*Starred Review* That the course of true love never runs smoothly is the grand theme of Gorgani’s immense eleventh-century Persian verse romance that, given its age and the presumed far greater sophistication of twenty-first-century people, should be unreadably and temperamentally archaic. Yet, as translator Davis points out in a long, keenly interesting historical-critical introduction, those who enjoy florid romantic operas (early-nineteenth-century bel canto works, he suggests) or the lovesick blues of so much American country music, and give Gorgani a chance, may find themselves on familiar ground. The story is that of a love triangle, the sides of which are a king, the queen promised him before she was born, and her lover, the king’s youngest brother. Over the course of 10 years, the lovers are parted, forcibly and voluntarily, and reunited time after time. When they are together, they rapturously hail their happiness; when parted, they wallow in misery; when planning reunification and actually reuniting, they trade elaborate recriminations before falling into one another’s arms. Davis has rendered the couplets of Gorgani into end-rhymed iambic pentameters so fluently and precisely (slant rhymes are astonishingly few) that the passion of the poem’s sensuous rhetoric sweeps the reader along in defiance of the relative lack of action. A masterpiece of both its author’s and its translator’s arts. --Ray Olson
MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS I HAVE EVER READ
Dick Davis has refreshed the classic verse form of the English epic--iambic pentameter couplets--and brought a very non-Western poem into the Western canon. His accomplishment is such that one wonders what might have happened to Western literature if Persia had triumphed at the Battle of Salamis. Vis & Ramin
may not be the truest or greatest epic ever written, but it is the sexiest, and at times I could not help thinking that Davis’ translation might be one of the most beautiful things I had ever read. --Mark Jarman, The Hudson Review
.AN ASTONISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL AND POWERFUL POEM. . .
I can't think of a modern metrical translation of a long poem that is more natural and readable, that is never embarrassing either as translation or as aesthetically effective verse. --Philip White, author of The Clearing
.LOVE ON THE ROOF
One of the most extraordinary and fascinating love narratives produced anywhere in the medieval world, Islamic or Christian....Excellent introduction makes a convincing case for Vis and Ramin
being the source for Tristan and Isolde....
New translation by the poet Dick Davis, widely regarded as our finest translator of Persian poetry, in heroic couplets....This wonderful work should win Gorgani the Western audience he richly deserves.--Times Literary Supplement
of both its author's and its translator's arts. --Booklist, Ray Olson
.FULL OF STRIKING CHARACTERS AND SITUATIONS. . .
The translation is delightful and should remain the standard English version for a long time. . .This important volume should be part of any collection. . .Highly recommended.