VOLUME 1: “Tarikh-i-Rashidi: A History of the Khans of Moghulistan” by Mirza Haydar Dughlat Translator’s prefac...moreI've found a table of contents for this.
VOLUME 1: “Tarikh-i-Rashidi: A History of the Khans of Moghulistan” by Mirza Haydar Dughlat Translator’s preface Map of Moghulistan and surrounding areas The Khans of Moghulistan The Dughlat The Timurids mentioned in the Tarikh-i-Rashidi Chronology of the Tarikh-i-Rashidi TARIKH-I-RASHIDI BOOK ONE TARIKH-I-RASHIDI BOOK TWO Works cited VOLUME 2:”The Reign of the Mongol and the Turk” by Khwandamir Translator’s preface Part One: On the Khans of Turkistan and the Rule of Genghis Khan and his Sons in the Lands of Iran and Turan Genghis Khan’s progeny who ruled autonomously and independently in Iran Part Two: On Some of the Rulers Contemporary with the Genghisids Who Donned the Garb of Padishahs and Quaffed the Goblet of Divine Favour The Muzaffarids of Shiraz The Atabegs of Luristan The Kings of Rustamdar The History of the Kings of Mazanderan The Rule of the Sayyid The History of the Sarbadars of Sabzawar The Kurt King of Herat Part Three: On the Deeds and Exploits of His Majesty the Sahib-Qiran Amir Temur Kuragan, and an Exposition of that World-Conquering Padishah’s Sons and Grandsons Down to Today The reign of the victorious Khaqan Mu’inuddin Shahrukh Mirza The history of Shahrukh Mirza’s sons The reign of Mirza Sultan-Ibrahim The history of the reign of Sultan-Abusa’id Mirza The history of the reign of Sultan-Husayn Mirza The joint reign of Sultan Badi’uzzaman Mirza and Muzaffar-Husayn Mirza Kürägän The end of Sultan-Husayn Mirza’s noble offspring Part Four: On the Rising of the Sun of Regal Fortune, and How that Majesty Was Singled Out for Divine Favor The history of the Aqqoyunlu Turcomans The history of Shah Isma’il the Safavid Glossary of terms Books cited and reference works Index of persons Index of place pames Index of terms, books VOLUME 3: Compendium of Chronicles. A History of the Mongols by Rashiduddin Fazlullah Part One: The History of the Emergemce of the Turkic Nations and How they Divided into Various Tribes, along with a Summary History of the Ancestors of Each Nation Introduction: the geography of some of the places inhabited by the Turkic nations, and a list of names and epithets of each division 1 The histories and stories of the nations of Oghuz and the twenty-four branches of his sons and their offspring and some of his brothers and cousins who joined him 2 The Turkic nations that are now called Mongols but in times past were separate nations, each with its own language and name 3 The Turkic tribes that have also had separate monarchs and leaders but do not have a close relationship to the tribes mentioned in the previous division or to the Mongols yet are close to them in physiognomy and language 4 The Turkic tribes that were anciently styled Mongol, from which many tribes have come into being Part Two: History of the Rulerts of the Mongol and Turkic Peoples 1 The history of Genghis Khan’s forebears and ancestors 2 The history of Genghis Khan and his illustrious offspring, some of whom have become rulers in every era, others of whom have not been rulers of a specific ulus, along with a summary account of the rulers of the world contemporary with them down to the year 705 of the Hegira Glossary Works cited Index(less)
Part of “the first World History in the full sense ever written in any language.”
To quote from Boyle's introduction: Rashid al-Din's work is above all...morePart of “the first World History in the full sense ever written in any language.”
To quote from Boyle's introduction: Rashid al-Din's work is above all a repository of material on the history, legends, beliefs, and mode of life of the 12th- and 13th-century Mongols, material that has survived nowhere else in such profusion... We learn here too how this material was preserved: how “it was the custom in those days to write down day by day every word that the ruler uttered,” how these biligs or sayings, often couched in “rhythmical and obscure language,” were recited on festive occasions by such exalted persons as the Great Khan Ogodei and his brother Chaghatai; and how Temur Oljeitu was chosen to succeed his grandfather Qubilai because he knew the biligs of Genghis Khan better than his rival and declaimed them “well and with a pure accent.”
A primary source. There are tales in here that I have read twenty times in history books, but here I am moved by them, because they have human shading. You get such a different picture. In the first civil conflict of the Mongols: “But since the like machinations were unknown in the customs of the Mongols, especially in the age of Chingiz-Khan and his family, they were quite unable to believe him.” This is a sordid episode that ends in a great purge, but unlike in the histories it's told slowly here, with the disbelief and the distress, and people being emotional in general. At times – my example is Qubilai's trial of his brother Ariq Boke and party – the reported speech may be hard or impossible to follow (what do they mean? why did that Mongol proverb of his change his pardon to an execution order?). But it is speech. It's brilliant to have the exchanges, real or at least imputed by Mongols, to guess at.
The four pages on Tolui's last weeks are worthy of a play, I think. You see the gamut of Tolui, the heights and the lows. There's a gripping campaign story, a victory against great odds – through use of weather magic. Then he orders that they “commit the act of the people of Lot” on the prisoners – in answer to the enemy army's provocation, about what they were going to do to Mongol women. As far as I know this is a one-off, but Tolui was certainly the most violent of the Genghis sons. This is followed, straight on, by his sacrificial death. Ogodei is sick. “The qams (shamans), as is their custom, had pronounced their incantations and washed his sickness in water in a wooden cup. Because of his great love for his brother, Tolui snatched up that cup and cried out with great insistence...” Take me in his stead. If this is because of sins, I've committed more than him. If you want him because he's fine and handsome, I'm handsomer. He drinks down the illness-water; Ogodei recovers; a few days later Tolui falls sick and dies. As the translator says, Rashid's sources of information “contain many obviously legendary or folkloristic elements.” But it's authentic. The Mongols believed this tale; his widow Sorqoqtani holds it over Ogodei that he sacrificed himself (and Ogodei blames his drinking thereafter on his sorrow for Tolui). “They are valuable none the less as illustrative of the Mongol point of view and add considerable detail and colour to the somewhat laconic narrative of the Chinese chronicles.”
They also add point of view, detail and colour to the accounts in the history books. Don't miss them. (less)
The subject is enchanting, and he's a jovial writer. I did feel the lack of social context: most of this is about the Play Itself. There's a brief exp...moreThe subject is enchanting, and he's a jovial writer. I did feel the lack of social context: most of this is about the Play Itself. There's a brief explanation of why actors and playwrights not only survived but thrived in the chaos of Mongol conquest; and a quick look at Jin, or Jurchen China, another northern people known for musicality, whose narrative songs part-explain the sudden effusion of music drama with the Mongols who succeeded them. I'd have liked more about why these distinct societies encouraged theatre. But I'll keep in mind this is from 1980; I think more investigation has been done.
On the plays, or operas if you like since they are strung together on arias. Pantomime, acrobatics; a self-consciousness of art, with direct address to the audience or offstage interjections as if from the audience, jokes with the stage conventions – as he points out, you have to size these up alongside the Elizabethan age, say, and not our 'illusion-of-reality' theatre. They sound a bunch of fun. We have 182 extant and he translates three (he's also lavish with scenes in the text). A few of the comic sketches remain seriously funny, but you have to use your imagination, for music and performance were at the forefront. He does everything he can to resurrect the theatricality, deducing and speculating from clues how the plays worked or were experienced.
Often he calls them variety shows. This is a popular entertainment that “draws upon an elegantly polished literary tradition for its verse and utilizes the most pungent gutter idiom in dialogue or verse when it wishes contrast. It regularly includes song, declaimed verse, entrance and exit couplets and quatrains, slang, ordinary speech, rhythmic but unrhymed passages, and the whole gamut of theatrical accompaniments, including acrobatics, dance, lavish costuming, and stylized miming. Its tone ranges from farce through extravaganza to something akin to tragedy, and often these are combined in a single work.”
Have to say I love that inclusiveness, or is that expansion of art? At the start of one chapter he quotes a book on The Genius of Early English Theatre: “Prose theatre... usually lacks, as earlier drama does not, the element of play, of fun... The awareness that a drama is a play and an actor a player... [earlier drama] asks that the audience participate in the world on the stage and recognize that it is a sort of playful adult make-believe.” Amen. Give me old theatre. (less)
Fifteen-year-old Hassan returns to his native land in search of adventure, but emo...moreSequel to The Il-khan's Wife. From the author's site:
Persia, AD 1295
Fifteen-year-old Hassan returns to his native land in search of adventure, but emotionally unprepared for a chance encounter that will cahange his life.
Saved from a degrading forced marriage, sixteen-year-old Princess Doquz is bent on revenge for her humiliation. With the rebel commander, Ahmed Sabbah, she declares war on the Mongol Il-khanate.
But Doquz is reluctant to play the religious card that will help her brother Ghazan to the throne of Persia, until a reunion with Hassan, her childhood companion, forces her to reappraise her objectives and her sexuality.
From Tabriz to the Valley of the Assassins, deep in the Alburz Mountains, Hassan and Doquz pursue their quest, unaware of secrets that can destroy them both … and Sabbah must break a solemn oath to save them.
The History behind the Novel: After the death of Arghun Khan, Persia fell into the hands of his brother Gaikatu. However, the succession was disputed by their cousin Baidu, and civil war followed. The Tiger and the Cauldron tells the story of their quarrel and of the subsequent challenge by Arghun’s son, the newly-converted Mahmoud Ghazan (the Cauldron). After four years on the throne, Gaikatu was deposed and murdered - though I have taken liberties with the circumstances of his death. Baidu’s reign lasted only a few months.
Rashid ad-Din, who wrote the history of the Il-khans, appears in the novel as himself. Doquz - the Tiger of the tale - is invented though, in certain details, she may resemble her real-life namesake, Doquz, wife of Hulegu Khan, who was mourned by the Armenian historian Kirakos as ‘a second Helen.’(less)
Weighed up, I have to say I've found this a bit of a scarifying read. We know that Genghis Khan was the last, if the most spectacular, assertion of st...moreWeighed up, I have to say I've found this a bit of a scarifying read. We know that Genghis Khan was the last, if the most spectacular, assertion of steppe nomads over settled, and that ever since his age the nomads have been on the losing side. But this book brings it home to you. We know the 20th century was more horrific than the 13th... and then there are the centuries in between. The best of this book, I feel, was the sense of tragic absurdity we reached at about the centre of the steppe – like a Camus novel, even though I've forgotten them. He does meet with random acts of kindness from strangers and with great characters or eccentrics, that cheer you up on the journey. The adventure sounds romantic, and at times it is. But it's a bleak prospect he travels through.
My spirits were flagging in the Ukraine when we came upon the Hutsuls, who had kept safe an island of sanity in the Carpathian Mountains. We end on a high note in Hungary with much interest in the past, but then the afterword warns of the effect of massive new mines in the last real bastion itself, Mongolia. I think any review has to mention the drunkenness, which is a scourge right the way from Mongolia to Hungary.
On the sunny side. He achieves his goal, to learn to look through the eyes of a nomad. Late in his trip he starts to talk about the settled's attitude to roads and fences, and he can start to take down our own settled assumptions. One evening spent on the old circuit with a nomad family in Kazakhstan sticks in the head – along with other pockets of traditional life he is happy to stumble on. Then there is the awful travesty of a hunt by rifle out a car window... google 'Kazakh eagle hunters' for pictures of the old-style version he describes. It's an upsetting book, though Tim, with his decision to “trust in people's good side”, can see that good side even in testing circumstances, and that counts for a lot. An old man who sells him a horse acts very rudely, but then you learn what the horse means to him.
For Genghis in the 13th century, it's hard to sort history from legend. One thing that gets slurred over, frequently, and does here – although mostly in his notes – is the evolution of the Mongol idea of world-conquest. It seems to have set in with success; its first (non-legendary) expression dates from after Genghis Khan's lifetime. Genghis may have seen its early growth; certainly he didn't leave Mongolia with world-conquest already in his sights. There's enough madness and madmen in here without that...
I wouldn't have missed this book, of course, but it ain't a joyride. (less)
A lesson from a great master in how not to write historical fiction. Flaubert is a writer’s writer, as Spenser is called a poet’s poet, so I can say t...moreA lesson from a great master in how not to write historical fiction. Flaubert is a writer’s writer, as Spenser is called a poet’s poet, so I can say that for a review.
It’s as outrageously bloody as Ross Leckie’s Hannibal – of course, with a lot more class. As exotic as... I don’t know what. The past was never this exotic: not exotic to itself. Flaubert believed in the writer being like God, everywhere present but invisible. It isn’t my school (nor his other, that a writer observes the world but has no right to comment), in spite of which I want to tell him that a collection of exotics is no way to airbrush out his hand. These are easy criticisms and have been made a hundred times. What isn’t easy is to assess what he’s doing, in the dodgy public domain translation I read. I swear to look into this again with the Krailsheimer – which I suppose is the only recent option?
In Salammbo herself he tried to portray an ancient type of woman without internal workings. I mean, he seemed to believe people of antiquity needn’t have our inner lives. It’s interesting, as is what he wants to say about religion. Because I feel I can’t get near this in a quick read of the free ebook, I’m going to give him five stars for effort and abstain on the achievement. I’ll return... since Flaubert is the original Slow Writer, who broke his back over a comma. I respect that. (less)
For about 300 pages -- I can be precise: from chapters 2 to 21 -- I was entranced with this book. With the creative description, with its people and t...moreFor about 300 pages -- I can be precise: from chapters 2 to 21 -- I was entranced with this book. With the creative description, with its people and their interaction, and with his sheer adventure-telling ability. Unfortunately it didn't maintain itself for me. The sentences to swoon at became less frequent, as did the laughs, and my love of the group members began to drift. The adventures were still there, certainly. But I wasn't gripping my seat as I had done.
It remained a stand-out book, but my experience is shaped by that elusive magic spell that came and went. Of course it's no mean feat to cast a spell even for a third of a book. The last stretches I felt weak, which makes a review hard to write...
I look forward to his next, where he travels even further.(less)
Inescapably I thought of the Matthew Shardlake mystery I read last year – lured by what I’d heard of its dirty streets of 16th century England, C.J. S...moreInescapably I thought of the Matthew Shardlake mystery I read last year – lured by what I’d heard of its dirty streets of 16th century England, C.J. Sansom’s sensory evocation of setting. Here I am in 16th century Scotland, in a novel written first to evoke time and place, with a gritty detailed realism, that stands your hair on end. I’ll go on with my Shardlakes but I found this one even more effective, and Hew Cullan has jumped the queue.
The writing is a joy. I notice in the author biography she did postgrad study in seventeenth-century prose; she knows how to write the sixteenth century into her sentences – without being difficult, but with an authenticity achieved. She does a shifting point-of-view that textures the novel, that makes people come alive – she enters their consciousness, and when they’re in an extreme experience, her impressionistic writing can get it across. It’s like a milder dose of what Robert Low did in The Lion Wakes (also very Scottish). In short I’ll read anything written like this, mystery or whatever.
I found the story strong. Who did what just isn’t what matters; I’m a bad guesser at mysteries and didn’t foresee much; it was a story about the university, and the kirk, and the society of St Andrews; and it was well-ended. Ends are hard to do. When I say it’s toe-curling – I had a real sense of horror, the more so because she can be understated – it’s not one of those ‘nasty, brutish and short’ books, but about a struggling humanity. Hew is too humane for his profession of the law. Can he and his friends save society’s victims? That is the question, and I cared. (less)
I’m going to agree with Trollope himself on this work: I do not know that in any literary effort I ever fell more completely short of my own intention...moreI’m going to agree with Trollope himself on this work: I do not know that in any literary effort I ever fell more completely short of my own intention than in this story. It was my purpose to create sympathy for the unfortunate man who, while endeavouring to do his duty to all around him, should be led constantly astray by his unwillingness to submit his own judgement to the judgement of others. The man is made to be unfortunate enough, and the evil which he does is apparent. So far I did not fail, but the sympathy has not been created yet. I look upon the story as being nearly altogether bad. It is in part redeemed by certain scenes in the house and vicinity of an old maid in Exeter. But a novel which in its main parts is bad cannot, in truth, be redeemed by the vitality of subordinate characters.
Certainly I pitied Trevelyan, when it became clear to those injured by him, and even to his private detective, that he is a pitiable madman. I’d have to say that neither he nor his wife were given much character, beyond what they need to set the plot in motion. She has the trait that makes her refuse to give way, and I never felt I learnt more of her, to care about her fate other than on general principles. The whole novel can be programmatic: the number of times I read ‘she/he liked to have her/his way’ made the theme stand out. Trevelyan takes this to an insane pitch – although this mental fault lies quiet in him until he is put in charge of a family. He is unfit so to be. Jealousy is not the trigger, and the fault might/must have been set off by another type of incident: what he cannot live with is that his wife disobeys him; and then, when every friend tells him he is wrong, he cannot contemplate being so. This is not the sort of insanity you want to marry; but Trollope tells us it’s an ordinary, everyday one: “There is perhaps no great social question so imperfectly understood among us at the present day as that which refers to the line which divides sanity from insanity... We know that the sane man is responsible for what he does, and that the insane man is irresponsible; but we do not know – we only guess wildly, at the state of mind of those, who now and again act like madmen, though no court or council of experts has declared them to be mad.” [Chapter 38, Verdict of the Jury – ‘Mad, my Lord’]
There wasn’t enough about this. At least for me – I found the above chapter the peak of interest in the novel. I don’t think he followed through, enough to get across what he meant to. He was frustrated with the results, and I was too, to be honest. Where’s your psychology, sir? I know it’s up your sleeve.
I’ll agree with Trollope that the liveliest parts concern Aunt Stanbury and Dorothy. A Tory old dragon, and a girl without an ego: of course he intends to make me love them, and easily succeeds. There is a lame comedy on the catfight of two sisters over a clergyman. I might find this funny if I’d ever met people as shallow as these sisters, outside of novels. He also travesties Americans and feminists. It’s times like this I wonder what I’m doing in a Trollope novel.
On the other hand, the novel seemed to me to have such strenuous criticism of marriage as she is run – from the point of view, and in the interests of both sexes – that I now and then seriously wondered whether the reader’s belief in marriage was intended to survive. And given that I myself see so few single-woman role models (there was the last prime minister of Australia), perhaps I ought to come more often these days to Victorian England, land of old maids. Two or three of them, in Trollope’s novel, swear by it.
Bottom line, I was here to see him work up to a ‘Shakespearean pitch’ of psychology in the mad scenes – as advertised in the blurbs. Until then, I thought more of A Winter’s Tale than Othello. Because the trouble happens in the first scene/chapter, and the husband needs no-one to suggest it to him; the offender’s an old friend, and there’s the matter of the child. Also, Winter’s Tale gets the greatest mad speeches. – But Trevelyan’s last speeches, when they came, were about as tedious as Timon of Athens, bitterly railing against the world. The rest of the last hundred pages were only the tying up of a Victorian plot, and the book, that had been four stars, sank in my estimation. Still, by the sound of Trollope, I don’t know he’d have stretched to three stars.
Well worth the read for me, great interest in the material, but a sense of squandered potential. (less)
Revisited. Turgenev's short novels were second to Dostoyevsky for me, as far as Russians go (and Russians go far). Though I can see why Turgenev's des...moreRevisited. Turgenev's short novels were second to Dostoyevsky for me, as far as Russians go (and Russians go far). Though I can see why Turgenev's despair of Russia as instanced here might have annoyed D... 'Go to foreign parts'. Anyhow, never mind that. I can also see why this one spoke closely to me as a girl. Yelena is a serious girl who needs an ethical and active life, and finds a freedom fight to throw herself into -- Bulgaria from the Turks. I was always impressed by Turgenev's young women, whose engagement with the questions of the day he can put centre-stage.
Bersenev is eminently likeable from page one; Uvar Ivanovich grows on you. Insarov, Yelena's Bulgarian hero, is astutely mocked by other participants and you can make up your own mind.
I didn't remember his descriptiveness, which I found of real beauty now. I dare say I paid little attention then: my idol D. is famous for describing a tree, once, in his entire writings. That may be an exaggeration. The intro to mine says the atmospherics of his Venice must have fed into Death in Venice (another I was in love with, so maybe I did notice).
Nostalgic for the era after my James Tiptree Jr bio. Ursula K. Le Guin gets to choose original fiction for this, alongside agent Kidd. It has several...moreNostalgic for the era after my James Tiptree Jr bio. Ursula K. Le Guin gets to choose original fiction for this, alongside agent Kidd. It has several sf poems. They refuse a 'house style' in English Usage, eg. world spellings.
In the first story, by John Crowley, a time machinist has Virginia Woolf in for a visit. I didn't understand it. (I like that in a story).
&& End report. A few were about history, or prehistory. A few were about extinction. (less)