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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Penguin Classics) by [Ferdowsi, Abolqasem]
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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Penguin Classics) Kindle Edition


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Length: 1036 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
Language: English
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The definitive translation by Dick Davis of the great national epic of Iran—now newly revised and expanded to be the most complete English-language edition
 
Dick Davis—“our pre-eminent translator from the Persian” (The Washington Post)—has revised and expanded his acclaimed translation of Ferdowsi’s masterpiece, adding more than 100 pages of newly translated text. Davis’s elegant combination of prose and verse allows the poetry of the Shahnameh to sing its own tales directly, interspersed sparingly with clearly marked explanations to ease along modern readers.
 
Originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan in the tenth century, the Shahnameh is among the greatest works of world literature. This prodigious narrative tells the story of pre-Islamic Persia, from the mythical creation of the world and the dawn of Persian civilization through the seventh-century Arab conquest. The stories of the Shahnameh are deeply embedded in Persian culture and beyond, as attested by their appearance in such works as The Kite Runner and the love poems of Rumi and Hafez.
 
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 30956 KB
  • Print Length: 1036 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Expanded edition (8 March 2016)
  • Sold by: Penguin US
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0191WS04U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #476,561 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling work in a felicitous translation. A great pleasure. Elucidates the history covered and our times. 18 June 2017
By p315 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
this is an expanded edition of Davis's earlier excellent translation. more of quite a very good thing. it is a delight to read and invites total immersion in this historical and literary world. as a general reader i was entranced by Ferdowsi's universe and Davis's language. this work elucidates the history of the entire vast region and period in a way which provides great pleasure in the work itself, admiration for its ethical and aesthetic universe, and better understanding of today's shifting alliances and dreadful conflicts (as well as circumstances in our own parlous times and characters in our own deplorable politics.) Davis's fine introduction mentions that it was impossible to include the entire work in this edition and, pressed by this stricture, the decision to leave out some of the moral minutiae (as being of less interest to contemporary readers.) certainly we could all benefit today from contemplation of moral teachings and from access to more of Ferdowsi's compelling work in Davis's felicitous and seemingly transparent translation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Awaited 24 April 2016
By makifat - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The publication of this fresh translation fills a huge gap in world literature, on par with Penguin's release a few years ago of the 3 volume Thousand and One Nights and Tales of the Marvelous and News of the Strange. Well done!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading this book before bedtime if you usually do not enjoy dense reading might help you out too. 14 May 2016
By Anna Faktorovich - Published on Amazon.com
Scholarly and Creative Book and Journal Reviews: Pennsylvania Literary Journal: Spring 2016: freely available excerpt: [...]

Abolqasem Ferdowsi. Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings. Dick Davis, Translator. New York: Penguin Books, 2016. $30. ISBN: 978-0-14-310832-0. 996pp.

****

It is a treat to have received a free copy of this great reference book. I always enjoy researching some of the earliest and most complicating books in human history, and this certainly qualifies as a monumental achievement. Abolqasem Ferdowsi was born in a village in Persia, now Iran, in 940 CE, and rose from this humble beginning in scholarly achievement to be funded by the Samanid dynasty that sponsored his writing of this one single book across the entirety of his long adult life. I love the ending in this book, in which the writer finally takes the first-person voice and complains about the indignities he suffered as a dependent of the kings that he spent his life writing about.

After sixty-five years had passed over my head, I toiled ever more diligently and with greater difficulty at my task. I searched out the history of the kings, but my star was a laggard one. Nobles and great men wrote down what I had written without paying me: I watched them from a distance, as if I were a hired servant of theirs. I had nothing from them but their congratulations; my gall bladder was ready to burst with their congratulations! Their purses of hoarded coins remained closed, and my bright heart grew weary at their stinginess. But of the renowned men of my district, Ali Daylami helped me, and that honored man Hosayn Qotayb never asked for my works for nothing. I received food and clothing, silver and gold from him, and it was he who gave me the will to continue. I never had to worry about paying taxes and was able to wrap myself in my quilt in comfort, and when I reached the age of seventy-one, the heavens humbled themselves before my verses…

The above is the translator’s prose version of the multi-volume poem with rhyming couplets at the end of stanzas. The poem ends following the above content with these verses:

I’ve reached the end of this great history
And all the land will fill with talk of me:
I shall not die, these seeds I’ve sown will save
My name and reputation from the grave,
And men of sense and wisdom will proclaim,
When I have gone, my praises and my fame (962).

Right before the above, the last section of the poem describes a rebellion against a king, followed by the violent execution of the rebel that assumed the throne, Mahuy, by the king that stepped in to defend the conquered city, Bizhan. The description of the execution is so brutal it might be fit for a modern black comedy film: “He cut off Mahuy’s hands with his sword and said, ‘These hands have no equal in crime.’ Then he cut off his feet so that he couldn’t move from the spot. Finally, he gave orders that Mahuy’s ears and nose be cut off, and that he be sat on a horse, and left wandering the hot sands till he died of shame” (961). The dark ending with the violent death of a few kings echoes the glum feeling the author was feeling towards the end of the writing process. He has had to fight for his daily bread like a servant instead of being respected for the scholarly and creative work he was doing that was benefiting the nobility that was using his text as propaganda. He might have felt rebellious and might have wanted to stage an uprising of his own to protest the poor treatment that failed to reward him for outstanding work, but the thought of being ripped to pieces for treason probably kept him from inserting still more unflattering images of the kings. The rest of the book includes many negative depictions of despicable acts by the kings of Persian history, and not only propagandistic reviews of their eternal fame and glory. This is a historical epic similar to the Odyssey and both are precursors of the modern European historical novel. The introduction describes the various sources Ferdowsi used to base his accounts of the lives of the kings on factual information.
Overall, I recommend this book to any scholar of Persian history or literature. College students or anybody that wants to read a unique philosophical and fictional exercise would also enjoy browsing some of this book. Though, this book is harder to finish than War and Peace and Anna Karenina combined, so those who enter might not surface on the other side. Reading this book before bedtime if you usually do not enjoy dense reading might help you out too.