Persia by Way of Paris: On Arnold's 'Sohrab and Rustum'

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This essay explores the influence of Sainte-Beuve's article 'Le Livre des Rois, par Firdousi' (1850), a review of Julius von Mohl's translation of Firdausi's Shahnameh, on the conception of Arnold's 'Sohrab and Rustum' (1853), exposing the paradoxical nature of this influence, since Sainte-Beuve both enabled Arnold to write the poem and implicitly challenged the 'authority' of any modern poet to rival a 'primary' epic poet such as Firdausi. In order to expound the conflicting nature of this influence, this study first investigates the underlying constituents of Firdausi's 'Sohrab' and then focuses on Arnold's version of it. Knowledge of Firdausi's original is crucial not because Arnold knew it, but because he did not. In the chain of interpretation from Mohl to Sainte-Beuve to Arnold, only Mohl had access to the Persian text. Sainte- Beuve relied on the fidelity of Mohl's translation, and Arnold had access only to what Sainte-Beuve selected from Mohl.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-40
Number of pages19
JournalMiddle Eastern Literatures
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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