Abolqasem Ferdowsi - This prodigious narrative tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of Creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the seventh century. The sweep and psychological depth of the Shahnameh is nothing less than magnificent

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Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, Trans. by Dick Davis,  Penguin Classics; Expanded ed., 2016.


The definitive translation by Dick Davis of the great national epic of Iran—now newly revised and expanded to be the most complete English-language edition 
Dick Davis—“our pre-eminent translator from the Persian” (The Washington Post)—has revised and expanded his acclaimed translation of Ferdowsi’s masterpiece, adding more than 100 pages of newly translated text. Davis’s elegant combination of prose and verse allows the poetry of the Shahnameh to sing its own tales directly, interspersed sparingly with clearly marked explanations to ease along modern readers. 
Originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan in the tenth century, the Shahnameh is among the greatest works of world literature. This prodigious narrative tells the story of pre-Islamic Persia, from the mythical creation of the world and the dawn of Persian civilization through the seventh-century Arab conquest. The stories of the Shahnameh are deeply embedded in Persian culture and beyond, as attested by their appearance in such works as The Kite Runner and the love poems of Rumi and Hafez. 
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


Dick Davis [is] our pre-eminent translator from the Persian...Thanks to Davis's magnificent translation, Ferdowsi and the Shahnameh live again in English -- Michael Dirda * Washington Post * Accessible...A poet himself, Davis brings to his translation a nuanced awareness of Ferdowsi's subtle rhythms and cadences. His "Shahnameh" is rendered in an exquisite blend of poetry and prose, with none of the antiquated flourishes that so often mar translations of epic poetry -- Reza Aslan (author of Zealot) * New York Times Books Review * Davis's wonderful translation will show Western readers why Ferdowsi's masterpiece is one of the most revered and most beloved classics in the Persian world. -- Khaled Hosseini


When Abolqasem Ferdowsi finished his epic poem, he wasn't shy in describing it. He ended the massive book, called the Shahnameh, with these words:
I've reached the end of this great history
And all the land will fill with talk of me
I shall not die, these seeds I've sown will save
My name and reputation from the grave
And men of sense and wisdom will proclaim
When I have gone, my praises and my fame.
Maybe he wasn't bragging, since his words came true. Iranians compare him to the Greek poet Homer. His statue gazes over the traffic in a Tehran square. The closing couplets of his great poem are chiseled into the walls of the classical tomb built to his memory in northeastern Iran. Most importantly, his book remains in many Iranian homes and hearts.
Ferdowsi mixed myth and history in the Shahnameh, known in English as the "Book of Kings." It's a chronicle of the rulers and warriors of the great Persian empire, which had come and gone long before the poet was born in 940 A.D.
It is also, however, a story of survival. Persia had been conquered, first by the Arabs who brought Islam, and later by barbarians from central Asia. Iranians say it was Ferdowsi, with a single great book, who preserved the Persian language, history and mythology from being erased.
It is a gloriously unwieldy book, suggesting a nation with so much history that one can hardly make sense of it. It differs from Homer's Iliad, which is sharply focused on a single great war, and even goes so far as to dispense with the preamble and join the battle already in progress.
The Shahnameh marches through centuries of history and myth.
Generations of kings live and die. Their greatest warriors fight, are betrayed and often rebel. Along the way, Ferdowsi records great battles and petty jealousies. He records cruelty and beauty in the same page. Find the acclaimed English translation by Dick Davis, open it at random, and you are as likely as not to find a sentence such as this: "When spring's new growth gave the plains the appearance of silk, the Turks prepared for battle."
Ferdowsi glorifies war and warriors, yet his characters rarely escape the consequences of their actions. The most famous story in the book is that of Rostam, a warrior whose bravery and skill surpass all others, and who defeats unbeatable foes, but who finds himself stuck for the night in an unfamiliar town after his horse is stolen. A woman admirer steals into his bedroom. Having conceived a son in the one-night stand, Rostam leaves in the morning, apparently without a second thought, only to encounter the youth many years later as an enemy on the field of battle. Rostam is soon in a fight to the death, unaware that he is battling his own offspring.
Late in the poem, which took him decades to write, the poet digresses from his story of kings and their courts to deliver breaking news from his own life:
Now that I'm more than sixty-five years old,
It would be wrong of me to hope for gold.
Better to heed my own advice, and grieve
That my dear son is dead. Why did he leave?
I should have gone; but no, the young man went
And left his lifeless father to lament.
A sense of loss pervades this book, written at a time when Persia's past greatness was only a memory. That may be part of the reason that Iranians cherish the Shahnameh: They relate to its sometimes melancholy beauty.
That is the explanation given by Said Laylaz, a Tehran journalist who keeps multiple copies in his home. "For a country like Iran, which had been the dominant power in the world for 1,000 years, more than 1,000 years, this is absolutely difficult to forget," he says.
Laylaz has not forgotten. He stands up from his couch, leads the way to a bookshelf, and plucks out a red-covered volume of the Shahnameh. It falls open to the story of Rostam, the great warrior who kills an enemy, not knowing it is his son. - Steve Inskeep 
https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100397309
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The Shahnameh, Book of Kings, is an epic composed by the Iranian poet Hakim Abul-Qasim Mansur (later known as Ferdowsi Tusi), and completed around 1010 CE.
[Ferdowsi means 'from paradise', and is derived from the name Ferdous (cf. Avestan pairi-daeza, later para-diz then par-des or par-dos, arabized to fer-dos). Tusi means 'from Tus'. In the poet's case, the name Ferdowsi Tusi became a name and a title: The Tusi Poet from Paradise.]
The epic chronicles the legends and histories of Iranian (Aryan) kings from primordial times to the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century CE, in three successive stages: the mythical, the heroic or legendary, and the historic.
Ferdowsi began the composition of the Shahnameh's approximately 100,000 lines as 50,000* couplets /distiches (bayts) each consisting of two hemistichs (misra), 62 stories and 990 chapters, a work several times the length of Homer's Iliad, in 977 CE, when eastern Iran was under Samanid rule. The Samanids had Tajik-Aryan affiliation and were sympathetic to preserving Aryan heritage.

[*Note: the number of couplets composed by Ferdowsi for the Shahnameh is stated as 60,000 in a number of sources. This is incorrect as some manuscripts have added verses.]
It took Ferdowsi thirty three years to complete his epic, by which time the rule of eastern Iran had passed to the Turkoman Ghaznavids (who based themselves in the north-eastern province of Khorasan with Ghazni as their capital).
The Shahnameh was written in classical Persian when the language was emerging from its Middle Persian Pahlavi roots, and at a time when Arabic was the favoured language of literature. As such, Ferdowsi is seen as a national Iranian hero who re-ignited pride in Iranian culture and literature, and who established the Persian language as a language of beauty and sophistication. Ferdowsi wrote: "the Persian language is revived by this work." read more here
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Ferdowsi Tousi, (935–1020) is considered to be one of the greatest Persian poets to have ever lived. Among the national heroes and literary greats of all time, Ferdowsi has a very special place. His life-long endeavour, dedication and   personal sacrifices to preserve the national identity, language and heritage of his homeland put him in great hardship during his lifetime, but won him fame and honour for one of the greatest poetic masterpieces of all time: the Shahnameh.
The Shahnameh  is an enormous poetic opus written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi around 1000AD, is the national epic of the Persian speaking world. The Shahnameh  tells the mythical and historical past of Iran from the creation of the world up until the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century.
read more here




other transaltion, trans. by Ahmad Sadri :
shahnameh


Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings is the illustrated edition of the classic work written over one thousand years ago by Abolqasem Ferdowsi, one of Persia’s greatest poets. This new prose translation of the national epic is illuminated with over 500 pages of illustrations and will be published in April 2013.
The lush and intricate illustrations in this edition have been created by award-winning graphic artist and filmmaker Hamid Rahmanian, incorporating images from the pictorial tradition of the Persianate world from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The new translation and adaptation by Ahmad Sadri, retells the mythological and epic stories of the original poem in prose format. This Shahnameh is an extraordinary literary and artistic accomplishment.
Published by The Quantuck Lane Press, distributed by W. W. Norton & Company




shahnameh book
shahnameh book
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Abolqasem Ferdowsi was born in Khorasan in a village near Tus in 940. His great epic, Shahnameh, was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan. Ferdowsi died around 1020 in poverty.

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