Iran Literature – Modern Age Part II

By | December 16, 2021


It characterized the years following the Second World War, but above all the ouster from power of Prime Minister MH Mossadeq (1953). The process of Westernization intensified: intellectuals reacted to the frenzied race for development, drawing attention to the serious social imbalances that ensued. Among the writers of that period: Gialāl Āl-i Aḥmad, Ṣ. Ciūbak, ‛AM Afghānī, Giamāl Mīr Ṣādīqī. The story, more than the novel, lent itself better to the literary reproduction of everyday life: in this sense Gulestān, Tunkābunī, Daulatābādī and others stand out.

The most consistent innovations came on the side of poetry, which at the end of the 1950s saw the birth of the shi’ri nau (“new poetry”): the traditional structure of the verse was broken down and adapted according to procedures of reduction and expansion of the ancient formal laws. Yūshīǵ had been the forerunner and head of the school, and Shāmlū was his most direct heir.The poets of this school, which had its moment of greatest flourishing in the 1960-70s, manifested a multiplicity of tendencies: the lyricism of traditional inspiration, anticipated by M. Āzād and Umīd, and perfected by the neo-romantic N. Nādirpūr, was opposed the formal neglect of the late Symbolist and Surrealist taste of the poets of the naug-i nau (from the French nouvelle vague), among which Aḥmadī stands out. A particular place is occupied by the poet F. Farrukhzād, who offers the most balanced synthesis of this school. In the theater the attempt was to graft forms of Western origin, from symbolism to the absurd, on a local and traditional vein. In this regard, the work of B. Beizā’ī and Na‛albandiyān is interesting. In 1967, national television organized the first Shiraz Festival of the Arts, and during the international film festival (1970), Iranian films enjoyed considerable success. For Iran 2015, please check


It was initiated by the atmosphere of expectations and hopes aroused by the revolution (1979), which attracted numerous men of letters and intellectuals to their homeland. With the advent of the Islamic regime, many hopes were dashed; numerous writers left the Iran to continue their business abroad (Sā’idī, Tunkābunī etc.), others remained choosing the path of silence (Ṣ. Ciūbak) or of compromise (Barāhinī, Daulatābādī, Shāmlū). In poetry, apart from a few isolated voices, the influence of the Islamic revolution was great. The prose, on the other hand, does not seem to deviate from the trends of the previous era, as emerges in Sālārīhā (“General commands”, 1979) by B. ‛Alawī; in Kelīdār (1979) by Daulatābādī, in Zamīnsukhte (“Scorched earth”, 1982) by Aḥmad-i Maḥmūd. For the theater, production is limited, but above all influenced by regime censorship on the one hand, and by the slavish imitation of the West on the other, without any consideration for a worthy continuation of the cultural and literary experiences of an Islam that is not a regime, but progressive and enlightened.

Between the end of the 20th century. and the beginning of the 21st in poetry, H. Ibtihāġ stood out, distinguished by his social commitment and a particularly refined style (Yādgār-i khūn-i sarw “In memory of the blood of the cypress”, 1990); S. Kasrā‛i, author of verses inspired by the great myths of Iran; Umīd, who described nature and daily life in his poetry traversed by a vein of pessimism. The path traced by Nīmā Yūshīǵ, however, was not followed by all poets: independent paths chose Farshidwār, who preferred to return to classical prosody, and the poet S. Bihbahāni ( York dariceh āzādī «A breath of freedom», 1995), which defines itself as independent. Still different paths have explored other poets: F. Tawallulī, with poems characterized by a search for new expressions and a mirror of changing individual and collective feelings; S. Sepehrī, in which poetic and pictorial aptitude merge with results of notable interest; M. Āteshi, with lyrics rich in emotion; M. ‛A. Sepānlū, with melodic verses scattered with metaphors (-i umīd wa haykal-i tārik “The hour of hope and the body of darkness”, 1989). In the general panorama, finally, Y. Royā‛i, head of the literary current shi‛ri ḥaǵm (“volume poetry”) stands out: fascinated by the universe of forms and structures, he published a collection of poems, Edges of poetry (1995), with the Persian text opposite. In prose, a generation of writers has emerged including: E. Ṭabarī; M. Zamānī Niyā, who stands out for the great attention and sensitivity with which he turns to the rural world in Kuč-i Ismā‛īl (“The flight of Iran”, 1985), recounting, through the fate of an orphaned adolescent, the emotional and social life of an entire village; Iran Faṣīḥ, who, in Thorayyā dar ighmā ‘(“T. in coma”, 1983), describes the life of the Iranian diaspora in Paris; B. Ṣādiqī, author of short stories characterized by a marked ironic vein; S. Pārsipur, who was arrested after the appearance of Zanān bedun-i mardān (“Women without men”, 1989), from which the homonymous film by S. Neshat was made (2009); M. Rawānipur, who in her novels, set in the Persian Gulf, does not hide the difficulties of being a woman and a writer (Dil-i fulad «Heart of archer», 1991); finally, P. Sulaymānī, whose short stories Ricordo del sole (1984) and Aqajan’s Ink (1993) have been published in Italy.

Despite the richness and liveliness of the panorama, the literature of the Iranit has not yet found its own space in the international arena, due to the isolation from which all Iranian culture suffers. From this point of view, a separate case in terms of visibility is that of the screenwriter and designer M. Satrapi, resident in France, who with Persépolis (4 vol., 2000-03), an autobiographical graphic novel that has become a film of animation (2007), brought to the fore the problems of the uprooting of the emigrated Iranian intellectual.

Iran Literature