The Persian Whitman

Beyond a Literary Reception

Author: Behnam M. Fomeshi

About this book

Walt Whitman, a world poet and the father of American free verse, has been read by diverse audiences from around the world. Literary and cultural scholars have studied Whitman’s interaction with social, political and literary movements of different countries. Despite his continuing presence in Iran, Whitman’s reception in this country has remained unexplored. Additionally, Iranian reception of Western literature is a field still in its infancy and under-researched, particularly due to contemporary political circumstances.

The Persian Whitman examines Whitman’s heretofore unexplored reception in Iran. It is primarily involved with the “Persian Whitman,” a new phenomenon born in diachronic and synchronic dialogue between the Persian culture and an American poet.

Specialising in comparative literature, Behnam M. Fomeshi is interested in Iranian studies, American studies and in particular the intersection of the two. In addition to a Humboldt fellowship, he has received several grants including two for research at the University of St Andrews and Leiden University.

Format: Paperback

Pages: 256

ISBN Print: 9789087283353

Published: 15 November 2019

Language: English


  • Elham Shayegh, Polish Journal for American Studies

    “The author knows Persian literature exceptionally well ... I highly recommend the reading of The Persian Whitman, for it is a unique contribution to Persian studies and reception scholarship.”

  • Parvin Loloi, independent scholar

    "The Persian Whitman is a very impressive study of the American poet’s reception, and influence on modern Iranian literature and culture. It is methodologically innovative in theoretical sense but particularly strong in its empirical perspective."

  • Natalia Chalisova, professor in Persian Literature at the Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow

    "Based on solid research, this well-written and thought-provoking book is sure to attract the readers’ attention and inspire follow-up research."

  • Zadmehr Torabi, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

    “Iranian reception of Western literature is an under-researched field, particularly due to contemporary political circumstances. The Persian Whitman is a timely contribution to the field; it offers a groundbreaking study of the reception of an American poet in Iran from 1922 when a one-page translation of Walt Whitman appeared in the literary journal Bahar. (…) Replete with thought-provoking details, The Persian Whitman goes beyond a literary reception; it provides the reader with a history of modern Iran and Iranian modernity. (…) An interdisciplinary study, The Persian Whitman will move the field of Iranian comparative literature forwards and will facilitate further conversations among scholars of modern Persian literature, translation studies and Iranian modernity.”

  • Roger Sedarat, Iranian Studies

    "Were he still alive, perhaps no reader would more greatly praise this academic study on the reception in Iran of America’s most seminal nineteenth century poet than Walt Whitman himself. (…) this book will appeal to those in the fields of both American and Persian studies along with translation studies, transnational (Iranian-American) literature, cultural criticism, political science, and more."

  • Mostafa Abedinifard, FIAR: Forum for Inter-American Research

    “ ... Fomeshi’s monograph offers an excellent model of historically contextualized readings of texts –readings of which one desires to see more particularly in Iranian/Persian literary studies.”

  • Claudia Yaghoobi, Amerikastudien/American Studies

    “... Fomeshi desires to bring Whitman out of the provincial context and expose his globalized version to the readers who are unfamiliar with “the variety of ways that Whitman has been construed for the purposes and needs of other cultures,” in this case Persian culture (5). This in turn aids in “not only the globalization of American Studies but also to a better understanding of Iranian culture” (5). This is what Fomeshi promises to do in his introduction and achieves effectively throughout the book.”

  • Amirhossein Vafa, International Journal of Middle East Studies

    “The historical and theoretical foundations of The Persian Whitman portend a paradigm shift in the comparative studies of American and Persian literatures.”

  • Isabel Díaz Sánchez, 1616: Anuario de Literatura Comparada

    “This monograph is fundamental and necessary for the study of Whitman’s reception in Iran. Fomeshi shows an impressive knowledge of Comparative Studies.”

  • Olympia Antoniadou, COMPARISON/COMPARAISON

    "Characterized by authentic academic arguments based on an impeccable methodology, The Persian Whitman certainly has to be translated into other languages."

  • Samaneh Farhadi, Babel

    “Through meticulous browsing of Whitman’s renderings and, at the same time, vigilant to both epitext and peritext of these translations, Fomeshi elucidates the diverse functions Persian translators and translations of Whitman have fulfilled over what has come to be called modern Iranian history. [...] The Persian Whitman is an exciting step forward in the dialog between the twins, translation studies and comparative literature.”

  • Philip Gerard, Colloquium Helveticum

    "Fomeshi’s text moves deftly between the close reading of poems, the biographies of poets, the summary of political events, as well as discussions of various peritexts (book covers, prefaces, tables of contents) and epitexts (reviews, interviews, images).
    Indeed, Fomeshi’s discussion ... reveals how poetry’s much-debated “untranslatability” is far more complex a phenomenon than formalists would have us believe. In the Persian context, untranslatability is at once historically situated and ethically and politically implicated, forcing us to consider not only what can be translated but also what may or ought to be translated."

  • Julie Duvigneau, Abstracta Iranica

    "... une approche qui permet de sortir de l’analyse des « influences », réciproques ou non, de certaines littératures (souvent teintées d’un vernis de supériorité) sur d’autres (placées dans une position inférieure) ... Cet ouvrage de Behnam Fomeshi dépasse largement l’étude de la réception d’un poète américain dans un pays étranger, l’Iran, ce qui en ferait déjà un ouvrage rare."

  • Francis Tremblay, CompLit: Journal of European Literature, Arts and Society

    "In brief, it is an exercise in reception studies. But one that takes good care in tracing back the history – material, political as well as literary – of such a cultural transfer where both ends mutually change throughout the process. One that elevates what seems at first to be nothing more than a “case study” of literary reception, i.e. the reception of Whitman in Persia/Iran ... to a comparative multi-discursive comprehension of a Whitman that is not the poet we had known from traditional American studies, but indeed the “Persian Whitman”. The book’s main highlight, according to its “New Historicist” approach, is the (re)construction or (re)creation process at work in cultural transfers, through an interaction of discourses."

  • Mostafa Hosseini, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

    "The Persian Whitman is a methodologically innovative, original, and well-documented interdisciplinary study ... Behnam Fomeshi, a well-versed comparatist, deftly performs these two comparativist acts—collection and interpretation of the translations of the works of a certain author in a certain period—in The Persian Whitman."

  • Matt Cohen, Resources for American Literary Study

    "The Persian Whitman is an informative, readable, and thought-provoking book."

Be the first to hear about the latest news and publications of LUP.

Subscribe to our newsletter >>

Be the first to hear about the latest news and publications of LUP.

Subscribe to our newsletter >>