The Politics of Poetics in Early Qajar Iran: Writing Royal-Commissioned Tazkeras at Fath-ʿAli Shāh’s Court

in Journal of Persianate Studies
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Abstract

The middle of the eighteenth century reportedly witnessed the emergence of the new literary movement in Persian poetry, called the “bāzgasht-e adabi,” or literary return, which rejected the seventeenth-century mainstream Indian or tāza-guʾi style. This literary movement recently merits increased attention from many scholars who are interested in wider Persianate cultures. This article explores the reception of this movement in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Iran and the role played by the Qajar royal court in it, mainly by the analysis of a specific sub-genre of tazkeras, called “royal-commissioned tazkeras,” which were produced from the reign of the second Qajar monarch Fath-ʿAli Shāh onward. A main focus will be on the reciprocal relationship between the court poets/literati and the shah, which presumably somehow affected our understanding of Persian literature today.

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