgrounds, which is less afflicted by a sense of exile. More assimilated in their host countries, facing situations with the power to provoke major transformations, and usually with better employment and economic prospects, they have a less immediate organic tie with the culture of their original homeland. Furthermore, the country of exile may variably influence the world vision, sensibilities, and preferences of these geographically dispersed writers. So far most of their works, rather than being specifically classifiable as a genre, point to the severing of organic and primeval ties with a culture they are keen on capturing and a language they try to employ as a communicative device.
Bibliography(See the Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IX).
ii(f). BY PERSIANS IN NON-PERSIAN LANGUAGES
Persian fiction is not limited to works written in the Persian language, or to works written within the geographical boundaries of Persia herself. Many Persians who have left their homeland for a variety of reasons and lived abroad for a long time, have attempted to produce fiction in other languages. The contemporary history of these works begins with Amineh Pakravan (1890-1958), the first Persian writer to produce a fully-realized work of fiction in French. Born in Istanbul and raised in Europe, she penned several books of biography and fiction, almost all on the Qajar period. Her first novel, Destinees persanes, which she wrote in 1925, was the last to be published, posthumously in 1960. Her novel Le prince sans histoire, "a sensitive and evocative novel about the tragic fate of an orphan Qajar prince, a cousin of Mohammad Shah, (which) depicts in a lively manner life under the Qajars and the court environment and intrigues" (Yar-e Shater/Yarshater, forthcoming) was awarded the Prix Rivaro in 1951 and praised by literary critics. Fereydoun Hoveyda (b. 1924) is another Persian novelist, essayist, and film critic who has written extensively in French. He published his first and well-received novel Les quranraines in 1962. The novel revolves around the life of Sami Salem, the novel's Egyptian intellectual protagonist who lives in Paris. Shuttling from Cairo to Paris, the book dramatizes the problematic bridging of the two cultures exemplified by the two cities. Les quranraines was translated into Persian by Mostafa Farzana as Qarantina (1966). Hoveyda's second novel L'aerogare (1965), was followed by Dans une terre etrangee (1968) and Le losange (1969), a collection of science fiction stories. His novels concentrate on characters subscribing to two or more cultures simultaneously and on civilizations and religious systems which he believes complement each other rather than merge together (Chelkowski).
Although French was the first language used by Persian novelists abroad, it was not the only one- The number of novelists who have since used English as their medium has grown steadily. Fereydun Esfandiari (b.1931), is amongst the first Persian novelists to produce works of fiction in English. His The Day of Sacrifice (New York, 1960), centers around a political assassination organized by a religious group in Teheran. He has published two other novels, Beggar and Identity Card, both in New York.In the two autobiographical fictions of Shusha Guppy (b. 1935), the London-based Persian singer, actor, and novelist, fact and fiction smoothly blend, and experience and story become antithetical categories. In The Blindfold Horse (London, 1988), Guppy, thrown back to the resources of her imagination, interweaves the memories of her childhood to the tale of her city of birth. Tehran, and the socio-cultural situation into which she is born (Yar-e Shater, 1989, pp- 321-24). In A Girl in Paris (London, 1991), her second novel and a sequel to the first, Paris replaces Tehran, and French intellectuals in post-World War II era, such as Jean Paul Sartre, Simon de Beauvoire. and Albert Camus appear in the life and mind of a young Persian girl who has traveled to Paris to encounter the decisive moments of choice that will constitute her essential totality as a person in the future. The two novels enjoy a restated and practical language (Yar-e Shater.1992). Akhtar Naraghi, is yet another Persian poet and novelist in whose works the line between fantasy and reality, between autobiography and fiction is easily crossed. In The Big Green House (Montreal, 1994), a collection of twelve connected short stories, each a vignette from the protagonist's life, Naraghi follows a girl from her childhood in Persia to her adolescence in Germany and finally to her arrival in Canada. Written entirely in the first person singular voice, the book revolves around the protagonist's struggle to adapt to new homes, new countries, and new cultures, touching upon the themes of identity in varying ways. Naraghi has also published a collection of poems, Legacy: Selected Poems (Montreal, 1989). In the fiction of Nahid Rachlin (b. 1946), Persia appears as the main character. In Foreigner (New York, 1978), she casts an intimate look on the theme of return to one's place of the childhood as an experience of estrangement and alienation. Minou, the protagonist of Married to a Stranger (San Francisco, 1983), Rachlin's second work of fiction, is a dreamy literary girl yearning for an unconventional life. The novel is written from a female point of view and is set in the period just before and during the revolution of 1979. It is enriched by the author's personal experiences and observations in an oppressive society. The story focuses on the joint failure of Minou and her husband to save their marriage, which arises as much from cultural limitations as from individual personalities (Clinton, 328-30). Nahid Rachlin has written another novel The Heart's Desire (San Francisco, 1995) and a collection of short stories, Veils (San Francisco, 1993).
Donne Raffat's The Caspian Circle (Boston. 1978) is set against the backdrop of the post World War 11 years in Persia. Narrated from the perspective of the Western educated Piruz Momtaz, the story highlights the rise and fall of an assorted cast of relatives, friends, and business associates, as one generation slowly disintegrates and is replaced by the next. The Feet of a Snake (New York, 1984), by Barry Chubin, is one of the first attempts by a Persian novelist to fictionalize the 1979 revolution. A detective story, set against the backdrops of Paris, the Riviera, Persia, London, and Washington the novel follows the efforts of an American agent to recover a set of stolen tapes containing devastating information.
Manuchehr Parvin lives and teaches in the United States. His Cry for My Revolution (Costa Mesa, Calif. 1987), is a historical and political novel, with emphasis on political ideologies and character analysis. Avicenna & I, Parvin's other novel recounts the oddessy of two lovers who travel from New York to Hamadan, from present to past, and from earth to sky, searching for truth and wisdom. Persian words are employed in their original forms in the text with no footnotes or translation. Veins of magical realism run through the story line. The protagonist -- Piruz -- is shared by the two novels (Mahdi).
Bahman Sholevar, a psychiatrist, published Safar-e Shab in Persian (1967, tr. By the author as The Night's Journey, Philadelphia, 1984) and Dead Reckoning (Philadelphia, 1992) in English. The latter revolves around the socio-political events in the country and the blows they render to the life of Farhang Shadzad, the novel's protagonist and his family. Sholevar's novels are not primarily concerned with the troubled encounter of different cultures and traditions as is the case with most other Persian expatriate novelists, but rather with depicting twentieth century intellectuals in search of justice, freedom, and identity. (Qanunparvar),
M. T. Sharif (b. 1964), has authored several successful short stories in English, among them "The Problems with the Food Taster" (Other Voices, 1997) and "The Double's Complaint" (The Literary Review, 1996). His "The Letter Writer "(Agni, 1987) was included in The Best American Short Stories of 1989 (New York, 1990) for its fable-like simplicity and structure. The story's protagonist, Haji, is arrested during the 1979 Revolution and is unjustly accused of espionage and sentenced to work covering up the bare arms, legs, and heads of women pictured in Western magazines, oddly fleshing out a prophecy "reminiscent of both Kafka and the tradition of the ironic Eastern tale" (Atwood). Majid Amini and Masud Farzan are yet two other writers who write in English and in whose works exile appears as a defining and excluding condition. The Persian translation of Farzan's Airplane Ticket (New York, 1969) was published in Persia in 1970. Majid Amini has authored Dreams of a Native Son (1987), The Howling Leopard (1989), and The Sunset Drifters (1995), all published in Canoga Park, California.
Mention might also be made here of King of the Benighted by Manuchehr Irani (a pseudonym), which first appeared in the form of an English translation by Abbas Milani of an unpublished Persian novel (Washington, D.C. 1990; Get, tr. by Y, Nimade as Der Konig, Frankfurt, 1998). It is an exceptional retelling of the Revolution of 1979 and adaptation of the "Black Dome" from Nizami's poem Haft Peykar (q.v.).
In the Netherlands, Kader 'Abdolah produced De Adelaars (The eagles, 1993) and De Meisjes en de Partizanen (The Girls and the Partisans, 1995). Naser Fakhteh's Imand Anders (Someone else, 1996) and Afshin Ellian's Verri jzenis van Woorden, (Vidya, 1997) are also prime examples of the works of Persian authors in Dutch.
*Sections ii(a), and ii(c) of this article are written by Simin Behbehani & EIr, and Jamal Mirsadeghi, respectively.