Compare Shahnameh and Turkish Literature Effects of the Shahnameh in the Turkish and Ottoman Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2367 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Turkish Literature

Compare Shahnameh with Turkish Literature and Classical Ottoman Poetry

The Shahnmeh, which was written by Ferdowsi in the late tenth century and early eleventh century, is probably the most famous literary work ever written in that region. This is perhaps surprising since the poem was completed over one millenium ago. The fact that the poem took so long to write reflects just how enormous the book is, and gives some idea of why the book is still so well-known to this day. The Shahnameh was actually written before the invention of the novel as a literary form, and so even though it is quite long, it is an epic poem. Its epic poem form makes it similar to the Iliad or the Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer, although the Shahnameh is actually even longer than either the Iliad or the Odyssey.

The extremely long length and wide scope of the Shahnameh are such that the epic poem has influenced other related literary traditions, including Turkish literature, Persian literature, and classical Ottoman poetry. In fact, it has even been argued that the book has influenced every form of Persian literature in one form or another, either directly or indirectly (Gay). Because the Shahnameh was written so long ago, studying it is also valuable because it allows one to be able to trace how it has impacted the literary traditions and famous books that have been written in the years since it was written. This paper examines the ways in which the Shahnameh impacted Turkish literature, as well as the classical Ottoman poetic tradition. I also pay close attention to the effects of Persian literature as a whole on Turkish literature and Ottoman literature. The main themes that are addressed in This paper are the impact of the written vs. The spoken word, and the types of characters who Ferdowsi includes in the Shahnameh and how they relate to literary traditions.

The Shahmenah stands out within the tradition of Iranian, Turkish, and Ottoman literature mostly because it is so long. The scope of the book is also much bigger than almost any other book ever written, and one of the reasons why this is so notable is that it is believed that Ferdowsi was the only author who wrote it. In order to discuss and identify the influence that the book has had on the Turkish and Ottoman literary traditions, it is necessary to first take the time to identify the main themes involved in the famous epic poem.

First, the book is nonfictional. In writing the book, Ferdowsi did not want to create anything fictional and instead wanted to create a monument to his people. He also did not want to write a book that was written in a voice that people could not relate to or understand, and Ferdowsi was very deliberate in writing in a style that would be accessible to wide segments of the population. The size of the book reflects the way in which he wanted to make a lasting impression on the people, but there were also strategies that he took to influence the literary tradition that was to develop in the country.

One of the major strategies that Ferdowsi took on when writing his project was historical accuracy. Because the book was written so long ago, it is perhaps easy to forget that Ferdowsi himself had to conduct research into the history of Turkey while writing his book. The quest to find historical facts is especially impressive when one remembers that there were no scientific resources available to him at the time period in which he wrote the epic poem. For example, the printing press would not be invented for another 400 years, and people had not yet begun to write their stories down for others to be able to read. In order to acquire his material, Ferdowsi was forced into relying on the spoken word and the vast oral tradition of his area in order to capture the history of his geographic region.

The fact that Ferdowsi relied on the oral history of the region is significant in that it reflects the fact that Ferdowsi changed the way that stories were communicated and processed. In particular, he took information that had existed almost exclusively in oral form and transformed it into written form. Also, Ferdowsi allowed for people to reach an understanding of the history of Iran, from the creation of the world until the seventh century and the addition of Persia. There is some disagreement about whether Ferdowsi was actually able to get the oral testimonies that people had long felt that he received, and in actuality, he may have made up many of the oral testimonies (Doostkhah). Another issue that has been raised by scholars in recent years concerns which aspects of the text were made up and which actually happened. In his introduction to one of the editions of the Shehmaneh, Dick Davis notes:

"A major cause of some of the tales' ambiguities seems clear: Ferdowsi had much fuller sources for many of the quasi-historical narratives than he had for the legendary material, and some of these sources seem to have been quite radically contradictory to one another." (9)

Davis raises an important issue involving the credibility of a book that seems to contradict itself at many sections, and whether he took it upon himself to simply make up large portions of the story. However, the oral tradition in the land that is now Iran was very vibrant and one can assume that while Ferdowsi may have made up some parts of the epic poem, a great deal of research was involved. Many aspects of the book are also fantastical and could not be true, even if they were believed at the time. It is therefore important to avoid reading the Shahnameh as though every aspect of it were true.

Ferdowsi did not want to write in a linguistic style that people would not be able to understand, but he did take some deliberate measures with regard to the language that was used. In particular, he wrote the book in the Persian language, and avoided using any Arabic words. It was very important that he decided not to incorporate any Arabic words since the decision has had a strong impact on Persian literature and even the Persian language to this day. Even today, the Persian language has not changed and Persian literature still avoids including Arabic words. By including only Persian words, Ferdowsi raised nationalistic spirit and helped people acquire a sense of pride in their land.

Turkish literature has been influenced to a great extent by the Shahnameh. Ferdowsi's decision to write the book exclusively in Persian was an especially large influence on the Turkish literary tradition that followed. Ferdowsi also was influential through his decision to actually use written language. Before Ferdowsi wrote the Shahnameh, Turkish Literature was almost exclusively oral. The oral literary tradition was highly cherished by the Turkish people and is believed to have dated back to the eighth century, but there are major advantages to the written word over the spoken word, and Ferdowsi must be credited with this development.

The main advantage of the written word is that it is fixed in time and has a more original and individual point-of-view behind it. Oral stories are enjoyable and bring people together, but they are dynamic rather than static. If a person writes a story down using writing, they can be certain that their words will not be altered no matter how many years have passed. Even though people might translate the work into other languages, the focus is on copying the words rather than revising them. The dynamics of the oral literary tradition are incredibly different. When a person tells another person a story through the spoken word, they understand that the story will not be received by people in later generations with the same exact words. Instead, the person they tell the story to has the freedom to change the meaning and revise the tale in whichever way he desires. In this regard, by putting his story into writing Ferdowsi created an actual physical presence, a monument to the history of his land.

There are also a number of differences between the Shehnameh and the Turksih literary tradition, and these must be acknowledged as it is important to remember that the Turkish literary heritage did not simply begin with Ferdowsi. A major difference between the Shahmenah and the Turkish literary tradition was that the Shahmenah took the epic form. Before Ferdowsi wrote his text, the Turkish oral literary tradition mainly involved everyday stories relating to folklore. The epic form of the Shahmenah involved the major events in the history of the world, from its creation through to the conquest of Persia in the seventh century. This could not have been more different from the folkloric tradition, which was not tied to a specific time period. Many of the tales that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Compare Shahnameh and Turkish Literature Effects of the Shahnameh in the Turkish and Ottoman.  (2012, December 5).  Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/compare-shahnameh-turkish-literature/6597217

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