The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased to announce the publication of Pearls of Persia: The Philosophical Poetry of Nasir-i Khusraw edited by Dr Alice C. Hunsberger. This volume combines articles from a range of contributors on different aspects of Nasir-i Khusraw’s philosophical poetry, including its rhythm, self-reference, structure and speech.


Dr Hunsberger currently lectures on Islam and Sufism at the City University of New York and was formerly a Research Fellow at the Institute. Her scholarly expertise focuses on Nasir-i Khusraw’s life and his work. Dr Hunsberger is the author of the acclaimed biography, an IIS publication, entitled Nasir Khusraw, The Ruby of Badakhshan: A Portrait of the Persian Poet, Traveller and Philosopher (2000).


This edited volume is based on a collection of papers initially presented at an international conference, The Philosophical Poetry of Nasir-i Khusraw, held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in September 2005. The conference was held to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the birth of this well-known and often-quoted Persian-language poet.


Nasir-i Khusraw, a major figure in medieval Persian culture, lived a thousand years ago in the lands known today as Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. He is revered by Persian speakers as one of the finest poets of their language. Yet, in the West, where he is recognised by some for his travelogue, the Safar-nama, which details seven years of his travels in Central Asia and the Middle East, Nasir-i Khusraw’s poetry is far less familiar. This is due to the fact that the genre of Persian philosophical poetry remains largely unexplored.


According to Dr Hunsburger, one of the goals of this publication was to ‘look at Nasir-i Khusraw as a poet’, which meant including analyses not just of his poetry, but of his poetic art. ‘Pearls of Persia has several articles that focus closely on particular poetic techniques and several that examine entire poems as complete works of art, showing how they are framed and structured internally and externally.’


In an interview, Dr Farhad Daftary, Co-Director of the Institute, says: “This is the first book published in the West on the philosophical poetry of Nasir-i Khusraw.” Pearls of Persia is an innovative work that seeks to broaden the field of studies on Nasir-i Khusraw and analyse his poetic art and technique, while also raising the profile of Persian philosophical poetry.


This publication will appeal to all those interested in the life and works of Nasir-i Khusraw, particularly those interested in his poetry, as well as students of Persian literature and medieval Islamic thought and poetry.


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