The Poetics of Persianate Disaffiliation: Recusative Gestures for a Royal Genre

In: Philological Encounters
Samuel Hodgkin Department of Comparative Literature, Yale University New Haven, Connecticut USA

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Across the Persianate regions of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Eurasia, the discourse of modernization had a deep, perhaps even dominant aesthetic dimension. Apparently disparate anxieties about oriental indolence, homosexuality and unmanliness, flattery and unmeaning speech, and submission to despots all may be understood as elements of a coherent critique of a single literary mode: taghazzul. Insofar as ghazal was a “royal genre” (Ireneusz Opacki), it provided the formal-aesthetic framing for numerous literary and speech genres, and thus for the social and political order. In case studies from across the Persianate zone, this article considers how writers’ refusal of taghazzul, or its excision from their texts, became a recognizable gesture of disaffiliation from the Persianate. In the resulting reordering of the literary field, taghazzul took on new functions in relation to the Western category of lyric.

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