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04/18/12

Book: Iran's Epic and America's Empire

Source: Afshar Publishing

"Iran's Epic and America's Empire" considers the implications of Iran’s national epic, the Shahnameh for the present political tensions that mark Iran's relationship with the West.  It offers an explanation of the poem as a national and a cultural icon.


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Santa Monica, CA -- April 17, 2012 -- The Shahnameh is Iran's national epic.  It is a compendium of Iranian myths, legends, and history.  Unlike other Indo-European epics, it is not about a war, like the Iliad, or an individual, like the OdysseyBeowulf, or the Ramayana.  The central character of the Shahnameh is Iran, which it glorifies both as subject and hero.  Unlike other classical Indo-European epics, the Shahnameh is not in a dead language.  It is intelligible to every speaker of Persian in Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. 

This book is addressed to Iranians who reside in the West.  Following a brief survey of Iranian history from its beginning in the 7th century B.C. to Ferdowsi's time in the 11th century, Mahmoud Omidsalar provides a history of the poem and a biography of its author. 

"Mahmoud Omidsalar is a world authority on Ferdowsi's Shahnameh.  Very few people anywhere in the world know the Persian epic inside out as well as he does.  Omidsalar's Iran's Epic and America's Empire is a bold political manifesto written by a master literary scholar.  His steely meditations come at a particularly troubling time when Ferdowsi's birthplace is ruled by chronic autocracy and threatened by military strike.  Omidsalar writes with conviction, courage, steadfast determination, and a defiant will to recollect, to remind, and to claim the Iranian posterity."
Hamid Dabashi (Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in the City of New York)

 

“In Iran’s Epic and America’s Empire, Mahmoud Omidsalar the master of Shahnameh Studies, attempts to provide a personal narrative about the substance and meaning of the greatest literary work composed in the Persianate World. Along the way he provides a useful and contentious purview of the pre-modern history of Iran and the life of the composer of the epic, Abol-Ghasem Ferdowsi. Furthermore, Omidsalar not only dispels the common Eurocentric notions about Iran and the Shahnameh, but also takes on the blind nationalism of his own countrymen who at times are blinded by their own chauvinism. He shows how this xenophobic view has kept some from understanding the essence and nature of the Persian epic and Iran’s cultural achievement. Whoever reads this book will be forced to think about her/his own views on the meaning and importance of the Shahnameh”.
Touraj Daryaee (Howard C. Baskerville Professor in the History of Iran and the Persianate World at the University of California, Irvine)

About the Author: Mahmoud Omidsalar obtained his Ph.D. in Persian Literature from the Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley, where he also studied Folklore under Alan Dundes. In addition to publishing many essays on Persian literature and folklore, he has also edited the 6th volume of the new critical edition of the Shahnameh, under the general editorship of Professors Khaleghi-Motlagh and Ehsan Yarshater. He has served on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia Iranica since 1990, and was appointed to the Supreme Council of the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia (Tehran) in 2006. In 2004, the first volume of his collected English and Persian papers received the book of the year award of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran.  His most recent English book, Poetics and Politics of Iran’s National Epic, the Shahnameh was published by Palgrave/Macmillan in 2011

Iran's Epic and America's Empire by Mahmoud Omidsalar
A Handbook for a Generation in Limbo
Trade Paperback: $24.99; 240 pages; ISBN: 978-0962766497
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Publisher: Afshar Publishing
info@afsharpublishing.com | facebook | twitter | (310) 829-3330
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