Persian literature is famous worldwide for its love poetry and epic traditions. This fifteen-minute interview with Dr Alice Hunsberger sheds light on a different side of Persian poetry—the philosophical. Focusing on the finest poet of this genre in her book Pearls of Persia: The Philosophical Poetry of Nasir-i Khusraw, Dr Hunsberger explores the ideas and literary merits of this highly esteemed 11th century (CE) Persian Muslim poet, philosopher, traveler and Ismaili da‘i.

Dr Hunsberger discusses Nasir Khusraw’s use of literary devices, which have impressed his readers for a thousand years. Comprising articles by international authorities on Persian literature, the book explores his poetry as an art form rather than solely as a vehicle to decipher his philosophical thought, which has been the main focus in most studies of his work. Dr Hunsberger also illuminates the making of this book – from the wide range of expert contributors to the variety of topics ranging from metaphysics, cosmology ontology, and prophecy, to poetic rhythm and structure, and analysis of individual poems and the matter of authorship.

Pearls of Persia is not only the first book to analyse Nasir Khusraw’s poetic style; it is also the first in the field of Persian literature to deeply explore the genre of philosophical poetry. This volume, therefore, represents the initiation of important studies in the genre of Persian philosophical poetry.


1. What is the central theme of your edited book ‘Pearls of Persia’?

2. How did the idea of publishing the book come about?

3. How were the contributors selected for this book?

4. What are the key points you would like readers to take away from the book?

5. What is the relevance of this work in this day and age?

6. Who is the intended audience of this book?