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Book Reviews Home > Acta Via Serica > Book Reviews
Title The Persian Prison Poem: Sovereignty and the Political Imagination
Reviewer Assigned
Date 2022-06-08 08:39:44Hit : 264
Attached file [1654645183_202206081.jpg] 

Rebecca Ruth Gould
Edinburgh University Press (December 2021)

The first English-language study of the Persian prison poem

Through a series of insightful and sophisticated readings, this book reveals the worldliness of premodern Persian poetry. It traces the political role of poetry in shaping the prison poem genre (habsiyyat) across 12th-century Central, South and West Asia. The emergence of the genre is indebted to the increasing importance of the poet, who came into increasing conflict with Ghaznavid and Saljuq sovereigns as the genre developed. Uniting the polarities of perpetuity and contingency, the poet’s body became the medium for the prison poem’s oppositional poetics.

  • Develops a new approach to genre, based on the political status of the prison poem
  • Offers an unprecedented account of the interrelations of poetry and power in pre-modern literature
  • Sheds new light on Muslim–Christian relations by documenting the multi-confessional orientation of many prison poems
  • Relates the trajectory of the prison poem genre in pre-modern poetics to Iranian literary modernism, including the prison poems of Muhammad Taqi Bahar

Bringing theorists as wide ranging as Kantorowicz, Benjamin and Adorno into conversation with classical Persian poetics, this book offers an unprecedented account of prison poetry before modernity, and of premodern Persianate culture within the framework of world literature and global politics.