The Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

4.4 out of 5 stars 97 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-1933823416
ISBN-10: 1933823410
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Editorial Reviews

Review

With this volume, Davis completes his prose and verse translation of most of the Shahnameh, the Persian national epic, which Ferdowsi completed in about 1010 CE. The first two volumes, The Lion and the Throne (CH, May'98) and Fathers and Sons (CR, Feb'01), rendered the mythical and legendary parts of the epic; the present volume presents the "historical" section. Davis's translation is smooth, elegant, and up-to-date, with no attempt at "stained-glass" effects. He found a felicitous combination of prose and verse that seems just right for its purpose. The verse sections are particularly good, and one wishes for more. This set supersedes The Epic of the Kings, Reuben Levy's translation (CH. Apr'68), hitherto the standard modern prose rendition. The physical book is sumptuous. The design is consistent throughout the three volumes, but the opulence seems to increase with each. No detail is overlooked, and the publishers out do themselves here in the taste and splendor of their reproductions of Persian miniature paintings. Summing Up: Essential. No collection of Middle East studies or art history should be without this three-volume set. ----Choice, W. L. Hanaway

About the Author

ABOLQASEM FERDOWSI was born in Khorasan in a village near Tus, in 940. His great epic the Shahnameh, to which he devoted most of his adult life, was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Persian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. During Ferdowsi's lifetime this dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks, and there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan, Mahmud of Ghazni, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 in poverty and embittered by royal neglect, though confident of his and his poem's ultimate fame.

Dick Davis is currently professor of Persian at Ohio State University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is regarded as the finest translator of Persian literature. His forthcoming book The Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz will be published in 2010.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
97 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on August 24, 2013
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Top international reviews

Catherine Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars Think Persia
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 12, 2014
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iMal
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2015
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Zoie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 1, 2016
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Maite Rodriguez Gutierrez
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 27, 2016
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Kia
5.0 out of 5 stars FERDOWSI THE GREAT
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2016
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Olla
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 23, 2015
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Avicchinna
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece is still a masterpiece!
Reviewed in Canada on April 18, 2016
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Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
5.0 out of 5 stars Ce fut notre creuset. Sera-ce notre tombe?
Reviewed in France on March 29, 2016
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katoo
4.0 out of 5 stars great piece of literature, in a poor book...
Reviewed in Germany on November 12, 2014
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kayaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressed with quality of translation
Reviewed in Canada on June 3, 2019
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Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
5.0 out of 5 stars The modern world all started there. Will it end there too?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 29, 2016
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wizardking
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on December 28, 2015
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Sasan
2.0 out of 5 stars Book quality was not good.
Reviewed in Canada on March 23, 2014
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in India on May 5, 2016
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DT
5.0 out of 5 stars Well presented book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 6, 2013
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