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Spirit of Iran: A History of Achievement from Adversity

Availability: In stock
Published: 2007
Page #: xii + 695
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-56859-077-6, 1-56859-077-6
plates, bibliography, index, notes

 
$49.00

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Quick Overview

This book is aimed at demonstrating the continuity of a characteristic Iranian artistic genius which is marked by the capacity for appreciation of nature sufficiently sensitive for the leap to be made from the reality of natural objects to abstract symbols representative of them. The persistence of a distinctive way of looking at nature, reproducing it in art, and illustrating Man’s close, congenial relationship with his environment, are the themes which this book sets out to expose as peculiar to Iranian culture. It is perhaps superfluous to say that this peculiarity harks back to Man’s special relationship with nature as inculcated in Zoroastrianism: as well as an ancient and continuing Iranian trait, it is sanctified by Iran’s ancient religious tradition.
As for political history, no book on the fibrous continuity of Iranian artistic aspirations and techniques can ignore the vicissitudes of the Iranian region’s history. They have tempered and tested the Iranian genius as if it were in a crucible. As for the literary history, no such essay can be without constant citations of the poets of Iran and its annalists. In Persian poetry reposes one of Iran’s greatest art forms, which is to say, one of the world’s. In the historians are to be found descriptions of the sufferings of the Iranian people that made up so much of this people’s history, and which their historians intended should be recorded for posterity to know what those sufferings entailed. Further, it has been considered appropriate as far as possible to tell some of the story of Iran in the words of Iranians themselves. It might be observed that the modern period, principally the 19th and 20th centuries, has been treated scantily. This defect, if defect it is in a book of this kind, can readily be corrected: the author is willing sympathetically to consider extending the narrative to deal in more detail with recent years, although the complexity of their political history might only be included insofar as they offer evidence of the particular kind of psychology of the Iranians, and the continuing vitality, in face of grave adversity, of their genius.

author

Peter Avery

Peter Avery, born in Derby, England, on May 15th 1923, has devoted his life to Persian literature and history. As a child he was introduced to Fitzgerald’s wonderful paraphrase of Omar Khayyam’s quatrains. Thus began an abiding interest in Persian poetry and the ideas it expresses and the images which adorn it. He began to learn Persian during the Second World War when he was stationed in India. Having taken a degree at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, after living in Iran and the Middle East until 1957, he became Lecturer in Persian Studies in the University of Cambridge.

Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xi

PART ONE: ANCIENT THROUGH SASANID IRAN
Chapter 1
The Beginnings; From Realism to the Abstract 3

Chapter 2
The Achaemenids 28

Chapter 3
Alexander the Great: Iskandar 98

Chapter 4
Greeks and Parthians 116

Chapter 5
The Sasanids 142

PART TWO: POST-SASANID [Islamic] IRAN

Chapter 6
Two Centuries of Silence 215

Chapter 7
The Conquered Change Masters 241

Chapter 8
“The Iranian Intermezzo” 260

Chapter 9
Turks: The Saljuqs 324

Chapter 10
The Khwarazshahs and Chingiz Khan 380

Chapter 11
The Il-Khanids and Amirs 417

Chapter 12
Timur, His Successors, and Religion and the Arts 484

Chapter 13
The Turkman Interlude and the Safavid Ascendancy 537

Chapter 14
Afsharids, Zands, Qajars, and Pahlavis 606

Charts 667
Bibliography 679
Index 687

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