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By E.G. Browne

Browne's well-known paintings, first released in 1902, used to be the basic textual content on literary heritage in Persian stories for a few years. As an outline of Persian literature from the earliest instances till Firdawsi, it is still a necessary reference. Out of print for a while, it's now reissued as a library version, in facsimile to catch the texture of the unique variation.

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Sample text

Can I forget how, as it neared its end, A happy chance permitted me to blend Rare intervals of worship ill-concealed, Occasions brief of love but half revealed, Long days of hope deferred, short hours of bliss, Into a happiness so full as this? Now come I, Dearest, for my book to claim Even so great an honour as thy name! Preface Volume 1 THE present volume is a continuation of that which I published in the same series four years ago, and carries the Literary History of Persia on from the beginning of the eleventh to the middle of the thirteenth century of our era.

Characteristics of early Persian poetry, as regards form and style. In my previous volume on the literary history of Persia, published in 1902, I gave (pp. 452–471) specimens of the verses of some seventeen Persian poets of the oldest or pre-Ghaznawí period, an amount sufficient, in my opinion, to entitle us to characterise in general terms this earliest verse. D. 1060, and rendered accessible to students in Dr. Paul Horn’s excellent edition. What is preserved to us consists chiefly of short fragments (muqaṭṭa‘át), quatrains (rubá‘iyyát), and a few odes (ghazals), besides which we know that narrative mathnawí poems also existed, as well as qaṣídas (“purpose-poems,” generally panegyrics).

And so I commend my book to the benevolent reader, and, I hope I may add, to the not less benevolent critic. Of its many defects, alike in plan and execution, I am fully conscious, and to others, no doubt, my attention will soon be called. But “whoso desireth a faultless friend remains friendless,” says a well-known Eastern adage, and it is no less true that he who would write a flawless book writes nothing. I have admitted that I felt myself unprepared for so great a task; but I should have felt equally unprepared ten or twenty years hence, the subject ever widening before our eyes more rapidly than the knowledge of it grows in our minds.

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