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Vis and Ramin Hardcover – February 14, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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


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.

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.

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.

A MASTERPIECE 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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Mage Publishers; 1st edition (February 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933823178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933823171
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,798,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It may be of interest to have some historical Background and context to what Dick Davis took on as a project when he decided to translate this Masterpiece:
(Vis o Ramin) is an ancient Persian love story. The epic was composed in poetry by the Persian poet Asad Gorgani in 11th century.

The story dates from pre-Islamic Persia. Gorgani claimed a Sassanid origin for it, however it is now being regarded as a Parthian dynastic origin, probably the first century AD.

The Vis and Ramin story has had a noticeable influence on Persian literature. Significantly, Nezami, himself a major poet of Persian romantic traditions, took the bases of much of his rhetoric from Gorgani.

The romance also has had its influence beyond Persian culture. The story became very popular also in Georgia through a 12th-century free translation in prose known as Visramiani which proved to have a long-lasting effect on the Georgian literature. Being the oldest known manuscript of the work and better preserved than the original, it is of great importance for the history of the Persian text and helped restore several corrupted lines in the Persian manuscripts.

Some scholars have strongly suggested that Vis and Ramin may have influenced the Tristan and Iseult legend, and the two plots have distinct resemblances.

Thank God Dick Davis was up for the task and has masterfully translated the poem into an easy reading and wonderfully sweet book. Vis and Ramin has been largely ignored for far too long and has not been given its deserved recognition as probably one of the most influential books ever written that still remains largely unknown. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Prof. Davis for this fantastic revival.
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Format: Hardcover
Before Romeo and Juliet, before Paolo and Francesca, before Tristan and Isolde, Vis and Ramin sighed and suffered. This gorgeous poem, beautifully rendered in rhyming couplets by the poet Dick Davis, tells a story that is both familiar and completely foreign to the western reader. Vis falls in love with her husband's brother... there's a sly nurse who orchestrates secret trysts... But the greatest pleasure in this poem, beyond the thrill of discovering a precedent we didn't know existed, is the sheer glory of the language. I quote from a description of a battle, early in the poem: "And, elsewhere, sudden arrows entered eyes / Like sleep that takes a warrior by surprise; / Like love, spears pierced through hearts, and like good sense / Axes split open heads and arguments. / It seemed that swords found out exactly where / God placed the soul with such abundant care, / And where men's flesh was opened by the blade / The soul fled through the gaping wound it made."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently learned that I really like Persian poetry, and that Dick Davis was the most talented translator for Persian poetry in all the world, probably. Vis and Ramin is a romantic epic that was written in the 11th century, but could date hundreds of years before. You'd probably think *yawn, history* but you'd really be quite wrong. Vis and Ramin is nearly timeless and written in beautiful poetic form. There's very little of the story that won't make sense, except for a few Persian city names, mapped in the beginning of the book. You'll certainly find yourself wishing that more people were as emotional as Vis and Ramin were throughout the story. It's a breath of fresh air from the shallow "TWERKIN N DA CLUB" culture we're sadly polluted with. What struck me as strange was that this book is an undiscovered secret to English readers. As you can see by the limited amount of reviews here, the lack of any tweets, and the 150 fan Facebook page, we just haven't discovered Vis and Ramin yet. But maybe somebody will do us all a favor and convert the story into a movie (which I promise would do well).

I was so impressed by Vis and Ramin, I found myself bitter that my high school wasted time on crap like "the odyssey" which was both unpoetic and droned on with overtly literal translation that drowned the entire story of what could have been it's original elegance. Dick Davis painstakingly made sure to translate not only story and metaphors, but the very rhythm and aural eloquence of the story, which may not be the most literal translation, but one that's sure to transform English readers into huge fans of this beautiful niche of historical literature.
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Format: Hardcover
Translation isn't easy, especially from a language whose aesthetic is as far from that of English as is Persian's. Dick Davis has mastered the art of translating Persian epic into sprightly rhymed couplets. Davis' translation of Attar's "Conference of the Birds" is a classic, and "Vis and Ramin" is even better, a wonderful love story with vivid characters. You'll read it like a novel.

An extra treat is that this story comes from the time before all Persian love stories came to be mixed up with mysticism: it's just a deeply human love story.
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Format: Hardcover
After having read other tranlations by Dick Davis, I couldn't wait for this book to be published. This book once again astound me, both the story & the translation. Even though it has many pages, I carried it throughout my international trip & I couldn't put it down until I finished it. Thanks to the author, this beautiful story is now accessible to a much larger population & many can enjoy one of the best love stories. The only trajedy in the story, is that it ends... I wish there was a second and third volume to this book.
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