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The Kite Runner


The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini The 20th Century, cont d. In the 1930s, the Herat Literary Circle and the Kabul Literary Circle published magazines dedicated to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner
  • By Khaled Hosseini

Biography Early Childhood
  • Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan
  • His father worked with the Afghan Foreign
  • His mother taught taught Farsi and History at a
    girls high school
  • In 1970, Hosseini moved with his parents to
    Paris, France
  • In 1973 the family returned to Kabul
  • In 1980 the family sought political asylum in The
    United States

Biography - Education
  • Hosseini graduated high school in 1984
  • Obtained his bachelors degree in biology from
    Santa Clara University in 1988
  • Earned his medical degree in 1993 from the
    University of California

Biography Interesting Facts
  • In June 2006 he was awarded the 2006 Humanitarian
    Award from the UN Refugee Agency. There are
    currently more than 3.6 million paperback copies
    of The Kite Runner in print

Biography - Influences
  • As a child, Hosseini read a great deal of Persian
    poetry as well as Persian translations of novels
  • His memories of peaceful pre-Soviet era
    Afghanistan, as well as his personal experiences
    with Afghan Hazaras, led to the writing of The
    Kite Runner

Statue of Khayyam, Persian poet and philosopher
at his mausoleum in Neyshabur.
Biography - Novels
  • The Kite Runner is Hosseinis first novel
  • It is also the first novel published in English
    by an Afghan
  • The novel, tells the story of two young boys in
    an Afghanistan that precedes the bloody communist
    coup, Soviet invasion, and the rise of the
    Taliban. The novel traverses decadesand
    continentsbringing American readers into a world
    theyve rarely glimpsed, of violence and poverty
    and tragic betrayal. At the same time, its a
    universal tale of friendship, redemption and
    profound hope.
  • The novel was the number three best seller for
    2005 in the United States
  • A movie by the same name is set to be released in
    November 2007
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns is due to be released in
    May of 2007

Biography Perspective on American Agenda in
  • The two major issues in Afghanistan are a lack of
    security outside Kabul (particularly in the South
    and East) and the powerful warlords ruling over
    the provinces with little or no allegiance to the
    central government.
  • The other rapidly rising concern is the narcotic
    trade which, if not dealt with, may turn
    Afghanistan into another Bolivia or Colombia.
  • Equally important is the lack of cultivable land
    for farmers
  • Afghanistan has always largely been an
    agricultural country, and that even before the
    wars destroyed lands and irrigation canals, only
    5 per cent of the land was cultivable.
  • The Bush administration tripled

    its aid package to Afghanistan.
    finally (and courageously)
    announced that warlords
    will be
    forbidden from holding office in
    the future
  • NATO agreed to expand the
    peacekeeping forces to
    areas outside of Kabul

Biography - Links
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The People and Cultural Atmosphere
of Afghanistan
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Culture Definition(s)
  • The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a
    particular social, racial or ethnic group. (ie.
  • Also, a particular form or stage of civilization
    (as it pertains to the development of a nation).
  • Further, the development or improvement of the
    mind by education or training. (ie. Miss McKee is

Map 1 of Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan lies across ancient trade and
    invasion routes from central Asia into India.
    This geographic position has been the greatest
    influence on its history and culture. Invaders
    often came there and stayed.

Trade Route The Silk Road
Ancient City Gates
Present Population
  • For the most part, Afghans are farmers, although
    a significant minority follows a nomadic
    lifestyle. In the years since the Soviet invasion
    and the later civil war, a large number of
    Afghans have fled the country and become refugees
    in neighboring nations, most typically in Iran
    and Pakistan.
  • Present Estimates place Afghanistans population
    at approx. 25 million

The Afghans
  • The population of Afghanistan is comprised of a
    variety of ethnic groups called Afghans.
  • The largest of these groups are
  • - Pashtun
  • - Tajiks
  • - Hazara

Borders? What Borders?
  • The people of Afghanistan are related to many of
    the ethnic groups in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan,
    Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan the borders drawn
    between these groups are arbitrary.

The Pashtuns
  • The Pashtuns (Pushtuns), who make up the majority
    of the population, have traditionally been the
    dominant ethnic group. Their homeland lies south
    of the Hindu Kush, although Pashtun groups live
    in all parts of the country.
  • Male Pashtuns live by ancient tribal code called
    Pashtunwali, which stresses courage, personal
    honor, resolution, self-reliance, and
    hospitality. The Pashtuns speak Pashto, which is
    one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.

Pashtun Rider
The Tajiks
  • The Tajiks (Tadzhiks), are the second largest
    ethnic group in Afghanistan. They live in the
    valleys north of Kabul and in Badakhshan. They
    are farmers, artisans, and merchants. The Tajiks
    speak Dari (Afghan Persian), the 2nd official

An Artisan of Badakhshan
The Hazaras
  • In the central ranges live the Hazaras. Although
    their ancestors came from a region in
    northwestern China, the Hazaras speak an archaic
    (old) Persian. Most are poor farmers and
  • The Hazaras have long been discriminated against.
    In part, this is because they are minority
    Shiites (followers of Shia Islam) within a
    dominant Sunni Muslim population.
  • Most Hazaras live north of the Kabul River in an
    isolated, wooded, mountainous region known as

North of the Kabul River
The Hazaras
  • The Hazaras are of particular importance in our
    study of The Kite Runner for reasons that will
    become apparent as you read the novel.

Religious Divisions
  • The strongest tie among these various ethnic
    groups is their religion Islam. The majority of
    Afghans (99 percent) are Muslims.
  • The population is thus split along religious
    lines Sunni (84) and Shia (15).
  • Each of these two religious groups has its own
    set of beliefs and traditions. Ostensibly, each
    has its own culture.
  • Note The minority Shiites are made up of the
    Hazaras and Tajiks, whereas the Sunnis are

Behaviors and Beliefs
  • An outline of the belief system of Islam is far
    beyond the scope of this presentation, of course,
    though indeed we can list some major tenets, as
    well as some differences between Sunni and Shia

from the Quran
  • The Messenger of God said, Islam is built on
    five pillars bearing witness that there is no
    god but God and Muhammad is His prophet,
    establishing the prayer, giving zakat, hajj, and
    fasting during Ramadan.

The Five Pillars of Islam
  • The Testimony of Faith (Shahadah) - the
    declaration that there is none worthy of worship
    except Allah (God) and that Muhammad is his
  • Ritual Prayer (Salat) - establishing of the five
    daily Prayers.
  • Obligatory almsgiving (Zakat) - which is
    generally 2.5 of the total savings for a rich
    man working in trade or industry, and 10 or 20
    of the annual produce for agriculturists. This
    money or produce is distributed among the poor.
  • Fasting (Sawm) from sunrise to sunset during
    the holy month of Ramadan.
  • The Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) - this is done
    during the month of Zul Hijjah, and is compulsory
    once in a lifetime for one who has the ability to
    do it. If the Muslim is in ill health or in debt,
    he or she is not required to perform Hajj.).
    Note Mecca is in Saudi Arabia.

Sunni vs. Shia in Afghanistan
  • Sunni Muslims comprise the vast majority of the
    population of Afghanistan.
  • Shiites are in the minority and suffer under the
    domination of the stronger group.
  • Elsewhere in the world, this is often reversed.
    In Iran, for example, Shiites are the more
    powerful group.
  • To complicate things, a minority group can also
    have the power as was the case in Iraq, and is
    still is in places such as Bahrain.

Disagreement among Muslims?
Sunni vs. Shia Continued
  • Shia Muslims believe that the descendents from
    Muhammad through his beloved daughter Fatima
    Zahra and his son-in-law Ali (the Imams) were the
    best source of knowledge about the Qur'an and
    Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors
    of Muhammad's traditions.
  • In particular, Shia Muslims recognize the
    authority of Ali - Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law,
    and the first young man to accept Islam. He is
    the father of the Prophet Muhammad's only
  • This is directly opposed to that of the caliphate
    recognized by Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims
    believe that Ali was appointed successor by
    Muhammad's direct order on many occasions, and
    that he is therefore the rightful leader of the
    Muslim faith.

The Caliphs (Sunni Tradition)
  • A Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and
    the title for the leader of the Islamic Ummah, or
    global Islamic nation. It means "successor" or
  • The early leaders of the Muslim nation following
    Muhammad's (570632) death were called "Khalifat
    ar-rasul Allah", meaning the political successor
    to the prophet of God.
  • After the first four caliphs, the title was
    claimed by various political leaders including
    the Ottomans, and at times, by competing
    dynasties in Spain, Northern Africa, and Egypt.
    Most historical Muslim governors were called
    sultans or amirs, and gave allegiance to a

The Issue
  • It is this issue of political succession vs.
    that of rightful authority that has divided the
    Muslim world for centuries.
  • This issue has been the cause of many civil wars
    (like that in Afghanistan in the 1990s).
  • Note The civil antagonism presently brewing in
    Iraq is essentially over this very issue.
  • Warwhat is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say
    it again

Welcome to the world of The Kite Runner
A World of Conflict, Struggle and Lost Innocence
Some Afghan Proverbs
  • A real friend is one who takes the hand of his
    friend in time of distress and helplessness.
  • One flower does not bring spring.
  • No rose is without thorns.
  • The first day you meet, you are friends. The next
    day you meet, you are brothers.

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A Brief History of Afghanistan
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The Middle of the World
  • Afghanistan's history its political
    development, foreign relations, and indeed, its
    very existence as a state- has largely been
    determined by its geographic location at the
    crossroads of Central, West, and South Asia.

Map 1 Asia
Ancient Crossroads
  • Since the dawn of prehistory, waves of migrating
    peoples have passed through the region described
    by historian Arnold Toynbee as a "roundabout of
    the ancient world, leaving behind a story of
    conquest and retribution, conquest and

Map 2 Afghanistan
The Terrain
  • Afghanistan is shaped roughly like a clenched
    fist with the thumb extended out to the
    northeast. The country covers an area of about
    650,000 sq km. Its maximum length from east to
    west is about 1250 km from north to south
    approx.1000 km.
  • The northwestern, western, and southern borders
    are primarily desert plains and rocky ranges,
    whereas the southeast and northeast borders rise
    progressively higher into the major,
    glacier-covered peaks of the Hindu Kush - an
    extension of the western Himalayas.
  • Only the northern border is formed by a river,
    the Amu Darya.

The Terrain 2
Afghan History A Tournament of Shadows
  • It is safe to think of Afghanistan as the center
    square of a chess board. In its long history,
    the region has rarely known peace for any
    substantial period of time. Afghanistan has been
    invaded from all sides.
  • Any outline of the History of Afghanistan will
    necessarily focus on vast armies of the world
    passing through the territory, temporarily
    establishing local control in an endless
    tournament of shadows.
  • "Frontiers are the razor's edge on which hang
    suspended the issue of war or peace and the life
    of nations. Lord Curzon

Soviet Era Tanks
Pre-Historical (The Stone Age)
  • Archaeologists have identified evidence of stone
    age technology around present day Kabul.
  • Settlement remains at the foothills of the Hindu
    Kush mountains indicate that Northern Afghanistan
    was one of the earliest places on earth to
    domesticate plants and animals.

Historical Firsts
  • Zoroastrianism - the worlds first monotheistic
    system of belief was founded in Afghanistan.
    Judaism and Christianity would later borrow many
    ideas from this religion (including that of
    Heaven and Hell).
  • It has been indicated that Bronze (an alloy of
    copper and tin) may have been invented in ancient
    Afghanistan 3000 years BCE.
  • Many Historians believe that the earliest great
    civilizations (Babylonia, India, Egypt, Persia)
    were started by people (the Aryans) who migrated
    from and through Afghanistan.

Persian Ruins (Iran)
  • The meaning of the word Iran is the country of
    Aryans. Iranians have always, from ancient
    times, referred to themselves as Aryans. This
    term has been used by Imperialist European
    nations (unjustly?) since the 1830s in an attempt
    to establish an historical link to the ancient
    cultures of the past.

Pre-Islamic Period (pre- 651 CE)
  • Afghanistan's known pre-Islamic past began with
    Aryan invasions around 2000 BC and continued with
    Persian, Median and Greek conquests.
  • Following the defeat of the Persians in 329 BC,
    Alexander the Great entered the territory of
    modern Afghanistan to capture Bactria
    (present-day Balkh). Invasions by the Scythians,
    White Huns, and Turks followed in succeeding
  • During Kushan rule (100-250 CE), Afghanistan
    became a great center of culture and learning.
    When the Kushan Empire faded, The Sassanians and
    other Persian powers ruled most of Afghanistan
    until the coming of Muslim armies (mid-7th
    century CE).

Alexander in Persia
  • Alexander the Great fighting the Persian king
    Darius (Pompeii mosaic, from a 4th century BC
    original Greek painting now lost)

Islamic Conquests
  • The invasion of Persia was complete five years
    after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
    All of the Persian territories came under Arab
    control, though pockets of tribal resistance
    continued for centuries.
  • During the 7th century CE, Arab armies from Sinai
    made their way into the region of Afghanistan
    with the new religion of Islam.

Islamic Empire?
  • The Islamic conquest of Persia (637-653) led to
    the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion
    in Persia. However, the achievements of the
    previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but
    were to a great extent absorbed by the new
    Islamic polity.
  • Over the next 500 years, an Islamic culture took
    hold of the region (under the authority of a
    Caliphate), its influence extending in an uneasy
    empire from India to Spain.

Caliphate in Afghanistan
The Mongols
  • By 1219 the empire had fallen to the Mongols.
  • Led by Genghis Khan, the invasion resulted in
    massive slaughter of the population, destruction
    of many cities, including Herat, Ghazni, and
    Balkh, and the despoliation of fertile
    agricultural areas. Following Genghis Khan's
    death in 1227, a succession of petty chiefs and
    princes struggled for supremacy until late in the
    14th century, when one of his descendants, Timur
    Lang, incorporated what is today Afghanistan into
    his own vast Asian empire. Babur, a descendant of
    Timur and the founder of Moghul Empire at the
    beginning of the 16th century, made Kabul the
    capital. To the West, the territory fell into the
    hands of local warriors.

Genghis Khan
Lead into Modern Times
  • Afghanistan was divided in many parts in the
    16th, 17th and early 18th century. North were the
    Uzbeks, west was Safavid's rule and east was the
    Mughal's and local Pashtun rule. In 1709, the
    Pashtuns (Afghans) decided to rise against the
    Persian Safavids. The Persians were defeated very
    badly and the Afghans held Iran from 1719-1729.
    Nadir Shah of Persia pushed back the Afghans. In
    1738, Nadir Shah conquered Kandahar, in the same
    year he occupied Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore. After
    his death in 1747, the Durrani Pashtuns became
    the principal Afghan rulers.

Nadir Shah
The British Experience
  • Collision between the expanding British and
    Russian Empires significantly influenced
    Afghanistan during the 19th century in what was
    termed "The Great Game."
  • British concern over Russian advances in Central
    Asia culminated in two Anglo-Afghan wars.
  • "The Siege of Herat" 1837-1842, had the Persians
    trying to retake Afghanistan from the British.
    The siege resulted in the destruction of a
    British army, thus prompting the Great Empire to
    withdraw in disgrace. To this day, the battle for
    Herat is remembered as an example of the ferocity
    of Afghan resistance to foreign rule.

The British Withdraw
  • Afghanistan remained neutral during World War I,
    despite German encouragement of anti-British
    feelings and Afghan rebellion along the borders
    of British India. The Afghan king's policy of
    neutrality was not universally popular within the
    country, however.
  • In 1919, the Kings son and successor was
    assassinated, possibly by family members opposed
    to British influence. His third son only regained
    control of Afghanistan's foreign policy after
    launching the Third Anglo-Afghan War with an
    attack on India.
  • During the ensuing conflict, the war-weary
    British forever relinquished their control over
    Afghan foreign affairs, signing the Treaty of
    Rawalpini in August 1919. In commemoration of
    this event, Afghans celebrate August 19th as
    their Independence Day.

Civil War and a Short Line of Kings
  • Following a ten year civil war for control of the
    new state, Afghanistan entered into a period of
    relative stability and prosperity under the
    reigns of Nadir Shah and Zahir Shah (1929-1973).
  • Zahir Shah (pictured right) became the youngest,
    longest-serving and last king of Afghanistan.
  • You will remember these kings were mentioned in
    your novel...

Upheaval Amid the Cold War
  • Amid charges of corruption against the royal
    family and poor economic conditions created by
    severe drought (1971-72), former Prime Minister
    Mohammad Daoud Khan seized power in a military
    coup on July 17, 1973.
  • Zahir Shah fled the country, eventually finding
    refuge in Italy.
  • Daoud abolished the monarchy, and declared
    Afghanistan a republic with himself as its first
    President and Prime Minister. His attempts to
    carry out badly needed economic and social
    reforms met with little success, and the new
    constitution promulgated in February 1977 failed
    to quell chronic political instability.

Upheaval Amid the Cold War 2
  • Disillusionment set in. On April 27, 1978, the
    communist PDPA (Peoples Democratic Party of
    Afghanistan) initiated a bloody coup, which
    resulted in the overthrow and murder of Daoud and
    most of his family.
  • Nur Muhammad Taraki, Secretary General of the
    PDPA, became President of the Revolutionary
    Council and Prime Minister of the newly
    established Democratic Republic of Afghanistan -
    strongly supported by the USSR.

Backview of Afghan Parliament
The PDPA Agenda
  • The PDPA, as a Communist Party, implemented a
    socialist agenda which included decrees
    abolishing usury, banning forced marriages, state
    recognition of womens rights to vote, replacing
    religious and traditional laws with secular and
    Marxist ones, banning tribal courts, and land
    reform. Men were obliged to cut their beards,
    women couldn't wear a burqa, and mosque visiting
    was forbidden.
  • The PDPA invited the Soviet Union to assist in
    modernizing its economy. The USSR sent
    contractors to build roads, hospitals, schools
    and mine for water wells. They also trained and
    equipped the Afghan army.

The Russians Roll In
  • These reforms and the PDPA's monopoly on power
    were met with a huge backlash, partly led by
    members of the traditional establishment. Many
    groups were formed in an attempt to reverse the
    dependence on the Soviet Union, some resorting to
    violent means and sabotage of the country's
    industry and infrastructure. The government
    responded with a heavy handed military
    intervention and arrested, exiled and executed
    many mujahideen holy muslim warriors".
  • In 1979, the Afghan army was overwhelmed with the
    number of incidents, and the Soviet Union sent
    troops to crush the uprising. On December 25,
    1979 the Soviet army entered Kabul, and installed
    a pro-Moscow government.

The Russians are in the House!
Resistance / Bad Tidings
  • For over nine years the Soviet Army conducted
    military operations against the Afghan mujahideen
    rebels. The American CIA, Pakistan, and Saudi
    Arabia assisted in the financing of the
    resistance because of their anti-communist
    stance, and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, because
    of their Islamist inclinations.
  • Their efforts were eventually successful, and in
    February 1989, after ten bloody years the Soviet
    Union reluctantly withdrew its troops. The
    mujahideen had become a force to be reckoned

Public Enemy 1
  • Among the foreign participants in the war against
    the Soviet Union was Osama bin Laden, whose
    organization trained mujahideen, and provided
    some arms and funds to fight the Soviets. Bin
    Laden, although only playing a limited part in
    this conflict, broke away with some of his more
    militant members to form Al-Qaeda (1988). His
    dream was to expand the anti-Soviet resistance
    effort into a worldwide Islamic fundamentalist

The Taliban
  • When the victorious mujahideen entered Kabul to
    assume control over the city and the central
    government, fighting soon began between the
    various militias, which had coexisted only
    uneasily during the Soviet occupation. With the
    demise of their common enemy, the militias'
    ethnic, clan, religious, and personality
    differences surfaced, and a second civil war
  • In reaction to the anarchy and warlordism
    prevalent in the country, and the lack of Pashtun
    representation in the Kabul government, the
    Taliban, a movement of religious scholars and
    former mujahideen, emerged from the southern
    province of Kandahar. The Taliban took control of
    approximately 95 of the country by the end of
    2000, limiting the opposition mostly to a small
    corner in the northeast.

Sept. 11th, 2001
  • The Taliban were ardent supporters of Bin Ladens
    Al-Qaeda network. They provided barracks and
    protection for his training camps. We all know
    where that lead

Invasion Again
  • In response to the September 11, 2001 attacks,
    the United States and its allies (including
    Canada) launched an invasion of Afghanistan to
    oust the Taliban government.
  • Sponsored by the UN, Afghan factions met in Bonn,
    Germany and chose a 30 member interim authority
    led by Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun from Kandahar.
    After governing for 6 months, former King Zahir
    Shah returned to convene a Loya Jirga (council
    meeting), which elected Karzai as president and
    gave him authority to govern for two more years.
    On October 9, 2004, Karzai was elected as
    president of Afghanistan in the country's first
    ever presidential election.

Another Chapter Underway
  • Tension is again running high in his country with
    a resurrgence of the Taliban underway- Hamid
    Karzai is in a very difficult position
    poltically. Will he last?
  • For our part, Canadian Troops increasingly
    encounter resistance in the South. Are we engaged
    in a war without end? The debate rages

Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan
When you think of modern Afghanistan, know this
  • 30 years of continuous war has totally crippled
    the economy. In many parts of the country, one
    must try to survive day-by-day by scrounging
    enough food to eat.
  • An average person faces a high chance of becoming
    blind or crippled simply because of the lack of
    fresh fruit and vegetables (malnutrition).
  • Most people do not have the facilities to receive
    an education, nor do they have the facilities to
    receive medical treatment. Still, hundreds of
    thousands of people are maimed or disabled
    because of war and land mines. Illiteracy rates
    stand at 50.  
  • Today, the average life-expectancy for males is
    40 years. For females, it is 43 years.

Works Cited
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Persian Literature
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  • According to UNESCO, the total literacy rate in
    Afghanistan in 2000 was 36.3 percent.
  • The rate is 51 percent for males, and only 20.8
    percent for females (because previous Taliban
    laws prevented the education of women).
  • However, Persian poetry has played a significant
    role in Afghan culture since pre-Islamic times.

Pre-Islamic Period
  • Persian literature dates as far back as 650 BCE,
    but most Zoroastrian writings were destroyed
    during the Islamic conquest of Iran
  • Due to anti-Persian policies, Arabic became the
    primary language, but literature written in other
    languages by those of Persian descent is still
    considered to be Persian.

The Medieval Era
  • Persian was revived during the Middle Ages, due
    in large part to Persian poet Ferdowsi, who wrote
    the Shahnama in 1000 AD.
  • You should recall that a copy of this book was
    given to Amir as a birthday present from Ali in
    The Kite Runner.

The Middle Ages, contd.
  • Poetry became an extremely important form in
    Persian literature, and could even be found in
    scientific or metaphysical texts.
  • This was linked to a tradition of court (royal)
    patronage and panegyrics (public speeches of
    praise), which led to the emergence of epic
    poetry, the greatest of which can be found in the
    Shanama (or Shahnameh).

The Shahnama
The Shahnama
  • In addition to reviving the Persian language,
    this text is considered to be a literary
    masterpiece that reflects Iranian history,
    cultural values, ancient religions, and
  • Although the focus is on Iran, it is important to
    all Persian peoples, including those of

The Shahnama
  • Known as The Epic of Kings, the poem itself
    contains 62 stories and 990 chapters, consisting
    of 60,000 couplets, and is based on an earlier
    prose work by the same author.
  • In general, the book recounts the history of
    Iran, though not necessarily in precise
    chronological order. Ferdowsis poetic style
    prevents the story from becoming a dry historial
  • The characters (heroes, villains, and shahs) come
    and go, but the image of Greater Iran remains

The Shahnama
  • The tragic story of Rostam and Sohrab can be
    found in the section devoted to the heroic age
    (which comprises about two thirds of the text).
  • It has been turned into a famous opera and, more
    recently, an elaborate puppet opera.
  • It is also the subject of a poem by English
    writer Matthew Arnold.

The Shahnama
  • Ferdowsi did not expect his reader to pass over
    historical events indifferently, but asked
    him/her to think carefully, to see the grounds
    for the rise and fall of individuals and nations
    and to learn from the past in order to improve
    the present, and to better shape the future.
  • Ferdowsi stresses his belief that since the world
    is transient, and since everyone is merely a
    passerby, one is wise to avoid cruelty, lying,
    avarice, and other traditional evils instead one
    should strive for justice, honor, truth, order,
    and other traditional virtues.

The Middle Ages, contd.
  • In the thirteenth century, lyric (i.e. emotional)
    poetry became popular, particularly mystical and
    Sufi poetry.
  • Much of this poetry was actually directed at
    young men pages, slaves, and soldiers.
  • Some leaders in this genre were Rumi, Sadi, and

The Middle Ages, contd.
  • A memorable prose epic from this era is One
    Thousand and One Nights, which includes the
    stories of Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty
    Thieves, and Sinbad the Sailor.
  • One important poetic form to emerge from this era
    was the ghazal (pronounced guzzle).

The Ghazal
  • Originating in the 10th century, and still
    important in Persian literature today, this type
    of poem involves a very strict structure, and
    traditionally deals with the subject of love.
  • The term refers to the form of the poem, and can
    thus be composed in any language.
  • It has evolved into a popular song form in India
    and Pakistan.

The Ghazal
  • Popular themes include
  • Illicit unattainable love
  • Sufism ("a science whose objective is the
    reparation of the heart and turning it away from
    all else but God).
  • Eventually, this form found its way into English
    poetry, and the worlds first anthology of
    English-language ghazals was published in 1996.

The Ghazal
  • The form consists of a short lyric composed in a
    single metre with a single rhyme throughout.
  • Often the poets pen name is incorporated into
    the last line in a creative way, in a tradition
    known as Maqta.

The 19th Century
  • A great change occurred when Prime Minister Amir
    Kabir expressed his concern that traditional
    poetic forms were detrimental to the progress
    and modernization of Iranian society.
  • This led to a wave of comparative literature and
    literary criticism, adapted from Western culture.

The 20th Century
  • After returning to Afghanistan from exile in
    Turkey, Mahmud Tarzi began to publish a bi-weekly
    newpaper, which became an important part of the
    Afghan modernist movement.
  • He was also the first to introduce the novel in
    Afghanistan, and translated many English novels.

The 20th Century, contd.
  • In the 1930s, the Herat Literary Circle and the
    Kabul Literary Circle published magazines
    dedicated to culture and Persian literature.
  • Despite strong traditional influences, new styles
    did manage to evolve, and in 1962 a book of
    modern poetry was published in Kabul.
  • Many emerging Afghanistani writers (such as Asef
    Soltanzadeh, Reza Ebrahimi, Ameneh Mohammadi, and
    Abbas Jafari) grew up in Iran and were under the
    influence of Iranian writers, which was evident
    in most of their work.

The 20th Century, contd.
  • Persian short stories have undergone an evolution
    from the formative period (with a focus on
    modernism), through a period of growth and
    development (with a focus on political and
    psychological issues), to a period of diversity
    (which involves a great deal of experimentation
    and change).

The 20th Century, contd.
  • After years of classical tradition, Nima Yushij
    introduced new forms of modern Persian poetry
    that involved much more freedom of structure and
    a focus on human and social existence.
  • This led to a movement of Sepid poetry, which
    is a type of free verse.

Contemporary Literature
  • Although Iranian literature has enjoyed more
    prominence worldwide, Afghanistani writers are
    beginning to emerge.
  • The Kite Runner was the first novel to be written
    in English by an Afghan(-American) writer.
  • Private poetry competitions events, known as
    mushaera are still held, even among ordinary
    people (i.e. not just published writers).

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