Alireza Zaker Isfahani
Literature as a part of the entire culture of a society reflects the political, social, economic & cultural status of the society; meanwhile it expresses desires, ideas in one hand and on the other hand shows the value system of the society. Literature expresses the ongoing status of the society and it’s a social institution screening the life.
Iranian modern literature begins from the constitution era and develops gradually .A bunch of different factors assist cultural upheavals of the constitution era. Commuting élites of the Iranian society such as travelers, tourists, merchants, diplomats, and college students to the western countries in one hand, and on the other coming westerners to Iran, establishing modern social, intellectual & cultural institutions such as DAROLFONOON School, translating books and continental treatises particularly in the field of philosophy, society & politics in the form of articles, novels and plays, importing press & printing machines & development of journalism and following them the necessitates of the revolutionary society to extend political, intellectual activities against kingship totalitarianism were the main factors of these upheavals.
Gradually the need to a colloquial and plain language for communication with the mass of people necessitated producing a kind of literature; poetry or prose, which led to metamorphosis of the Persian language. At this time the epistolary & formal language of the past which was very pompous and its applicability was for the élites couldn’t fulfill the daily needs therefore the realistic modern prose welcomed among mass people.
Modern literature elapsed different ages which can be divided these ages in some extent, though these divisions are very difficult and for some similarities are inaccurate the literature which was invented in the Eve of the Constitution Revolution had its own style even years after the minor despotism, then after the early years of the second decade of the 20th century coincident 1300 HIJRA enters a new stage which we can remiss called the borders of the two eras.
Meanwhile any of these eras has common factors which some of them were colorful or colorless in one era. These common factors include the Nationalism discourse and the advancement thought as modernization, liberalism, legalization fighting against autocracy, constitution, reformism, and nationalism which has sub-divisions such as the criticism of politics & society, opposition to the governing system, anti-religiosity, Zoroastrianism, pan Aryanism, and overcoming the inferiority feeling against the west. With this explanation which we can see the manifestation of this literature in literary prose, its major themes are political & social themes. This prose shows itself in mass media, newspapers.
And play translations, novels, short stories and diaries. In the early years of the Constitution Movement, art and culture and basically literature include protesting aspects, so the opposition element is available in the poetry and prose of the era. This finding lasts to the final years of QAJAR era.
In the years which the revolutionary worries of the constitution era quelled for different reasons and the dust of years of endeavor quenched as long as protesting activities decreased, the extent of those writings & publishing lessened. If the early political-social literature seem tense, explicit address and eloquent with subsiding the revolution and converting to the establishing of PAHLAVI government, those writings, whether in the style or content replaced by a mediocre literature, totally relevant to the western literature.
In this era literature modernization force the pace and surely appears in the other fields .However political & critical literature especially due to the kingship despotism fades, but are presented in the other forms. During these years ‘’L iterary Revolution ‘’ term appears, but this concept was not bare of fault. In the ’L literary Revolution’’ term, the aim of literature is literature and its transformation ‘’because literature was not the issue of the Constitution Revolution which we know it a part of the entire of the revolution as Mirza Taghi khan Raf’at knows it residue of the political & social revolution. But the topic of the Constitution Revolution was the above-mentioned factors. However the revolution itself was a topic in literature. Thus we call this period ‘’Revolutionary Literature’’, for an instance poem was depicted from the court and the tribunal court, and it was used to serve as a cultural device to combat against social cruelty. This age literary men by creating their new works moved toward the human and social goals of the revolution. Their modern works formed with the political & social approach. They were following social changes as the other revolutionary men. Therefore their poetry and prose was within the revolution and served for it. The literary revolution issue did not succeed till the creation of ‘’legend ‘’or AFSANEH’’ by NIMA YOSHIJ IN 1301 and was the sarcasm of some traditionalists and even modernists. IRAJ MIRZA one of the modernist poets said ironically;
Literary revolution fixed
Persian with Arabic mixed
Modernity and renovation started
Literature became a hotchpotch
These youth who are modernity followers?
Indeed they are the foe of learning and literature.
In the first PAHLAVI period the political literature gradually fades and shifts to social criticism, the critics of social decadence especially when the various activities and relations couldn’t fulfill the wishes of the Constitutionalists which shows itself in the other field such as social novels, the addressee of these novels are the medium or the well-to-do. Perhaps the formation of the approach was because some of the Constitutionalists end their duty by the crowning of PAHLAVI dynasty and intended to assist the government stick out of the constitution and had reform slogans and should help the social reforms of the governing system. Others deduce if organizing the major affairs is not possible, it is therefore improving the moral and social affairs which was the intention of many learned people even those of the ex-period. And more important the government censorship& suffocation atmosphere did not permit them to deal with politics but the prescribed subjects.
The suffocation of this period doesn’t provide a proper chance to create innovative literary works, especially poetry. From the day at this period which intellectual, scientific and operational actions are done by an imperative management, there’s no fortune to offer artistic works which have to be brought forth from the inner self, thus creation of literary works appears in the field the governing system permits. It is obvious that one of the causes that literati are willing to do literary research in the field of ancient Persia, moreover the available influencing discourse is the anxiety to enter the fields and works which may provoke the police department, therefore working on and the studying the neutral works which are even supported by the regime draw the literati attention.
The reformatory factors of this period influenced on the quality of social relations, the criticism of Iranian temperament, particularly the implicit criticism of the existing bureaucracy of the women’s status .The social and political concepts in this period mixed with a kind of morals and amendment. Though modernism and nationalism factor reaches to its zenith if it includes political, social and cultural dimensions. The reason for this matter is supporting of the governing system and atmosphere of the court literati. This period is the reviewing Iranian past glamour and grand, remembering the honors of the past which its primary steps were taken in the protesting era. In this age, moreover apogee for the theorists this ideals are applied, seeking for a savior, the necessity of being an apposite dictator and establishing a national government with a central governing system, national solidarity and the Iranian government with the same grand of the past are the agenda of the literary works .this period nationalism for its nostalgic specifications trends to romantic and past and also tied with the modernity thought constitute the structure of the period’s culture.
Within this period gradually by entering the west educated individuals in the literary and cultural affairs, a new approach started which led to modern literary works and constitution of modern cultural institutions. SADEGH HEDAYAT and BOZORG ALAVI influenced by the Marxist ideas were the avant-garde of this group.
Before surveying the cultural relations, art and literature status in the first PAHLAVI period, we should first point the literary & artistic heritage of the ex-era in brief.
Before the constitution the prose was pompous, epistolary, and governmental and formal which its roots were in tradition. Basically Persian literary prose was merely for specials i.e. commanders, ministers and the experts till Teymurians and even Safavid’s which had the above-mentioned specifications. From the 9th and initial of the10th century colloquial language lose its previous specifications and became popular and only from then the popularity of art and literature give animation to the mass culture.
QAJAR secretarial prose such as QA’EM MAGHAM FARAHANI and MAJDOL MOLK SYNAKI (the author of KASHFOL GHARAYEB ’’ (Bizarre Discovery) treatise or MAJDIEH treatise ‘prose were as the connection bridge putting aside the complexity of the past writings and entering simplicity and eloquence in the modern prose.
GHA’EM MAGHAM was modernist both in poetry and prose but he maintained the old basic principles. He presented new thoughts and delicacy in his works. Such an approach was the output of the final years of the13th century, the earlier years before the measures of Amir the Great the innovation sense were there in the QAJAR Royal Family (such as princes and the children of ABBAS MIRZA) that were acquainted with modern concepts.
But after Amir the Great, the old party with its old appearance, (long beard, hat, garment, sandals) and old style such as riming, counterpoise, plenty of Arabic and Persian synonyms, examples and deductions retrograded and replaced by new appearance (short beard, hair, garment, hat) and plain prose ,brief correspondence, French language, printed books & newspaper, photography, Nasta’ligh calligraphy and income & expenditure based on accounting book & instruction and soldier and DAROL FONOON SCHOOL, barracks and magazines got prominence.
However the Constitution Revolution and the afterward changes necessitate applying a new writing in the body of the culture. The writing could find its way among the common people and echo the voice of liberty against despotism.
As well as the social, political, economic and cultural structure of the Iranian society confronting the external factors and ideas, particularly those coming from Europe &the US got into tough crisis and profound upheavals, the language as the main link of the society has had the fundamental role in bringing up those crisis and changes and was influenced by them.
It was in this period that poetry gradually loses its high position and it was replaced by prose. Since modernism has its maximum influence first on prose than poetry. Since there is no aristocratic and royal expression under modernism wave then and the poets tried to speak with their addressee frankly and plainly by applying colloquial and slang concepts and expressions.
Although DEHKHODA applied slang and irony in Persian literature and after him DJAMALZADEH was introduced as the avant-garde in literary text criticism but before them modernists such as TALEBOGH, AKHUNDZADEH. ZEYNOLABEDIN MARAGHEI had paved the way for it. DJAMALZADEH in this field writes;
‘’Daily Iran is more behindhand in literature road than most countries. In the other lands gradually literature gets variety and by the ray of this variety the soul of the entire strata of the nation was grasped and any man or woman; wealthy or needy; an elementary school student or elderly people was encouraged to reading and made the advancement of the people but in our Iran generally going further than the old style was known as the deterioration of the literature and typically the political despotism essence which is famous in the world is seen in literature, too. It means that when an author picks up his pen to write, he just pays attention to the learned, elites or literati and doesn’t notice the other period and even doesn’t consider many individuals and literates who could read and realize simple and plain texts and as a brief he doesn’t get through literary democracy.’’