This book is the first extensive research on the role of poetry during the Iranian Revolution (1979) and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). How can poetry, especially peaceful medieval Sufi poems, be applied to exalt violence, to present death as martyrdom, and to process war traumas? Examining poetry by both Islamic revolutionary and established dissident poets, it demonstrates how poetry spurs people to action, even leading them to sacrifice their lives. The book's originality lies in fresh analyses of how themes such as martyrdom and violence, and mystical themes such as love and wine, are integrated in a vehemently political context, while showing how Shiite ritual such as the pilgrimage to Mecca clash with Saudi Wahhabi appreciations. A distinguishing quality of the book is its examination of how martyrdom was instilled in the minds of Iranians through poetry, employing Sufi themes, motifs and doctrines to justify death. Such inculcation proved effective in mobilising people to the front, ready to sacrifice their lives. As such, the book is a must for readers interested in Iranian culture and history, in Sufi poetry, in martyrdom and war poetry. Those involved with Middle Eastern Studies, Iranian Studies, Literary Studies, Political Philosophy and Religious Studies will benefit from this book.
"From his own memories and expert research, the author gives us a ravishing account of 'a poetry stained with blood, violence and death'. His brilliantly layered analysis of modern Persian poetry shows how it integrates political and religious ideology and motivational propaganda with age-old mystical themes for the most traumatic of times for Iran." (Alan Williams, Research Professor of Iranian Studies, University of Manchester)
"When Asghar Seyed Gohrab, a highly prolific academician, publishes a new book, you can be certain he has paid attention to an exciting and largely unexplored subject. Martyrdom, Mysticism and Dissent: The Poetry of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) is no exception in the sense that he combines a few different cultural, religious, mystic, and political aspects of Iranian life to present a vivid picture and thorough analysis of the development and effect of what became known as the revolutionary poetry of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This time, he has even enriched his narrative by inserting his voice into his analysis. It is a thoughtful book and a fantastic read." (Professor Kamran Talattof, University of Arizona)