A study of the Persian poetry of Muḥammad Iqbāl (1877-1938), today Pakistan’s national poet, this work identifies the position his poems occupied between tradition and modernity, specifying the appeal they held for his contemporaries. Drawing on structural text analysis, the aesthetics of reception, and the semiotics of Umberto Eco, the study undertakes to demonstrate that the message in Payām-i Mashriq (Message from the East) and Zabūr-i ͑Ajam (Persian Psalms) is romantic. An adaptation of national romanticism, Iqbāl’s version may be called a pan-Islamic romanticism of power and so very distinct from a nature-inspired romanticism. The traditional forms utilized for the poems are revealed to be mere tools for rendering this message plausible. Employing traditional rhetorical devices to convey a thoroughly modern content, Iqbāl succeeded in establishing a bridge for the Muslims of India to connect into the discourses of pan-Islam and self-governance, thus motivating them to join India’s independence movement.
“In conclusion, (...) this study can be considered as an experimental attempt to let the ‘‘post-romantic’’ Persian writings of Iqbal speak primarily for themselves. The book, in other words, operates first of all as a committed reading-guide for a significant part of the Lahori poet’s literary production, and ideally (if not methodologically) finds its place among a well-established tradition of European studies on Iqbal represented especially by an older generation of orientalists (and ‘‘Iqbal-enthusiasts’’), such as the Italian Alessandro Bausani (strangely enough, not mentioned in the bibliography) and especially the above-mentioned German Annemarie Schimmel.”
Literatures in Context is a peer-reviewed book series devoted to Near Eastern and North African literatures. The editors want the title of the series to be understood programmatically. They presuppose a concept of world literature that includes Near Eastern and North African literatures. What is more, they assume that literatures are in many ways marked by intertextuality, that they constitute readings of extremely diverse earlier texts, and that they are posited within a field of tensions, much broader than their respective national language. For the earlier eras of Near Eastern and North African literatures, this field of tensions geographically covers the regions of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. In modern times, it has become a space of interaction that has long since included “global” Western literatures (and realities). This does not imply that the modern Near Eastern and North African literatures have severed themselves from their predecessors. Instead it is precisely the tension between different sets of references in modern Near Eastern and North African literatures, or their “local historical context”, which is a great part of their attraction, that remains a crucial field of research for the modern scholar.