Reviews

This luxuriously edited and easily manageable encyclopaedia appears as the main one-volume reference work on Persian literature as it developed from the tenth century CE to the present north of the Amu-Darya River.  The result of a cooperation between mainly Iranian and Tajikistani scholars, it contains notices of varying dimension on authors (numerous biographical articles) and their works, as well as on production places, genres and themes.  (In the spirit of traditional erudition, captivating notices on the cities of Transoxiana mingle the data of pre-modern historiography, of sacred history and hagiography, and of recent archaeological and historical research.)  For the first time since the publication of the three-volume “Encyclopaedia of Tajik art and Literature” from 1988 to 2004 (see the review of Volume 3 in supra 110), this work provides a continuous repertory of Persian literature in Central Asia, including the Soviet and current periods.  The latter however continues to suffer from a still superficial knowledge and from an over-scrupulous edition policy:  One has apparently wanted not to bother anybody.  Written by Tajikistani specialists, the mainly biographic notices on authors of the second half of the twentieth century are often limited to the enumeration of titles, with no analysis nor even a description of their content; besides, some intruders seem to have been eliminated in a concerted way (like Sayf Rahimzad, a writer, film-maker and television author from Kulab, assassinated in 2001 in still non-elucidated circumstances).  One may also deplore the poverty of bibliographies consisting only in books, with references to the main classical texts and modern monographic studies.  Oral traditions are paradoxically absent from this work in spite of their substantial role in the transmission of adab (the norms of sociability conveyed by didactical literature) as far as Central Asia is concerned.  These reservations notwithstanding, the editor and publisher must still be congratulated for the overall quality of the presentation of this volume, an irreplaceable tool for anybody interested in the destinies of Persian literature in Central Asia from the origins to the present.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-6.2.B-522