Literary history does not usually follow the smooth path of an evolutionary process. Some writers limit themselves to period pieces, and others write books whose latent significance becomes apparent decades later. Both creative development and the longevity of some authors, as in the case of Mohammad-`Ali Jamalzada (1895-1997) and Bozorg `Alavi (1904-1997), make categorization and periodization difficult. Nonetheless, the long period from the end of the 19th. century to the last decade of the 20th. century may be divided into three generations of writers-a framework which has been adopted here in order to clarify the patterns of change in themes and techniques of narration that have shaped the history of the Persian novel to the present time.
The Pioneers (1895-1941)
In the previous section, reference has already been made to some early experiments in fiction in Persia, notably in the genre of fictitious travelogues. Among the factors of crucial importance for the development of the novel were newspapers and the legacy of the early translations from European, mostly French, literature. Many eminent literary figures of the time, including `Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda (q.v.; 1880-1956), Mohammad-Taqhi Bahar (q.v.; I886-1951), Mohammad-`Ali Forughi (q.v.; 1877-1942), Mohammad Ghazvini (1877-1949), `Abbas Eqhbal Ashtiani (q.v.; 1896/97-1956), and Said Nafisi (1895-1976) were either themselves journalists and editors or contributed influential articles to current journals. Although, with the notable exception of Dehkhoda and Nafisi, they were not directly involved with fiction, they were instrumental in the development of Persian prose, illustrating through their work the fact that familiarity with other cultures and languages need not result in abstruse styles and dependence on foreign loan-words. One might say that Dehkhoda's Charand parand (q.v.). to a certain extent, "owed its success to the fact that it was intelligible to ordinary folk and at the same time entertaining to the intellectual elite and sophisticated men of letters" (Sa'idi Sirjani, p. 218).
The translations from European novels like Le Comte de Monte Cristo (tr. 1892) and Les trois Mousquetaires (tr. 1899) by Alexandre Dumas pere, and Mirza Habib Esfahani's (q.v.; d. 1315/1897) translation, or rather adaptation from the French (published posthumously in 1905), of James Morier s The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan were significant for two reasons. First, their descriptive techniques were sometimes emulated by Persian novelists, as a comparison between two passages in Les trois mousquetaires and Eshq o Saltanat ` (see below) demonstrates (Sepanlu, 1993, pp. 27-28). In the case of The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, the satirical portrait of the age was part and parcel of the narrative fiction of the turn of the century, and the first two decades of the twentieth, a period that could aptly be called the golden age of satire in poetical invectives, political ballads, and fictional and journalistic prose. Secondly, the very popularity of these imported novels indicated the emergence of a new reading public, mainly urban and middle class, with new tastes and preferences, and with time to allot to reading in the privacy of their homes (Gheissari, 1998, p. 51; Kamshad, 1966, pp. 2129: Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 1, p. 26).
The historical novel
The first genre of fictional prose to attract a significant readership in this period was the historical novel (Yusofi, pp. 185-233). MohammadBagher Mirza Khosravi (1850-1919), a minor Qajar prince of somewhat reduced circumstances, was the author of a trilogy: Shams o Tagra, Mari-e Venisi (The Venetian Maria), and Togrol o Homay, all three published in Kermansah in 1910. These three inter-linked historical love stories, sharing their eponymous characters, were set in the thirteenth century during the Mongol invasion of Persia, and were influenced by both French novels of adventure and by themes from classical Persian narrative poetry, particularly by Nizami's Khosrow o Shirin. The trilogy exemplifies many of the common traits of the historical novels of the period. The author attempts to entertain the reader by swashbuckling episodes reminiscent of Les trois mousquetaires without neglecting his pedagogical mission. Acting as a well-informed Cicerone, he takes his readers on a guided-tour of ancient sites and places and introduces them to famous figures from the past, including the poet Sa'di who plays an important role in the plot, and officiates at the (temporary) marriage of the hero and the heroine (Machalski, 1956, pp. 149-63; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 11, p. 240-45).
Shaikh Musa Nasri (b. 1882, d. ?), the director of Nosrat school in Hamadan, was another provincial writer of historical novels. 'Esq o Saltanat ya Fotuhat-e Kourosh-e kabir (Love and Kingship, or the Victories of Cyrus the Great) was the first part of his historical trilogy published in Hamadan in 1919, with a benefaction from the local magnate, Amir Nezam Gharagozlu, and later reprinted in Bombay (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, p. 252; Kamshad, p. 45). It claimed to be "the first novel (roman) composed in Persia in the Western fashion" (Browne, Lit. Hist. of Persia IV, p. 464) and based its plot directly on sections from Herodotus, French publications on the Achemenids, the Avesta, and Les trois mousquetaires (Sepanlu, 1992, p. 27). The same historical era was the period chosen by Hassn Badi' Nosrat-al-Wozara' (1872-1937) for his Dastan-e bastan ya Sargozasht-e Kourosh (An Ancient Story, or the Life of Cyrus, 1920). His plot focuses on the episode of Bijan o Manija (see BIJAN) from the Shah-nama. His attempt to make this plot historically plausible by also incorporating and citing Herodotus and European scholarship was not altogether successful (Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, pp. 254-55; Kamshad, p.46). `Abdoal-Hosayn San'atizada (1895-1973) was a prolific writer in many genres, including science-fiction, who began his long literary career as a historical novelist. His Damgostaran ya Enteghamkhahan-e Mazdak (The Ensnarers, or The Avengers of Mazdak) was published in two parts, the first in Bombay, 1339/1921-22 and the second in 1344/1925-26 in Tehran (Browne, Lit. Hist. of Persia IV, p. 466; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima II, pp. 255-58; Kamshad, 1966, pp. 47-50), although the date of composition and the contribution of others to the contents of the first volume remain a matter of debate (Adamiyat, 1967, pp. 55-56). Mention should also be made of Zayn-al-`Abedin Mo'tamen (b. 1914), whose Ashiana-ye `Oghab (The Eagle's Nest, 1939) was a popular historical novel of the late Reza Shah era. The book in ten volumes evolves around an adventurous love story in which historical figures such as Khaja Nezam-al-Molk and Hasan-e Sabbah appear as key characters. Hosayn Masrur (1888-1968) is yet another historical novelist of the period, whose most significant story, Dah Nafar Ghezelbash (The Ten Kizilbash), first appeared in installments from 1948 onwards in the newspaper Ettela'at (q.v.), and it was later published as a book in five volumes (1956).
Other writers of historical novels include Zabih Behruz (q.v., 1889-1971), author of Shah-e Iran o Banu-ye Arman (The Persian King and the Armenian Lady, 1927), who was famous for his satirical and facetious works and for his eccentric views on language and history; and Hosayn Roknzada Adamiyat (1899-1973), editor of the weekly paper Adamiyat (q.v.), whose Daliran-e Tangestani (The Heroes of Tangestan, 1931) was one of the few early novels directly concerned with contemporary history (Kamshad, 1966, pp. 41-51; Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima 11, pp. 238-58).
On the whole, these books convey a curious blend of nostalgia and factual information about the past glories of Persia, gleaned from historical chronicles and the scholarly research of contemporary Orientalists. Their naive attempt to achieve historical credibility, often ending instead in anachronisms, imbues them with the charm of primitive paintings. Some modern critics however, dismiss their authors as provincial die-hands and escapist dreamers, untouched by the realities of the day (`Abedini, 1987-98,1, pp. 28-33). Their romantic nationalism, expressed in the glorification of pre-Islamic Persia and denunciation of the Arab invasion, was in conformity with cultural currents which ultimately became not only pan of the official Pahlavi state propaganda, but also surfaced later in the works of writers seldom associated with conservatism, such as Sadeq Hedayat and Bozorg 'Alavi (Meskub, pp. 25-31).
The Social Novel
Although the advent of the Pahlavi era introduced a new and systematically vigilant form of state censorship which discouraged accurate depiction of contemporary historical episodes and personages in fiction, the dynamic drive for social protest survived and was channeled into other fields. Novels primarily describing social conditions, influenced by the literary naturalism of European novelists like Emile Zola, appeared in quick succession, with woman and city as their two major themes (Meskub, p. 90). The betrayed ideologies of the Constitutional movement (.Ajudani, 1997, p. 49; Karimi-Hakkak, 1995; `Ebadian, pp. 7598), were well represented in the versified drama Ide'al-e Pir-mard-e Dehghan (The old Peasant's Ideal Wish, 1924) by Mirzada 'Esghi (q.v,; 1894-1924) and generated a recurrent theme in the fiction of this period: a juxtaposition of the city and the village, the innocent peasant girl and her promiscuous urban counterpart. It marked the genesis of a problematic process by which the Persian woman of literature left the realm of fantasy to enter the real world. Although she now appeared in a seemingly more realistic manner, she was still, in the hands of her male creators, essentially a stereotyped victim of the sinister forces of modernity. In this period, "deep-rooted political, social, and religious traditions were either being obliterated or else sustained the shock of impact with modem Western institution and theories" (Kamshad, 1966, pp. 83-84); and in the novels, this uneasy coexistence produced diametrically opposed protagonists, conversing across an unbridgeable hiatus, unable to meet (Meskub, p. 170). Moreover, in spite of their propensity for long maudlin ruminations and "pious social postures" (Yarshater, 1988, p- 34) many of the novelists described below were in the business of increasing the circulation numbers of the journals in which their novels first appeared as installments by titillating the public with their coy eroticism.
The dark satanic city, the quintessential metaphor for the inexorable forces of modernity, lurks in the very title of Morteza Moshfegh Kazemi’s (1902-77) Tehran-e Makhuf (The Horrible Tehran), a somewhat rambling depiction of love, greed, and prostitution, which appeared in two volumes in 1922. It was succeeded by a series of works by 'Abbas Khalili (1891-1971), such as Ruzgar-e Siah (Black Days, 1924) and Entegham (Revenge, 1925), both describing the plight of women. Other popular titles of the time were Shahrnaz (1926), by Sayyed Yabya Dawlatabadi (q.v.; 1863-1939), better known for his memoirs of the Constitutional and post-Constitutional periods, and Man Ham Gerya Karda-am (1, Too, Have Wept, 1934), by Jahangir Jalili (1909-39). But perhaps the most significant and no doubt the most outspoken writer of the genre was the journalist Mohammad Mas’ud (1905-17) whose Tafrihat-e shab (Nocturnal Pleasures, 1933), Dar Talash-e Ma'ash (Straggling to Earn a Living, 1933), Ashraf-e Makhlughat (The Noblest of Creatures, 1934), and Golha-i ke dar Jahannam Miruyand (Flowers That Sprout in Hell, 1943), with their atmospheric griminess, "made a stir by openly exposing the frustrations of the educated classes and urban civil servants with a mixture of humor and tragedy" (Yarshater, 1988, p. 34). His outcries of pain and entertaining humor couched in a colorful colloquialism are reminiscent of Erich Maria Remarque's Im Westen Nichts Neues, which was translated into Persian in 1930 and whose style seems to have influenced Mas`ud (Khanlari, p. 153). Some of the above novelists had turbulent lives; Mas'ud was assassinated and Jalili committed suicide. They have left behind a mixed critical reception. Some modern critics ('Abedini, 1987-98, 1, pp. 44-45) regard their work as an improvement on the regressive romanticism of the writers of the historical novels but complain of the mixture of nihilism and sentimentality in their depiction of fallen women and feckless young men. Some others, however, highlight the despotic nature of Reza Shah's regime as the main contributing factor to the decline of Persian prose literature in this period (Kamshad, 1966. p, 63).
The novels of both Mohammed Hejazi (q.v.; 19001973) and `Ali Dashti (q.v.; 1896-1981), who either throughout or during a substantial part of their lives were pan of the ruling establishment, evolve around the character of their eponymous heroines with alluring names, some of which had by then become popular among the more secular urban middle classes of the time, like Homa (1927), Parichehr (1929), and Ziba (1931) by the former, and Fetna (1949), Jadu,(1952), by the latter. Although different in many ways, the two writers were similar in their descriptions of love and ambition among the middle and upper middle classes and both satisfied the needs of an audience which a few decades later would turn to television dramas (Kamshad, 1966, pp. 69-84).
In Ziba, generally regarded as his best novel, Hejazi succeeds in invoking the atmosphere of a whole decade in a complex but well-structured plot and exposes the prevalent moral corruption-the underlying cause for which he did not attribute to the ruling regime of the time-without exaggerated recourse to hectoring and preaching. Hejazi's prose is characterized by a smooth, mellifluous quality based on his apt choice of words tempered with echoes of classical lyric poets, Saadi and Hafez in particular. During Reza Shah's reign, Hejazi was easily the most popular Persian writer, especially attractive to young people whose romantic impulses drew them to Hejazi's stories and descriptions. The rapturous praise of Hejazi's style and sentiments by Mohammad-Taghi Bahar, the major poet of Persia since the bazgasht-e adabi (q.v.), reflects the appreciation accorded him before Persian intellectuals became polarized by the spread of communism among them and the advent of the Tudeh party. Hejazi, a politically conservative anti-Communist and Soviet-hater, was severely criticized (or ignored) by the leftist intellectuals, who called his work childish, sickly sweet, fit only for teenagers, and vacuous, a judgment that is not substantiated by either his popularity or his corpus.
Dashti's turbulent life and idiosyncratic works and translations, including a number of popular monographs on literary criticism, epitomize the inherent contradictions in modern Persian culture. His translation of Samuel Smiles' Self Help, the embodiment of so-called Victorian values and virtues, attracted a wide readership (Knorzer, p. 108), while his sardonic novellas with their galaxy of social-climbers with shady pasts, femmes fatales, and their duped and doomed idealistic victims, also enjoyed a wide circulation. The urge to instruct, an undercurrent in most Persian novels described so far, is also present here. But instead of factual details about the glories of pre-Islamic Persia as in the historical novels mentioned before, the reader is told how to set the table in an elegant modern way without appearing vulgar and nouveau riche (see Jadu, 4th printing, 1975, pp. 120-21). Dashti's style is immediately recognizable by his original choice of vocabulary, which draws when necessary from both Arabic and French terms, a result of his early training in religious sciences and his later familiarity with French. The urbanity of his style and motifs reflects to a certain extent his own inclination or predilection for the good life--good food, good reading, deep interest in the humanities; what might be characterized as the qualities of a bon vivante, an aspect of his life quite separate from his politics.
Newspapers and magazines continued to publish serialized romance and adventure-laden novels. Among the most prolific authors in this genre was Hosayngholi Mosta'an (1904-83), whose literary fame rested solely upon his sentimental, gushing, and adventure-laden love stories serialized in the press and enjoyed in particular by teenagers. He translated many stories and penned many more. His translation of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (1928-31) brought him immediate recognition and had a great impact on the style of writing of his contemporaries. Aafat, arguably his most popular serialized story, appeared in over three hundred installments (1951-56) in Tehran- e Mosavar, a popular weekly magazine. It is set in the World War I years in Tehran and revolves around the life, crimes, and love affairs of a Western educated Persian general. Javad Fazel (1915-61) published most of his over-sentimental love stories in Ettelaat-e haftagi. The titles of his stories, such as Eshgh o Ashk (Love and Tears, 1948), Man To-ra Dust Daaram (I Love You, 1962), and Be Yad-e Man Bash (Remember Me, 1963) hint at their mawkish contents. The noted journalist and writer Sadr-al-Din Elahi also wrote several serialized novels during this period and under different names in Tehran-e Mosavar. Serialized stories were published in a more or less continuous stream into the next years by many authors such as Majid Davami and Manuchehr Moti'i. After a brief interruption following the Revolution of 1978-79, such writing resumed with intensity and culminated in the works of many female writers.
Mohammad Ali Jamalzada, noted mainly for his short stories, published his first novel Dar al-Majanin (The Lunatic Asylum) in 1942. It is an intricate account of a set of characters detained in an asylum. They are not depicted as social types emblematic of different and contradictory forces in the Persian society of the time, as was the case in the author's earlier stories in Yak-i Bud Yak-i Nabud, but complex individuals hovering in the shifting sands between sanity and madness (Katouzian, 1998, pp, 4968; Farzana, pp. 38-46). His second novel, Gholtashan Divan (1946), on the primordial battle between good and evil, was followed by the publication of Rahaab-nama (The Story of the Aqueduct, 1948) and Sar o Tah-e Yak Karbas ya Esfahan-nama (1955; tr, W. L. Heston as Isfahan is Half the World: Memories of a Persian Boyhood, Princeton, 1983), a bildungsroman in two volumes. Critics (Kamshad, 1998, p, 112; Baraheni, 1969, p. 561) often make a distinction between the early works of Jamalzada which they praise for their novelty and clarity, and his later works, which they consider as overtly didactic and out of touch with the Persian society they endeavor to describe from a comfortable distance, but this view has recently been challenged by at least one critic (Katouzian, 1998, p, 50).
The early social novel, with its preoccupation with sensationalist plots and its lack of interest in stylistic innovations, was discarded by a new generation of writers who had begun to experiment with new techniques in the years before the advent of the Second World War. Sadeq Hedayt, acclaimed for both his short stories and novellas, was to have a lasting impact on the course of Persian fiction in this century. His writings cover many genres. Besides his short stories and articles on literature, his book on Omar Khayyam, folklore, and translations from French (Golbon, pp. 1953), he wrote five long stories: Alawiya Khanom (q.v.: 1933, tr. Ch. Reyhani into French as Mme. Alavieh, Paris, 1997); Buf e Kur (q.v.; 1937; tr. D. P. Costello as The Blind Owl, London, 1957; tr. R. Lescot into French as La chouette aveugle, Paris, 1953); Ab-e Zendagi (The Water of Life, 1944:. M.E. and F. Farzana as L'eau de jouvence, Paris, 1996), Haji Agha (1945, tr. G, M. Wiekens as Haji Agha: Portrait of an Iranian Confidence Man, Austin, Tex., 1979; tr. into French by G- Lazard as Hadji Agha Paris, 1996), and Fardaa (1946; tr. L. Ray as-- Tomorrow, "New Left Review 24, 1964, pp.91-99). as well as several satirical sketches. Widely differing in their representations of life and humanity, taken together they offer a kaleidoscopic view of the 1930s and 1940s. In. Haji Agha, a satirical depiction of an avaricious, hypocritical, corrupt, and reactionary businessman of the bazaar, for example, the unresolved discord between corrupt tradition and crude modernity rinds an ideal home at his house. The Haji himself embodies all the contradictions of the society at large, becoming the microcosmic symbol of its disparities (Manafzada. p, 57).
The same ubiquitous discordance is also heard in the fugue-like composition of Hedayat's short novel Buf e Kur (q.v.), whose narrative techniques resist prescriptive judgments and classifications- In its structure, Buf-e Kur falls into two parts. It is narrated in the first person singular by a traditional artist obsessively engaged in painting the slim figure of an ethereal woman, whose haunting image he paints on pen-boxes. In the second part she is transformed into the woman he marries, and whom he ultimately murders. Throughout the novel, scenes and events reflect and echo each other, time does not follow a linear progression and dream and reality remain intertwined. The very ambivalence of the novel gives it a haunting effect that remains with the reader long afterwards. It has been translated into many languages and has generated a considerable amount of literary criticism. It was praised highly by the founder of the surrealist movement Andre Breton (in "Des Capucines violettes”; 'Medium 8, June 1953). As perhaps the most seminal work of fiction in Persian it has been both the subject of several illuminating attempts at "close reading” and explication de texte by Persian and western critics (Yarshater.1971; idem, 1979: Hillmann, 1978; Farzana: Beard, 1990; A. Nafisi, 1992; Shamisa; Katouzian, 1994; Yavari, 1995b; Sattari), as well as the victim of some hasty generalizations. While drawing on sources and resonances of world literature, Buf-e Kur remains strikingly Persian (Beard, 1990, pp. 1-42; Hillmann, 1988, p. 296: Yarshater, 1988, p. 332; Sepanlu, 1989, p. 27). Its influence on Persian fiction can be felt in the writings of later generations of experimental writers like Hushang Golshiri, Taghi Modarresi, and Bahram Sadeghi.
Bozorg Alavi (1907-97) was influenced, like Hedayat, by modern psychological theories and narrative techniques. His collections of prison stories, Waraq Pareha-ye Zendan (1941; tr, in Raffat, pp. 11596) and Nameha (The Letters, 1952), as well as his account of his own arrest and life in prison, Panjah o Se Nafar (The Fifty-Three, 1942), distinguish him as the first Persian writer to describe prison life in an objectively realistic manner, thus making a new departure from the classical genre of prison literature (habsiyat). His influence can be detected on later writings of the same genre (Raffat, pp. 2-11). Unlike other influential contemporary writers who have a range of literary works, Alavi's fame rests on only a few compositions. His acclaimed novel, Chashmhayash (1952, tr. J. O'Kane as Her Eyes, Lanham, Md., 1989), in which ideology, psychoanalysis, and romanticism smoothly blend into a poetical language, is a coherently depicted love story of an artist, who is a key figure of the underground opposition in the last years of Reza Shah's reign, and an educated girl of aristocratic background. Chashmhayash caused a considerable stir and enjoyed a wide readership (Kamshad, 1966, p. 120). `Alavi's works were banned in Persia between 1953-1979. His long short story "Mirza" (1968, J. Wilks as "Mirza" in H. Moayyad, ed., Stories From Iran: A Chicago Anthology 1921-91, Chicago, 1991, pp. 6185) and the novel Salariha (1979), written in exile, were published in East Berlin, His later works, such as Muryanaha (Termites, 1993), which tells the story of the last years of the Pahlavi regime from the perspective of an agent of the secret police, SAVAK, are of considerably less literary merit. (Abedini, 1987-98,11, pp. 30-35).
The 1940s marked a rare and short-lived period of freedom of expression in Persia when political and literary activity, especially of a polemical nature, flourished. This period also witnessed gradual changes and shifts in literary and linguistic taste and preferences. English replaced French as the foreign language of choice- Writers from the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries became increasingly popular, The gradual shift from preoccupation with story line and content (as in Jamalzada) to formal sophistication and internal coherence (as in Hedayat) found its early representation in the later works of some of the novelists of this generation. While some writers, such as Rasul Parvizi (1919-77) and Jalal AI-e Ahmad (1923-69), preferred traditional narrative techniques and followed a more or less realistic style, a newly-emerged generation, including the likes of Gholam-Hosayn Gharib (b- 1923), author of Afsana-ye Sarban (The Legend of the Camel Driver, 1948), experimented with surrealism, which had already been introduced into Persian literature by Hedayat. The diversity of literary trends was well manifested in the First Congress of Iranian Writers, sponsored by the Perso-Soviet Society (Tehran, 1946), which, although preponderantly leftist in sympathy, allowed opposing views to he heard and produced a level of sophistication in its often vigorous debates which was not equaled for some years to come, It should be noted that a second wave of novelists, such as Behadin (Mahmud E'temadzadeh), Sadeq Chubak, Jalal Al-e Ahmad and Simin Daneshvar, started their literary career in this period, but their most important works appeared about or after 1953.
The Middle Generations (1953-1979)
This period falls between two momentous historical events with profound reverberations on the nation's psyche; the coup d'etat of 1953, which overthrew the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh, and the Revolution of 1978-79, ending the Pahlavi era. It was a period of tumultuous literary and cultural transformations. Works of form-conscious American novelists, such as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner, were translated into Persian and much admired- French writers, especially Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre, were also influential, particularly as both wrote on the relationship between politics, philosophy, and literature, although from differing stances. The first part of the period, 1953-1963, in which a new literary generation, whose political ideals had been betrayed, came of age, is generally remembered as a decade of disappointments and regrets. The aggressive social criticism of earlier years was replaced by self criticism and introvert romanticism. The period as a whole was marked by two dominant and conflicting literary trends: populism and modernism. Modernist writers, discarding the confines of social realism, prominent in populist oeuvres, strove to redefine the then current concepts of commitment in literature,
Sadeq Chubak (1916-98) selected his protagonists from the lower echelons of society and gave their mundane and uneventful lives a sense of grim dignity, He was the first writer of this generation to use the full potential of the dialogue as a narrative technique. Better known for his short stories, Chubak penned two novels, Tangsir (,1963; tr. F. R. C. Bagley and Marziya Sami'i as "One Man and His Gun" in Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology. Delmar, N. Y,1982, pp.13-181), and Sang-e Sabur (1966, tr- M. R. Ghanoonparvar as The Patient Stone, Costa Mesa, Calif, 1989). Tangsir, arguably Chubak's best work in his social realist phase, centers around the life of a Tangestani, a victim of injustice, who takes matters into his own hands, kills the oppressors, and becomes a regional hero, Tangsir was adapted into a successful screenplay directed by Amir Naderi in 1974. With Sang-e sabur, however, in which the techniques of stream of consciousness and interior monologue are skillfully deployed to delve into the inner thoughts of the characters, Chubak takes a more naturalistic stand to portray the disturbed mind of a religious serial killer, obsessed with murdering women he perceives as being morally corrupt (Baraheni, 1969, pp.696-741). Behazin (b. 1915), also noted for his fine translations of Western classics, wrote several collections of short stories, and a novel, Dokhtar-e ra'iyat (The Peasant's Daughter, 1951), which "presents the author's fantasy of the coming of social revolution and justice through the title character's (implausible) hopefulness and break from the serf class to enter the working class after years of oppression at the hands of the Gilani landlord class in the 1910s," (Hillmann, 1987, p, 79; cf. `Abedni, 1987-98, I, pp. 154-,55; Kamshad, 1966, p. 130).
Among the second generation of writers primarily concerned with social and political issues, Jalal Al-e Ahmad (q.v.) is a pivotal figure, deeply concerned with questions of social justice. economic transformation, intellectual and religious life, alienation, as well as cultural colonialism. He experimented with various types of narrative: polemical essays, travelogues. ethnographic reports, autobiography, as well as works of fiction (Dehbashi), pp. 21-22), In addition to short stories, he wrote three novels; Modir-e Madrasa (1958, tr, J. K. Newton as The School Principal, Minneapolis, 1974); Nun wa'l-Ghalam (1961, tr. M. Ghanoonparvar as By the Pen, Austin, Tex., 1988), and Nefirin-e Zamin (1966, The Curse of the Land). In all of them, as in most of Al-e Ahmad's works, the author is subsumed by the social critic. In Modir-e Madrasa, Al-e Ahmad, with his characteristically whimsical style, pours scorn on the absurdities of the curriculum and pedagogical methods of the existing educational system (which stands as a symbol for defects in society as a whole). Nefrin-e Zamin is Al-e Ahmad's lengthiest narrative, and contains a savage rebuttal of the government sponsored agrarian reforms to modernize traditional techniques of farming and irrigation. His dramatization of the circumstances of village life in Nefrin-e Zamin was later developed into a recurrent motif and appeared in the works of many novelists who succeeded him (Abedini, 1987-98, ll, pp, 111-64: Mirsadeghi, p. 632; Yarshater, 1984, pp. 53-55).
The publication of Ali-Mohammad Afghani's (b. 1925) monumental novel of social realism, over eight hundred pages long, entitled Showhar-e Ahu Kanom (Ahu Khanum's Husband, 1961) was an important literary event. One of its first reviews began by declaring that "without a doubt, the greatest Persian novel (roman) has been created," (Parham, p. 970). Although even this enthusiastic review contained several detailed criticisms of Afghani's uneven style, the book remains a classic of modern Persian fiction. Against a vivid panorama of a provincial town, the novel describes the life of a middle-aged baker who falls in love with an exciting young woman and takes her as his second wife. The triangular relationship, and the whole range of human passion, frailty, suffering, and even mischief that it generates, is described with much compassion and some psychological insight. The novel was later turned into a successful screenplay directed by Davud Mollapur in 1968. Afghani's later works, such as Shadkaman-e Darra -ye Qarasu (The Blissful Inhabitants of the Qarasu Valley, 1966), critical of local landowners; Dr. Baktas (1985); Hamsafarha (Travel Companions, 1988): and Mahkum be E'dam (On Death Row, 1991) did not become as popular as his first novel, and all suffer from an overindulgence in social and political commentary at the expense of plausibility and aesthetic considerations.
The works of Ebrahim Golestan (b. 1922) a modernist writer are interesting for their experiments in narrative techniques, sentence patterns, abandonment of linear plots, and cinematic delineation of scenes and episodes. Golestan made his literary debut with short stories, His only longer narrative, a satirical allegory; Asrar-e Ganj-e Darra-ye Jenni (The Secrets of the Treasure of the Haunted Valley, 1974) makes imaginative use of techniques of the cinema in its narrative. Its main character, a poor farmer who stumbles across a buried treasure in his field, "is a character in a twentieth century morality play. He is every Third Worlder who, because of an accident of history and geology, suddenly and without any The satirical content and its timing, appearing as it did during the years of the oil boom and mindless consumerism, was not lost to those who read the book and saw the film (directed by Golestan himself, 1974) before censorship caught up with it.
Taghi Modarresi's (1932-97) first novel Yakolya va Tanha i-e U (Yakolya and Her Loneliness, 1956) revolves around the forbidden love of Yakolya, the fictive daughter of an Old Testament king of Israel, for her father's shepherd. The love in which Yakolya takes refuge to escape her loneliness brings her banishment and wandering and intensifies her inescapable solitude. The biblical theme of the novel is couched in an appropriately poised and sober poetical language. It won the author instant fame, being chosen as the best book of the year by the influential literary journal Sokhan. His next book, Sharifjan, Sharifjan, published in 1965, fared less well. It dealt with the waning power of traditional landowners against increasing state control. Solitude and alienation, themes already prevalent in Yakolya va Tanha i-e U, were again dominant in his later novels, Ketab-e Adamha-ye Ghayeb (1989, translated by the author as The Book of Absent People, New York, 1986), Adaab-e Ziarat (1989, translated by the author as The Pilgrim's Rules of Etiquette, New York, 1989), and Azra-ye Khalvatneshin (The Virgin of Solitude, in progress), all written during his long sojourn in the United States. Those novels, penned in his self-imposed exile, "may represent a special category in which it is difficult to speak of an original and a translation: The Pilgrims Rules of Etiquette is not so much a translation of his Persian Adab-e Ziarat as a separate work emerging from the same creative process" (Beard, p. 448).
Bahram Sadeghi (1936-83), yet another modernist writer, is praised for both his several collection of short stories, some tinged with surrealistic humor, and his short novel Malakut (Heavenly Kingdom, 1961). Influenced by psychoanalytical theories both directly and through the influence of Hedayat, Malakut remains strikingly original. Sadeghi's characters, many of them failed government employees and frustrated intellectuals, are consumed by anxiety and terror, and at times even undergo Kafkaesque transmutations and mutilations. In Malakut, for example, the two protagonists -- the two sides of a coin -- confront each other like two scorpions engaged in a slow, measured dance of death (Abedini 1987-98, I, pp. 254-59; Sepanlu, 1992, pp. 115-17; San'ati).
In the second half of the period, Persian writers as a professional class, drew attention to their shared rights and responsibilities and formed in 1968 the Kanun-e Nevisondagan-e Iran (The Association of Iranian Writers), which took the lead in dealing with the problems of censorship and promoting the professional interests of the writers (Karimi-Hakkak, 1985). Meanwhile the number of writers proliferated. The palpable sense of loss and failure of the earlier years of the period, gave way to a positive drive to find the underlying causes of their present state and possible ways of its amelioration. Women novelists produced literary works of acclaimed quality. And the novel over took the short story as the most popular genre of creative fiction.
Contemporary history appeared as a major theme in the works of the second generation of historical novelists who, unlike those of the previous generation. searched the immediate past to highlight a plagued present. In Simin Daneshvar's (b. 1921) Savushun (1969, tr. M. Ghanoonparvar as Savushun: A Novel About Modern Iran, Washington, D.C., 1990: tr. R. Zand as A Persian Requiem, New York, 1991) the history of a family and that of Persia during the Second World War are woven together. The heroic stand taken by a southern family against British colonial intrigues ends in the murder of the husband, with the wife determined to carry on the struggle (Milani, 1992, p. 11). The first volume of Daneshvar's second socio-historical novel, Jazire-ye Sar gardani (The Island of Bewilderment), appeared in 1992, but failed to match the success of its predecessor.
The Mosaddegh era, the aftermath of the 1953 coup, and the Persia-Iraq War are the subject of Ahmad Mahmud's (b. 1931) historical trilogy; Hamsayeha (Neighbors, 1974), Dastan-e yak Shahr (The Tale of a City, 1991), and Zamin-e Sukhteh (Scorched Earth, 1982). Mostafa Rahimi (b. 1925) also portrays contemporaneous historical episodes in his Bayad Zendagi Kard (Life Must Go On, 1977).
The historical background of the popular comic novel by Iraj Pezeshkzad (b. 1927), Da'i jan Napel’eon (q.v., 1964, tr. D. Davis as My Uncle Napoleon, Washington, D. C., 1996) is also the post war years, a time of fundamental change in the social and political structure of the country. The novel and its subsequent serialization as a television show (by Naser Taghwa'i, 1975) were a huge success. The story revolves around the life of the narrator's uncle, a quixotic figure, sardonically and humorously named Da'i Jan Napel'eon, capable of seeing the conspiratorial hands of the British in the most unlikely places.
Jamal Mirsadeghi (b. 1933), author of several books on literary criticism and an advocate of realism and political activism, began his literary career by writing for the literary journal Sokhan. Primarily a short story writer, whose several collections of stories have shown his ability to capture the mood and sensibilities of the deprived and the downtrodden, and whose commitment to a left-of-center, liberal view of Persian events was so common among his contemporaries, Mirsadeqi has also produced an important novel, Baadha Khabar az Taghyir-e Fasl Midahand (The Winds Announce a Change of Season, 1984). It depicts the lives and development of a number of friends from low-income families and their vicissitudes in love, marriage, parental care, and above all in facing the abuses of an autocratic regime. Yarshater has called it a major novel of the period and a highly accomplished one in terms of its construction and economy (1986, p, 292), Among Mirsadeghi's other novels are Shab-Cherag (The Glittering Gem, 1976) and Atash az Atash (Fire from Fire, 1985).
The writings of Hushang Golshiri (b. 1937) are distinguished by their complex structure, vivid language, and subtle manipulations of narrative time. Shazdeh Ehtejab (1968, tr. M. R. Buffington as "Prince Ehtejab" in Hillmann, ed., 1976, pp. 250-303), Golshiri's highly acclaimed short novel, is a tortured journey of self-realization through the remembrance of things past. A collection of inherited clocks comes to life in the story and sounds the death knell for the prince as well as for the era of which he is the last bedraggled relic. Golshiri's skillful exploitation of stream of consciousness narration converts this story of outer actions into a drama of the life of the mind, Shazdeh Ehtejab was adapted into a successful screenplay directed by Bahman Farmanara (1974). In Kristin o Kid (1971), his second novel and another attempt to experiment with new narrative techniques of the nouveaux romans, the process of narration is treated as apart of the narrative- a technique he later developed and employed in some of his post-revolution works, including Ayinaha-ye dardaar (Mirrors With Doors, 1992), another journey of self-realization, undertaken this time by an intellectual novelist who travels to different European cities giving readings of the story he is writing (Kalantari, pp- 30-37; Okhowwat pp- 244-55). Here again his use of repetition of the same images and actions seen from different angles and perspectives, may imply a sisyphean attempt at capturing the totality of experience, the impossibility of which the writer himself is the first to admit (Abedini, 198798, II, p. 275). For him as for many post-modernist writers, the failure itself is a confirmation of the limitations of language and of illusions inherent in the process of writing. In the "Ma`sumeha" (The Innocents) series of stories, published in a collection entitled Namaaz-khana-ye kuchak-e man (My Little Prayer-Room, 1975), as well as in his longer work, Barra-ye Gomshoda-ye Ra'i (The Last Lamb of the Shepherd, 1977), Golshiri experimented with mythological themes and classical texts (A. Nafisi, 1986).
Hormoz Shahdadi is yet another writer who evokes the life of the time through the eyes of an intellectual, alienated from himself and filled with anxiety in his novel, Shab-e Howl (The Night of Terror, 1978), The narrative, characterized by its multi-layered .structure, benefits from Shahdadi's skillful use of extended interior monologues.
Esma'il Fasih (b. 1935) is distinguished among his contemporaries for his ability to interweave the history of a city and a nation, in the mid-decades of this century, with the history and development of a single family, whose members are the shared characters of most of his novels. Fasih's first novel, Sharab-e Kham (Immature Wine, 1966), a detective story, was followed by the publication of a series of novels, of which the most popular and outstanding is Del-kur (Blind-Hearted, 1970)- Most of Fasih's novels, however, have appeared after the Revolution of 1979.
The mismanagement of the economy during these years, manifested in rural exodus and urban shantytowns, provided the impetus for re-emergence of the village as a popular topos in the novels of the period. The village topos, as treated by the second generation of social novelists- however, did not resemble the idyllic pastorals of the Constitutional period as depicted by writers and poets such as Eshghi and Hejazi. Both the village and the city were now populated by anxiety-ridden characters.
Most of the work of Mahmud Dowlatabadi (b. 1940), including Owsena-ye Baba Sobhan (The Legend of Baba Sobhan, 1968), and Ja-ye Khali-e Saluch (The Empty Place of Saluch, 1979; German tr. by S. Lotfi as Der leere Platz van Solutsch, Zurich, 1991) transpire in the arid regions of northeastern Persia. Kelidar (published in 10 volumes, 1979-84), a monumental panorama of life in his native Khorasan, incorporates a variety of elements, rendering it into a well-substantiated documentary on the physical, social, and political features of the region and the abuses committed by landlords and government agents. Like Afghani's Showhar-e Ahu khanum, Kelidar won instant acclaim. It has been described by one critic as an "epic of decline" (Navvabpour, p. 433); Ehsan Yarshater called it "the greatest novel of the Persian language" (1987, pp. 1067). Using often poetic descriptions and a rich vocabulary of both regional and archaic words, Dowlatabadi's cadenced prose at times achieves the dignity and grandeur of an epic (ibid, Moayyad, 1988). His prose follows the epic technique of introducing heightened dramatic passages in the texture of the narrative to signal and describe its climactic moments (Yavari, 1989a). The first installment of Dowlatabadi's second multi-volume novel, Ruzgar-e Separi shoda-ye Mardoman-e Salkhorde (The Bygone Days of the Aged) was published in 1990.
Incessant rain and the mist-covered forests of the north are the settings of the novels by Akbar Radi (b. 1939), and Mahmud Tayyari (b. 1938), while the rural areas of the western part of the country are accurately portrayed in the fiction of `Ali-Ashraf Darvishian (b 1941), including his most recent novel Saal-e Abri (A Cloudy Year, 1993), in four volumes (Abedini, 198798, II, pp, 149-51).
The Post-Revolutionary Generation
The Revolution of 1979, which was at first regarded by many writers as a unifying cause creating the possibility of their vision's fulfillment (Karimi-Hakkak, 1991, p. 513), and in which most of them took a more or less active part, was followed by a short lull in literary production. But before long, fiction re-emerged as the dominant vehicle of literary expression, taking advantage of the brief period of relative freedom after the revolution and before the re-imposition of strict censorship following the fall of Mahdi Bazargan's cabinet in 1981. More novels and short stories were written in this period than ever before. The writings of the period have a wide range, extending from heavy revolutionary polemics and depictions of prison, torture, and displacement to much lighter genres including detective stories. The period was also marked by the introduction of magical realism, a narrative mode which appeared initially in some universally acclaimed Latin American novels. It relies on the simultaneous existence of two contradictory levels of reality, natural and supernatural, and exploits the often grotesque juxtaposition of the two with implied irony or even downright black humor was also a time of great productivity in translations, both from and into Persian. And finally it heralded the establishment of women writers as a powerful literary force with their own concerns and ideologically varied but distinct identities.
Persian post-revolutionary fiction writers fall into two categories: those who had already established themselves as writers before 1979, and those who started their literary career chiefly after the revolution. Some of the writers from both categories joined the ranks of the revolution in its very early stages. Others, however, either gradually turned against the revolution or attempted to steer clear of the ensuing debates. Some went abroad, and wrote novels and short stories colored by sentiments of exile and separation (see below iii). The very first post-revolutionary works of fiction were produced by the established writers of the previous period, including Fasih, Dowlatabadi, Golshiri, and Mirsadeghi. Fasih's first post-revolutionary novel, Soraya dar Eghma (1983, tr. by the author as Sorroya in a Coma, London, 1985). evolves around the chaotic life of the very first Persian exiles in Paris. His powers of storytelling are in evidence in his tragi-comic evocation of recurrent post-revolutionary situations, as for rexample in the account of a bus journey out of Persia and the often comical reactions of the various passengers to the prevailing border restrictions. His second novel Zemestan-e Shast o Dow (The Winter of '62, 1987), the first novel on Iran-Iraq war, and arguably Fasih's best novel after the revolution, returns to the displacement and sense of loss within the country through the eyes of one of the familiar protagonists of his novels, Jalal Arian (Yarshater, 1989). It recounts his journey to the war front with Iraq and his encounters with a panoply of characters of different classes and political convictions, all displaced, and all grappling with the death of loved ones or contemplating the possibility or their own death. Fasih's later novels, such as Nama be Donya (Letter to the World) published in Washington in 1995, also explore themes of war and displacement.
In the post-revolutionary novels of Reza Baraheni, also the author of several books and many articles on literary criticism, robust critical views, hitherto enshrouded in an allusive style, are expressed more openly. His short novel Az Chah be Chah (From One Well to Another, 1983) evolves around the repeated incarceration of a politically active intellectual in the late Pahlavi era. His other recent novels include Avaz-e Koshtegan (The Song of the Slain, 1985), Razha-ye Sarzamin-e Man (Mysteries of My Land, 1987), and Azada Kanom wa Nevisanda-ash (Azadeh Khanum and Her Writer, 1988).
Jawad Mojabi (b. 1939) and Ahmad Agha'i (b. 1936) are among other already established novelists from the previous period with strong political convictions. Mojabi's allegorical novels, such as Shahrbandan (Curfew, 1987), and Shab-e Malakh (The Night of the Locust, 1990), and Mumiaii (Mummified, 1993), in which a pre-Islamic Persian king follows his own coffin throughout the centuries to highlight the historical roots of the present ills, and Aqai's Cheragani dar Bad (Illuminations in the Wind, 1988) are all impregnated with the horrors of dictatorship (Wajdi).
Shahrnoush Parsipur (b. 1945), who had already published her Sag o Zemestan-e Boland (The Dog and the Long Winter, 1976) before the revolution, won instant fame with the publication of Tuba wa Ma`na-ye Shab (Tuba and the Meaning of the Night, 1988), The novel, generally regarded as one of the first magical realist novels in Persian, is a retelling of Persia's recent history in connection with various phases in the eponymous heroine's life. As Tuba lives her long life, along with an assorted cast of relatives and political figures, the country undergoes fundamental transformations in the time span between the Constitutional era and the Revolution of 1979 (Yavari 1989, pp. 13041). The psychological transformation of women appears as a recurring motif in Parsipur's other works, including her collection of short stories, Zanan Bedun-e Mardan (1989, tr. By K. Talattof and J. Sharlt as "Women Without Men" in Middle East Literature in Translation, Syracuse, 1998) and `Aghl-e Abi (Blue Intellect, San Jose, Calif,, 1994). The Persian original of Prrsipur’s Khaterat-e Zendan (Prison Memoirs, 1996) was published in Los Angeles.
A number of younger writers are distinguished by focusing on local scenes, customs, and folklore in their works. Moniru Ravanipur's (b. 1954) writing, in a language strongly colored by her local dialect and influenced by magical realism, centers with few exceptions around the local myths and legends which take place in Jofra, a remote village on the Persian Gulf (Rahimieh, pp. 61-75; Lewis and Yazdanfar, p. 50; Falaki). She has written several collections of short stories and two novels: Ahl-e Ghargh (The People of Drowning, 1989) and Del-e Fulad (Heart of Steel, 1990).
Asghar Elahi, Naser Mo'azzen, Nasim Khaksar, Mohammad-Reza Safdari, Bahram Heydari, and `Adnan Ghorayfi are also among the regional writers whose works are permeated by the atmosphere and colors of their locality, providing along the way a wealth of ethnographic information. Qoqnusha-ye `Asr-e Khakestar (The Phoenixes of the Age of Ash, 1992), by Hasan Shekari, and the writings of Teyfur Bathayi are among the very first fictional accounts of the perennial political turmoil in Kurdistan.
Mohsen Makhmalbaf (b. 1957), a prolific writer of plays and film scripts and a cinematographer, was an acclaimed figure among the group of young writers who identified themselves strongly with the Revolution of 1978-79. Besides his short stories and screen plays, he has written two novels, Hawz-e Soltun (Soltun's pool [a salt-marsh near Ghom], 1984) and Bagh-e Bolur (The Crystal Garden, 1986), in which most characters, although from different backgrounds, tend to speak and act solely in the vocabulary and discourse of the ruling religious ideology (Gheissari, 1994; Yavari, 1990, pp. 61-74.
Psychoanalytic concepts and theories, employed by many Persian novelists in various forms and degrees, found a distinct niche in post-revolutionary fiction. 'Abbas Ma`rufi (b. 1957), a journalist and a writer, has succeeded in constructing points of coincidence between aesthetic and psychic structures in his first and most advanced novel. Samfoni-e Mordagan (Symphony of the Dead, 1989; it. into German by A. Gharaman-Beck as Symphonie der Toten, Frankfurt, 1996). An innovative adaptation of the biblical and koranic story of Cain and Abel, the novel evolves around the life and eventual death of two brothers and their tyrannical martinet of a father, in a society undergoing fundamental transformations (Tehranchian). Ma'rufi utilizes the Freudian model of the encapsulated id and superego to create a decentered structure, and to narrate the story, simultaneously, from different points of view (Yavari, 1995a). The narrative techniques of the novel have been compared to those of some western novelists, most notably Faulkner (Mahvizani, I, pp. 11-17). Ma'rufi employs the same narrative techniques in his other novels, such as Sal-e Balva (The Year of Catastrophes. 1992), and, in particular. Peykar-e Farhad (1995; tr. into German by A. Gharaman-Beck as Die dunkle Seite, Frankfurt, 1998), in which the male narrator recounts the tragic history of Persian womanhood from the perspective of the female character in Hedayat's Buf-e Kur (q.v.). Ja`far Modarres Sadeqhi (b. 1954), translator, editor, and also one of the few writers in this period using pre-Islamic motifs and myths, is another author under the influence of psychoanalysis, who also attempted to experiment with narrative techniques of the nouveaux romans. Among his more significant novels, which share protagonists, are Gavkhuni (1983), Safar-e Kasra (Kasra's Journey, 1989), a love story heavily colored with ideology and politics, and especially Nakoja-abad (Nowhere Land, 1990), which tells the story of the protagonist's encounter with the deep layers of the nation's collective unconscious, visualized in archetypes and symbols from pre-Islamic times. The turbulent final years of the Qajar era appear as a leitmotif in the fiction of this period. Amir Hasan Cheheltan (b. 1956) examined the history of the Constitutional movement from a female perspective in his innovative work Talar-e’Aineh (The Hall of Mirrors, 1991), a novel in five sections which evolves around the life of two sisters and their politically active father (Mahvizani, II, pp. 58-61). Cheheltan's latest work of fiction is Mehr Giah (The Mandrake, 1998). Reza Jula'i (b. 1950) narrated the horrors of Persia's two disastrous wars with Russia in his inspiring novel, Shab-e Zolmani-e Yalda wa Hadis-e Dordkeshan (The Longest Night of the Year and the Tale of the Tippler, 1990; Mahvizani, Ii, pp. 73-75). Jula'i has penned two other novels, Su'-e Ghard be Zat-e Homayuni (An Attempt on His Majesty's Life, 1995), and Javdanagan (The Immortals, 1997). The same period furnishes the historical background to (Khana-ye Edrisi-ha (The House of the Edrisis, 1992) by Ghazala `Alizada (1948-1995). A novel in four sections, Kana-ye Edrisi-ha is based on the interplay of geometrical forms, the circle, the square, and the number four, with the story narrated from four different perspectives. All three novelists endeavor to write in a language appropriate to the historical era in which their novels are set, with varying degrees of success. Immediate contemporary history has also been treated by many novelists of the period. Special mention should be made of Simin Daneshvar's autobiographical novel, Jazira-ye Sargardani (The Island of Bewilderment, 1992), which depicts the heady days before the Revolution of 1979. By creating a cast of politically confused and failure bound characters, the novel takes a critical stand toward underpinning ideologies of the revolution, particularly those advocated by AI-e Ahmad and his followers (Yavari, 1998). In Shams Langerudi's Rejeh bar Khak-e Puk (Parade on Hollow Ground, 1994), the narrator delves into the past to reflect on the uneasy relationship between tradition and modernity. The novels of Fereshteh Sari (b. 1955)- Morvarid Khatun (1990), Jazira-ye Nili (The Cobalt Blue Island, 1991) and Aramgah-e 'Aseghan (The Lovers' Mausoleum, 1995)-- and Shiva Arastu'i's Oura ke Didam Ziba Shodam (I Became Beautiful When I saw Him, 1993) are among many works of fiction of the period produced by women novelists that have won their authors immediate recognition.
The second half of this period has witnessed a broad reception for works of fiction written primarily for entertainment purposes. These period pieces are mostly written by women. Notable among them is the immensely popular Bamdad-e Khomar (The Morning After, 1996) by Fattana Hajj Sayyed Jawadi (b. 1942), which has achieved enormous popularity and has been reprinted many times. It depicts the story of two lovers from different social classes and the ensuing tragic outcome of their misalliance. Like some early historical novels, it idealizes a vanishing gentry, but instead of castigating the emerging bourgeoisie as villains, it is the working and lower classes who are portrayed here as ruthlessly rapacious and self-centered (Karimi-Hakkak, 1997, pp, 447-70: Dastghayb. 1997, pp. 283-92; but see the appreciative critique by 'AIi Ferdowsi, which points to the significance of the novel's symbolism in reflecting the author's negative view of recent upheavals in Iran). Serialized detective or love stories, mostly written also by women, have attracted a much wider readership in the 1990s and are interesting both thematically and structurally in as much as they reflect the manner in which aesthetic and social phenomena generate and complement one another. Serialized stories by Fahima Rahimi and Nasrin Sameni, reprinted several times with runs exceeding ten thousand copies, are more meaningful as social events than literary ones (`Abedini, 1993). They are mostly stories involving happy endings to forbidden romances.