Reviews

In the wake of a rich Tajikistani tradition illustrated till recently by the late lamented Amirbek Habibov, the present anthology of Persian verse of Transoxiana, from the early tenth to the early twentieth century (namely, from Rudaki to ‘Ayni), offers short biographical notices and Cyrillic transcriptions of works by some sixty poets, known and unknown, living and writing north of the Amu Darya River. This restrictive geographical criterion, if it corresponds with the modern boundaries of present-day Tajikistan, is devoid of a historical significance; it is the explanation for the selection of Daqiqi and the elimination of his more famous continuator Firdawsi. This choice has also brought the compiler to give a much larger room to authors from the fifteenth century onwards ― i.e., after Transoxiana’s relative self-isolation from Safavid Iran. Another specificity of the present compilation, especially if compared with its predecessors of the Soviet period, is the wide selection of texts of openly gnostic and explicitly Sufi content. The absence of a critical apparatus is to be deplored — the origin of the texts published in the present work remaining non-identified.

Besides, as usually in history of literature as it is written in Tajikistan insistence in put in the compiler’s introduction on the role of Persian-speaking dynasties, beginning indeed with the Samanids, in the first expansion of Persian verse in Central Asia, whence reigning houses with a more decisive role, but of Turkic origin — the Ghaznawids, in particular — are purely and simply forgotten. Among the factors of the differentiation of Persian poetry from the sixteenth century onwards in, respectively, Iran and Central Asia, the compiler classically evokes the role of the Safavid takeover and the concomitant opening by the European powers of the maritime road to India. The last paragraphs of the historical introduction are interestingly devoted to the development of a Tajikistani tradition of anthology writing — departing from ‘Ayni’s Namuna in 1926 — and of modern historiography of Tajik literature (Mirzozoda, Hodizoda, Sa‘diev. . .); the aim of both was and remains the défense et illustration of a specific Persian tradition, opposed to predominant modern Turkic literatures, but also to Persian literatures of Iran and Afghanistan (though neither the replacement of qasida by ghazal from the fifteenth century onwards, nor the growing significance of mukhammas, nor even the predominance of the sabk-i hindi from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century can be considered phenomena specific to Transoxiana).

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-5.2.B-449