Thursday, February 12, 2009

NPR had a rather good piece this week on the Shahnameh in contemporary Iran.
Find the acclaimed English translation by Dick Davis, open it at random, and you are as likely as not to find a sentence such as this: "When spring's new growth gave the plains the appearance of silk, the Turks prepared for battle."
Of course they did. The Shahnameh (like the Icelandic sagas) is one of those works that looks intimidating from a distance, but is a real page-turner once you get going. There are plenty of convenient excerpts available: I would recommend starting with the Legend of Seyavash or Sohrab and Rostam (either are readable in one or two sittings). But diving off the deep end is good too.

Update: Those so inclined may also examine the graphic novel, about whose quality I make no claims.

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