scispace - formally typeset
Search or ask a question
Author

Alexander Jabbari

Bio: Alexander Jabbari is an academic researcher. The author has contributed to research in topics: Persian & Modernity. The author has an hindex of 1, co-authored 1 publications receiving 8 citations.
Topics: Persian, Modernity, Persian literature, Poetry, Urdu

Papers
More filters
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Jabbari as discussed by the authors argues for a shared discourse of modernity shared between early twentieth-century Iranian and Indian intellectuals, and examines how these intellectuals made use of premodern materials for their modernizing projects, and how nationalism shaped this process.
Abstract: This article makes an argument for literary modernity as a shared discourse produced through scholarly exchange between Iranians and Indians reworking their shared Persianate literary heritage, considering literary history as an important and perhaps overlooked site for the production of literary modernity. Arguing for a verbal as well as textual discourse of modernity shared between early twentieth-century Iranian and Indian intellectuals, Jabbari examines how these intellectuals made use of premodern materials for their modernizing projects, and how nationalism shaped this process. Four aspects of modern literary history writing receive particular focus here: engagement with the tazkirah tradition, inclusion of extraliterary national figures alongside poets, use of a shared set of references and sources, and new sexual aesthetics that break with the homoerotic Persianate past.

14 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper , the authors examined two different Persian translations of an influential Urdu-language work on Persian literary history, Shiʿr al-Ajam (Poetry of the Persians), by Shibli Nuʿmani.
Abstract: Abstract This article examines twentieth-century Persian translations of Urdu-language works about Persian literature, focusing on two different Persian translations of an influential Urdu-language work on Persian literary history, Shiʿr al-ʿAjam (Poetry of the Persians), by Shibli Nuʿmani. The article offers a close, comparative reading of the Afghan and Iranian translations of Shiʿr al-ʿAjam in order to understand why two Persian translations of this voluminous text were published within such a short time period. These translations reveal how Indians, Afghans, and Iranians were invested in the same Persianate heritage, yet the emergence of a “Persianate modernity” undergirded by a cultural logic of nationalism rather than cosmopolitanism, along with Iran’s and Afghanistan’s differing relationships to India and Urdu, produced distinct approaches to translation.

1 citations

MonographDOI
23 Mar 2023
TL;DR: Jabbari as mentioned in this paper explores what became of this vast Persian literary heritage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Iran and South Asia, as nationalism took hold and the Persianate world fractured into nation-states.
Abstract: From the ninth to the nineteenth centuries, Persian was the pre-eminent language of learning far beyond Iran, stretching from the Balkans to China. In this book, Alexander Jabbari explores what became of this vast Persian literary heritage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Iran and South Asia, as nationalism took hold and the Persianate world fractured into nation-states. He shows how Iranians and South Asians drew from their shared past to produce a 'Persianate modernity', and create a modern genre, literary history. Drawing from both Persian and Urdu sources, Jabbari reveals the important role that South Asian Muslims played in developing Iranian intellectual and literary trends. Highlighting cultural exchange in the region, and the agency of Asian modernizers, Jabbari charts a new way forward for area studies and opens exciting possibilities for thinking about language and literature.
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Schwartz as discussed by the authors argues that the authors of the literary return were concerned with more than poetics or questions of taste and were in fact closely attuned to political changes in Isfahan.
Abstract: Kevin Schwartz’s Remapping Persian Literary History, based on his 2014 doctoral dissertation from the University of California–Berkeley, is a study of Persian literary history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The book seeks to decenter Iran in understanding the “literary return” (bazgasht-i adabi), a poetic movement that emerged in the aftermath of the fall of the Safavids and broke with the conventions dominant since the Safavid-Mughal era. Its practitioners sought instead to imitate the style of the “ancients” (qudamaʾ), the earliest masters of Persian poetry, such as Firdawsi, ʿUnsuri, Anvari, and others. Modern Iranian literary critics, most influentially Muhammad-Taqi Bahar (1886–1951), came to see this movement as a form of literary nationalism. Bahar conceived of the literary return as a reaction against what he termed the “Indian style” (sabk-i hindi) of poetry, “returning” the center of Persian poetic production from India (where, in his view, poetry had declined) to its rightful home in Iran, thereby causing poetry to flourish again. This narrative is dominant not only in Iran but is often upheld by Afghans and South Asians; also, the inexorable logic of nationalism has wedded Persian closely to Iran in the minds of many a modern literary critic.Reviewing the literature on Iranian nationalism and identity in the book’s introduction, Schwartz identifies how the literary return has been theorized according to nationalist fallacies: that the Safavids spurred poetry out of an excess of religious zeal, and that the literary return endeavored to return Persian poetry to a glory it had enjoyed prior to the Mongol invasion. In representations of the literary return as a form of nationalism, the literary return’s “Other” is not the Arabs or Islam but the broader Persianate world, rejected in favor of a more narrowly Iran-centric model. Schwartz problematizes the focus on stylistic change in Persian literary history, complicating teleological narratives that depict the baroque complexity of the Indian style giving way to the simplicity of the literary return by showing how the two styles coincided temporally. Poetry in the Indian style continued to be written during the period associated with the literary return, but the modern narrative of literary history has ignored such poetry. Furthermore, if literary return is defined by engagement with the ancients, Schwartz shows how Afghans and Indians similarly imitated the old masters of Persian poetry. Most importantly, he demonstrates how the literary return has not been conceived of uniformly by critics over the past few centuries.One of Schwartz’s interventions, drawing on the work of Muhammad Shams-i Langarudi, is in viewing the literary return not as an innovation but as a continuation of the sixteenth-century “realist school” (maktab-i vuquʿ) in its simplicity and imitation of the old masters. Accordingly, he sees more stylistic continuity between late Safavid and post-Safavid poetry than has been accounted for. Notably, Mushtaq Isfahani (1689–1757, central to the literary return) and his circle also imitated Safavid-Mughal poets and wrote on a variety of themes, not only those that later became identified with the literary return movement. Schwartz’s analysis is not solely stylistic, however. He demonstrates how reading the literary return merely as a reaction to the Indian style ignores the historical and social context of these poetic debates, contending that the poets were concerned with more than poetics or questions of taste and were in fact closely attuned to political changes in Isfahan. While the literary return does indeed differ poetically from the Indian style, its reasons for doing so are more multifaceted, including political and social factors.Schwartz’s historicization of the literary return is perhaps his most valuable contribution. Critics have described the literary return as imitative, not innovative, neglecting the movement’s social and historical circumstances. Schwartz examines the circle of the Iranian poets in eighteenth-century Isfahan, typically held to be the originators of the literary return, through close attention to tazkirahs (biographical anthologies). He argues that what motivated these poets was ultimately more about reconstituting the role of the poet in order to seek patronage in turbulent times. As he demonstrates, the Isfahani Circle constituted a poetic community wherein poets supported and wrote poetry in praise of one another, imitating the masters or comparing their peers to the masters while doing so. In this way, they were able to secure patronage for their group. However, he does not explore why it is that the classical qasida of the ancients was most useful for seeking this kind of patronage. Answering that question would have made clearer how the literary return movement’s engagement with the ancients differed from poets in earlier time periods who had also imitated the old masters, which they had done for centuries.Schwartz not only historicizes the literary return but globalizes it, considering the movement as part of a broader regional phenomenon in which poets sought out old masters in order to establish their place and secure patronage under chaotic conditions such as the fall of the Safavids, the Anglo-Afghan war, or the breakup of the Mughal empire. By approaching the literary return as a method of seeking patronage, he offers a framework for grounding this poetic movement in material (social, political, and economic) conditions. This in turn allows for considering the literary return not simply as an Iranian (proto-)nationalist poetic movement but as something in which Afghan and Indian poets also participated. He analyzes nineteenth-century Afghan war ballads, for example, alongside Iranian poets canonically associated with the literary return like Mushtaq. Conceiving of the literary return as a regional rather than national trend offers a useful way of conceiving of similar developments across Iran, Afghanistan, and India, placing Schwartz’s book in conversation with other recent works on “East-East” or “South-South” intellectual and literary connections.In a chapter dedicated to the war ballads (jangnamah) of the Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42), Schwartz demonstrates how Afghan poets (like their counterparts in Iran) drew on the ancients during a tumultuous period in order to record their experiences. He reads the war ballads of “Ghulami” Kuhistani, Hamidullah Kashmiri, and Qasim ʿAli, analyzing their environments, composition, afterlives, and circulation, considering them as part of a poetic marketplace that spanned Iran and Afghanistan. These poems, modeled after the epic Shahnamah of Firdawsi and replicating its meter, style, and language, were responding to the trend of engaging with the ancients. For Schwartz, they constitute a “return” to the Shahnamah, part of a widespread regional return to the old masters, which was not limited to Iran, thus challenging the Iran-centrism of the standard literary return narrative. In the absence of a central state to patronize the poets, these ballads were dedicated to narrating events rather than glorifying a particular patron, unlike earlier imitations of the Shahnamah produced in courtly settings in honor of royal patrons. The Afghan poets used language that closely paralleled their Isfahani counterparts in criticizing poetry they saw as straying too far from the ancient masters, and similarly lamented lack of patronage; the Afghan literary return, like that of Isfahan, was the product of historical circumstances, not a purely stylistic reaction.The argument that these Afghan war ballads should be considered part of the same phenomenon as the poetry of the Isfahani Circle is not entirely convincing. The differences between them are not only geographic but also generic (an epic jangnamah is quite distinct from a qasida or ghazal), and this raises questions about the criteria for inclusion in the literary return. Yet Schwartz’s case studies and readings, even if not fully satisfying as evidence of an Afghan literary return, are fascinating in their own right, offering insight into the dynamics of poetic patronage in mid-nineteenth-century Afghanistan. His analysis of Qasim ʿAli’s Victory Book of Kabul (Zafarnamah-yi Kabul), for instance, reveals it to be the product of multiple patrons; pace the dominant narrative in Afghanistan, Schwartz suggests that Qasim ʿAli was less a committed British stooge than simply someone searching for employment wherever he could find it.The book’s final chapter considers Tazkirah-yi Gulzar-i Aʿzam, possibly authored by the last Nawab of Arcot, in the Carnatic region of peninsular South India, in the mid-nineteenth century. The choice of Carnatic, among the southernmost points of the Persianate world, as one of the case studies in the book is valuable as this region has received far less attention from scholars of Persian literature than locales further north. This chapter takes up the tazkirah not only as a useful source of information on poets but as an object of study in and of itself, adding to the growing field of interest in tazkirahs in recent years. As the literary return movement took off in Iran and elsewhere, Carnatic witnessed debates over the poetry of Bidil (held up as a representative of the Indian style of Persian poetry), and more broadly on the question of poetic authority.Schwartz identifies the poet Vasif (c. 1803–73) as part of a tendency in the nineteenth century among Indians who began to cede authority over Persian to “native speakers.” Despite being completely disconnected from what would later be identified as the Iranian literary return movement—Schwartz notes that the South Asian tazkirahs of the time show no awareness of the Iranian literary return and its criticisms of the poetry that preceded it—there were nevertheless similarities as both Iranians and Indians began to reject poetry in the style of Bidil. In India, Schwartz argues, this debate over poetic authority was not initially defined in geographic terms; he reads the eighteenth-century dispute between the Indian Arzu and the Iranian-born Hazin as primarily stylistic in nature, rather than an expression of rivalry between two nations. However, in the following century, geography and ethnicity increasingly became primary factors in debates over poetics. He demonstrates how earlier debates over poetics and authority laid important ground for the later emergence of modern nationalism. This is an important intervention as many scholars have lamentably ignored early modern India and instead considered the nineteenth century to be the terminus a quo for Iranian nationalism.Schwartz occasionally attacks strawmen. He disputes, for example, “the claim that no engagement with the style and form of the ancients existed outside Iran,” but does not cite anyone who makes such a bold contention. He also challenges the “commonly held” view that “Persian literary culture had become more or less irrelevant in South Asia by the mid-nineteenth century” by considering the literary milieu of the last Nawab of Arcot (d. 1855), but similarly cites no proponents of such a view. Schwartz rightly demonstrates how Persian literary culture did not so much decline in the post-Mughal era as rearticulate and reorganize itself. The problem is that the standard narrative (which he seeks to contest) holds that it was the 1857 uprising that marked the end of Persian literary culture in South Asia. His choice to analyze the Persian literary scene at the time of a figure who died in 1855, two years before the uprising, is a little too early to challenge the narrative of post-1857 decline. His claim that “from a quantitative perspective, Arcot witnessed one of the highest volumes of tadkhira [tazkirah] production anywhere in the Persianate world during this time” is also problematic. It seems plausible—the region clearly experienced an explosion in tazkirah production—but one wonders if enough is known about tazkirah production in other frontiers of the Persianate world to draw such a conclusion with certitude.Remapping Persian Literary History is a valuable contribution to early modern and modern Persian literary historiography. It deserves praise for meaningfully bridging the gap between these two temporal fields, which are often treated separately by scholars. It is the only English-language monograph dedicated to the literary return, and while this succinct tome does not aim to be comprehensive, it is generative, offering a new framework for thinking about literary return that invites additional research and future studies. The book is relevant to larger debates on Persian literary history and canonization, as well as Iranian nationalism. It also features helpful visualizations of poetic networks in the form of digital maps showing connections between poets. Finally, in its treatment of Iran, Afghanistan, and India, the book is a welcome addition to the growing list of works that advance scholarship beyond the Area studies paradigm.
Book ChapterDOI
06 May 2022
TL;DR: In this article , the authors look closely and comparatively at several English translations of the Gulistān from British India, examining choices made in translation and analyzing the various approaches to translation.
Abstract: The thirteenth-century Gulistān (“Rose Garden”), a didactic prosimetrum by Sa‘di of Shiraz (1210–91 or 1292 CE), is among the best-known and most widely read works in the history of Persian literature. For centuries, study of this mirror for princes was a traditional staple of education throughout the Persianate world. Its status as a core text for teaching literary and social sensibilities in India made it the subject of particular interest for British Orientalists, who translated the Gulistān into English on more than ten separate occasions before the twentieth century. This chapter looks closely and comparatively at several English translations of the Gulistān from British India, examining choices made in translation and analyzing the various approaches to translation. In doing so, it argues that these translations of the Gulistān should be understood as British Orientalists’ participation in Persianate adab.

Cited by
More filters
01 Jan 2002

296 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: By conceiving two emergent nation-states as a single region linked by conjoining roads, shared technologies and circulating researchers, the authors traces the emergence of a common "intellectual in".
Abstract: By conceiving two emergent nation-states as a single region linked by conjoining roads, shared technologies and circulating researchers, this essay traces the emergence of a common “intellectual in

23 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Alex Shams1
TL;DR: In 2019, Iran's religious representative in India, Hojjat ol-Eslam Mahdi Mahdavipour, called for efforts to attract more Indian pilgrims to the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran, noting...
Abstract: In January 2020, Iran’s religious representative in India, Hojjat ol-Eslam Mahdi Mahdavipour, called for efforts to attract more Indian pilgrims to the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran, noting ...

9 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors translate into any European language a Persian poem as culturally and aesthetically embedded as this hemistich by Hazez: beh may sajjādeh rangin kon garat pir-e moghān guyad.
Abstract: How could one translate into any European language a Persian poem as culturally and aesthetically embedded as this hemistich by Hāfez: beh may sajjādeh rangin kon garat pir-e moghān guyad. This is ...

8 citations