Reviews

In the lineage of a series of poetical repertories (tadhkira, pl. tadhakir) published these last years in the city of Khujand (see notably the works by the local erudite Ergashali Shodiev), the author proposes a succession of biographical notices on classical Persian poets originating from this city and its region, west of the Fergana Valley, from the origins to the end of the Soviet period.  The lack of an intelligible classification makes it difficult to skim trough.  The only special chapter is devoted to nineteenth-century “rhetor ladies (banuwan-i sukhan-guy)”.  As often in the recent expressions of this classical genre, the notices have a traditional profile:  Short paragraphs on the life of each poet are followed by samples of his/her work.  Based on a number of manuscript albums preserved in the Institute of Oriental Studies and of the Manuscript Heritage of Tajikistan in Dushanbe, and on several diwans published in the course of the past decade (among which one can find two successive Iranian editions of the Diwan of Kamal Khujandi), the work has also been nourished by numerous works by modern and contemporary scholars—those by Ergashali Shodiev in particular, or by Amirbek Habibzoda, as well as ‘Ayni’s Namuna (1926), works by local divines like the former mufti of the Soghd Region H. Musazada on the fourteenth-century mystic Shaykh Maslahat al-Din (the city of Khujand’s tutelary saint), or still Sabbagh’s recent anthology (Armaghan-i Sabbagh) on modern émigré Tajik literati of the Arabic peninsula.  The result is an interesting and relatively original collection, thanks notably to the unusual room given to female authors, and to émigré writers (active in Iran or in Hindustan in pre-modern times, in Afghanistan or in the Arabic Near-East in the twentieth century).  Such innovations bear testimony of the current relative renewal—or revival, through a re-valuation of tradition—that can be observed in the literary history of Persian-speaking Central Asia.  Still, in spite of the development of exchanges with the Near- and the Middle-East, one can deplore the fact that the author could not have access to innumerable manuscripts preserved outside Tajikistan, for instance in Tashkent, Moscow and St Petersburg, to say nothing of Western public collections—a limitation quite characteristic of the state of erudition and research in former Soviet Central Asia.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-6.2.B-542