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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions) [Deckle Edge] [Paperback]

Abolqasem Ferdowsi
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Deckle edge paper
This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Book Description

28 Jun 2007 Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
Originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan in the 10th century, Shahnameh is one of the most important pieces of Persian literature. This prodigious narrative tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of Creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the seventh century. The sweep and psychological depth of the Shahnameh is nothing less than magnificent. Now one of the greast translators of Persian poetry, Dick Davis, presents Ferdowsi's masterpiece in an elegant combination of prose and verse.

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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions) + The Conference of the Birds (Classics) + The Masnavi, Book One: Bk. 1 (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Deluxe edition (28 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143104934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143104933
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 176,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Dick Davis [is] our pre-eminent translator from the Persian...Thanks to Davis's magnificent translation, Ferdowsi and the "Shahnameh" live again in English." -Michael Dirda, Washington Post "Accessible...A poet himself, Davis brings to his translation a nuanced awareness of Ferdowsi's subtle rhythms and cadences. His "Shahnameh" is rendered in an exquisite blend of poetry and prose, with none of the antiquated flourishes that so often mar translations of epic poetry." -Reza Aslan (author of "Zealot"), New York Times Books Review "Davis's wonderful translation will show Western readers why Ferdowsi's masterpiece is one of the most revered and most beloved classics in the Persian world." -Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner" "A magnificent accomplishment . . . [Davis's translation] is not only the fullest representation of Ferdowsi's masterpiece in English but the best." -"The New York Sun" "Reader-friendly...essential reading" - Kirkus Review "Marvelous . . . It represents the best of Persian culture." -Azar Nafisi, from the foreword

About the Author

Abolqasem Ferdowsi (940 - 1020) is the preeminent poet in the Persian language and one the greatest poets of his time in any language.

Dick Davis is the premier translator of Persian poetry at work today.

Azar Nafisi is the author of the bestselling Reading Lolita in Teheran.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Readable but incomplete translation 12 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dick Davis has produced a very readable translation. However he chose to omit some material. In his Introduction he informs us that the most substantial omission is an episode during Kay Khosrow's war against Turan, known as the Davazdah Rokh, or episode of the twelve champions. He admits that this is regarded by the Iranian author Golshiri as the heart of the poem. However, in the opinion of the translator this episode is too repetitive and ethnocentric for the general reader to be allowed to see, so he has simply cut it out. Personally I should like to decide for myself whether to plough through repetitions and to make up my own mind about the alleged ethnocentricity, and as to whether this episode is indeed central to the whole Shahnameh. Certainly I should like to have been alerted to the translator's editorializing before making my decision to purchase his work.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About the work in general, not this edition 27 Oct 2006
Noting that there is no comment here on this classic Persian text, I shall enter at least some background on it, if not specific to this edition.

"The Shahnameh", or as it is better known in the western literary world "The Shahnama", is arguably THE classic, medieval Persian literary text and is fundamental to Persian identity. Attributed to the most famous and beloved poet in the whole Persian canon, Ferdowsi, it takes in Iran's ancient and medieval history, culture, beliefs (especially pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism) and is also an excellent source for the Pahlavi Persian language (basically, pre-10th century Middle Persian, and not strictly speaking the modern day Farsi language), depending on the edition of course. As an epic poem, it is unparalleled in Persian tradition and was very much the benchmark which future poets aspired to, technically, structurally, linguistically and so on.

Quite literally meaning "The Book of Kings", the Shahnameh was most likely written as guidance for rulers in the medieval world in which Persia was a major geo-political, imperial power. Blending the mythical and the historical, and compiling the oral and written traditions of Persia, it provided the royal reader with many examples of flawed and immoral shahs (kings), whose mistakes it is presumed were to be learnt from.

A related text is "The Arthashastra", which pre-dates the Shahnameh and is the Indian version from the same literary traditon. (One might also compare it to "The Prince" by Machiavelli as a tool for political guidance, but it is about far more than that!) Given Persia's close proximity to Indian culture and the presence of Indo-Iranian identity, this is hardly surprising. Aryan links abound between the two cultures and texts.
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1.0 out of 5 stars It was a mess! 7 Mar 2014
By armin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Actually I bought it for present but ... I should say the book has the ugliest papers and they are not even. I became very disappointed to make a book like this out of such a masterpiece like Shahnameh!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Persian read 6 Jan 2014
I was extremely pleased by the paper quality , lay out and appearance of this edition of a Penguin classic.
Very good value for money ; a lovely paperback to grace my bookshelves.
A rare really nice buy from an online seller.. highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well presented book 6 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An easy to read, well presented book which has deckled edges to give it the right feel. Sparsely illustrated in black and white but illustrations are clear.
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