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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings by [Ferdowsi, Abolqasem]
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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Review

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 was born in Khorasan in a village near Tus in 940. His great epic, Shahnameh, was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan. Ferdowsi died around 1020 in poverty.
Dick Davis is currently professor of Persian at Ohio State University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His translations from Persian include The Lion and the Throne, Fathers and Sons, Sunset of Empire: Stories from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, Vols. I, II, III.
Azar Nafisi is the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, an international bestseller.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11850 KB
  • Print Length: 930 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143104934
  • Publisher: Viking (2 Mar. 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001RTC0Y2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #403,962 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This enormous book is essential, as we are going to show and I will regret straight away, not to mention it again later, that this version of the book has been shortened. It is unacceptable that some sections be cut off, even if it is duly indicated in due place what passages have been pruned. This being said this book covers the Persian Empire from the the first shah Kayumars to the Arab conquest. It thus covers the following periods (tentative enumeration): Median Empire (728-549 BC); Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC); Seleucid Empire (312–63 BC); Parthian Empire (247 BC–224 AD), also called the "Arsacid Empire"; Sasanian Empire (224–651), also called the "Empire of Empires"; Muslim (meaning Arab) conquest of Persia (633–654 AD). It thus covers the great shift in this region from Zoroastrian heritage to Islam and the transient period under Alexander and the emergence of Christianity with the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. In the background two entities are mentioned though not as clearly as we would like: the Turks and China. The first one is not well defined at all but the second one covers China and most of Central Asia and it is an essentially commercial power, hence the famous Silk Road. There are a few mentions of India but with little consequence.

Some people call this book an epic. We could discuss this classification, and the present edition has decided to call it a “Book” and no an “epic.” This is probably correct because it is far from being only an epic.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
Davis's translation is clear, dramatic, and well condensed, with a smattering of brief summaries for the less important segments. The story is absolutely enormous -- rivaling the Bible or the Mahabharata in scale and length. And like the Bible, it is full of surprises for those expecting orthodox traditionalism. One surprise is the number of powerful women. Another is the celebration of free and rebellious love affairs. A third is the open disdain for the Arab conquerors who brought Islam. But the thing that most surprised me is how this ode to heroic kings turns into an orgy of battles for power, until the whole notion of kingship starts to seem repulsive. It's a national epic with lots for future generations to draw on.
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