When trying to understand a country’s history and culture, one should look at that country’s modern literature. This is certainly true when it comes to Iran. There’s a lot you can take away from the voices of their people when you dive into some of their most celebrated modern literary works. Iranians are famous for their love of poetry. Iran’s people are known to have a natural tongue for poetry and you’ll hear verses from poets from centuries ago in everyday conversation. Poetry is often used in political discourse and on TV news stations. With this rich history in poetry, it’s no surprise that Iranian writers are masters at creating engaging, dynamic, and relevant text. Literary experts have noted that there are two influential factors that dominate Iran’s modern literature. These two key influential factors are discussed below.
Strong Connections to Trends of the West
After the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, which took place between 1905-1907, there was a modernization of newspapers, journals, and other publications. During this same period, Iranian graduates from European universities returned home with a wide variety of translations of Western literature. This created a foundation for Iran’s connections with the Western world. Because of government funding, these graduates were able to attend these universities and bring back teachings and philosophies to their home. Sadegh Hedayat (1903-1951) is a poet and writer that stands out amongst a crowd of Iranian modern literary artists. Hedayat’s masterpiece, The Blind Owl (1937), is considered the first modern novel in a Persian language. The story is known to be a reaction to oppression. It reflects discouragement with the Revolution. The narrator acts as a representation of the oppressed Iranian intellectual. Writers like Sadegh Hedayat and Nima Yushij (1895-1960) were able to translate contemporary modern literature from the West and share these important stories with their country.
Political Openness on the Homefront
The second influential factor that contributes to Iranian modern literature development is a clear political openness at home. To see this development, you can look to the effects of the Second World War. During this time, the Iranian central government was becoming weak. Between that and the occupation of allied forces, there was suddenly a rise in political activism. In addition, there were around 500 newspapers and independent publications that began to circulate. The writers of this modern age were intensely connected to social and political issues. They were exposed to works by Faulkner, Stienbeck and Hemingway. Bozorg Alavi, Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, and Sadegh Chubak were some of the most notable writers and novelists that represented a deep political commitment during this period.
If you’d like to learn more about the contributions to Iran’s modern literature, you can reach out to one of the strongest Iranian community organizations, The Organization of Iranian American Communities. We can provide endless information on Iranian history, culture, and their connections to the West. We have detailed explanations of US and Iran relations, human rights issues, and democratic uprisings. Check out our events calendar to see all of the amazing opportunities we create to teach and connect with our community. Contact us today to learn more about Iran’s rich literary history!