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Title: The Persian 'presence' in nineteenth-century English poetry
Author: Taher-Kermani , Reza
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 7448
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the 'presence' of Persia' in nineteenth-century English poetry. The focus is not on translations of Persian poetry as such, but on the ways in which knowledge of Persia, derived from a variety of sources including classical and biblical texts, history, and travel-writing, entered into English poetry in the period. Such knowledge may shape the structure of a poem, or Its verbal texture, and may do so at different levels of intensity and significance. This complex phenomenon cannot fully be covered by the term 'influence'; the term 'presence' encompasses a variety of . literary engagements including translation, imitation, interpretation, representation, conscious allusion, and indirect borrowing. The methodology of the thesis is neither that of conventional literary history, in which questions of influence and intertextuality are of primary concern, nor of cultural history, in which literature is seen as part of a broader analysis of the history of ideas. While recognising the importance of recent cross-cultural theories, notably Edward Said's Orientalism, it does not follow ,any theoretical model in its analysis of the poetic adaptation and appropriation of Persian stories, themes, and tropes. The poems themselves, whether considered in categories or as individual works, are the object of attention; particular emphasis is laid on elements that might be less 'visible' to English readers who lack knowledge of Persian literature in its original forms. The aim is to define the nature, and degree, of 'Persian-ness' in nineteenth-century English poetry. The term itself has multiple and shifting associations, but one strong connecting thread may be discerned in the poems discussed: the persistence, through a period in which British encounters with 'modem' Persia were increasing in the areas of diplomacy and trade, and in which knowledge of the country's history, language, and culture was becoming more exact and more detailed, of a fantasised 'Persia', or Persian 'imaginary', compounded of ancient and in some cases mythic elements. Structurally the thesis moves from context to text, and from general to specific: it begins with the provision of necessary contextual information about Anglo-Persian contacts before the nineteenth century, moves on to survey and classify the 'Persian tendency' in poetry of the period, and then offers case-studies of three central works: Matthew Arnold's Sohrab and Rustum (1853), Edward FitzGerald's Rubaiyat ofOmar Khayyam (1859), and Robert Browning's Ferishtah's Fancies (1884).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available