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A Comprehensive English Translation of Shahnameh to be Published in Britain


News Category: Cultural

 15 December 2005



“Shahnameh, The Persian Book of Kings” is the title of latest translation of the epic masterpiece of Shahnameh (the Book of Kings) composed by Master Fersowsi, will be published by Penguin Classic Group in English language on 2nd of March 2006 in 928 pages.

Dick Davis is the translator of the book and Penguin Publication Group will publish the book in Britain.

“Among the great works of world literature, perhaps one of the least familiar to English readers is the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran. This prodigious narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi between the years 980 and 1010 AD, tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the seventh century” says the publisher in the introduction of the book.

The introduction to this book also points out the fact that “as a window to the world, Shahnameh belongs in the company of such literary masterpieces as Dante’s Divine Comedy, the plays of Shakespeare, the epic of Homer-classics whose reach and range bring whole cultures into view.”

The publisher also states that in the masterpiece of Shahnameh, Ferdowsi has illustrated the unforgettable moments of national triumph and failure, human courage and cruelty, blissful love and bitter grief.

Then the publisher explains about the importance of this translation for English speaking people to get familiar with this epic masterpiece, “In tracing the roots of Iran, Shahnameh initially draws on the depths of legend and then carries its story into historical times, when ancient Persia was swept into an expanding Islamic empire. Now Dick Davis, the translator of Persian poetry, has revisited that poem, turning the finest stories of Ferdowsi’s original into an elegant combination of prose and verse. For the first time in English, in the most complete possible form, readers can experience Shahnameh in the same way that Iranian Shahnameh-readers have lovingly conveyed it in Persian for the past thousand years.”

Master Ferdowsi was born in Khorasan province in a village near Tus in 940. His great epic, Shahnameh (the Book of Kings) was originally composed for the Samanid princes. Ferdowsi passed away around 1020 AD in poverty.

Dick Davis, the English translator of the book, is currently professor of Persian literature at Ohio State University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has the experience of living in different countries such as Iran, Greece, and Italy, each for a period of 8 years.

In addition to academic works, he has published numerous translations from Italian (prose) and Persian (prose and verse) and other books of poetry.

His translations from Persian include: The "Conference of Birds" by Farid al-Din Attar Neyshaburi, "My Uncle Napoleon" by Pezeshkzad, the "Lion and the Throne" stories from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, vol.1, "Fathers and Sons", "Sunset of Empire", stories from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, vol. 3, "Shahnameh: the Persian Book of Kings", and "The legend of Siyavash" (Persian Classics) by Ferdowsi.


He has also written several books about the history and literature of Iran including: "Epic & Section: The Case of Ferdowsi Shahnameh", "Borrowed Ware: Medieval Persian Epigrams", and Poetry: a prognosis (Critical Essay): An article from: New Criterion.





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