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Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

(دوره چهار جلدی شاهنامه استاد خالقی مطلق)

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  4,323 ratings  ·  303 reviews
Among the great works of world literature, perhaps one of the least familiar to English readers is the "Shahnameh: ThePersian Book of Kings," the national epic of Persia. This prodigious narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi between the years 980 and 1010, tells the story of pre- Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of Creation and continuing forward to the Arab i ...more
Hardcover, 886 pages
Published 2006 by Viking (first published 1010)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
شاهنامه فردوسی (شش جلد)؛ = Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, Abolqasem Ferdowsi

I have struggled much these thirty years
in order to keep Persian.

Firdowsi Tusi (c. 940–1020), or Ferdowsi was a Persian poet and the author of Shahnameh (Book of Kings), which is the world's longest epic poem created by a single poet, and the national epic of Greater Iran.

Ferdowsi is celebrated as the most influential figure in Persian literature and one of the greatest in the history of literature. Among the gre
Ahmad Sharabiani
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings Vol. 9, Abolqasem Ferdowsi
The first modern critical edition of the Shahnameh was prepared by a Russian team led by E. E. Bertels, using the oldest known manuscripts at the time, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, with heavy reliance on the 1276 manuscript from the British Museum and the 1333 Leningrad manuscript, the latter of which has now been considered a secondary manuscript. In addition, two other manuscripts used in this edition have been so demot
J.G. Keely
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, epic
The history of the world is a history of jerks. Starting with Gilgamesh, our earliest epic hero, who makes everyone wrestle him until they are exhausted then goes off to sleep with their wives while they pray to the gods to deliver them, to Achilles sulking in his tent, the Athenians sentencing Socrates to die because he talks too much, or Tacitus writing of how Caligula, Claudius, and Nero ruled through assassination and manipulation.

Sure, there are always a few level-headed, intelligent fellow
Vincent Asaro
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the greatest collection of stories I have ever read! It is a true "dream book"; if you love wonder stories, myths and heroic epics this is the kind of saga you dream about. Every story is better than the one preceding it and it keeps mounting until it reaches heights of imagination and storytelling that are all but untouchable. As in Persian poetry the language is rich, layered and achingly beautiful. It is basically a long family saga but it never gets too complicated to follow. ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Dick Davis (Translator), Azar Nafisi (Foreword)
Among the great works of world literature, perhaps one of the least familiar to English readers is the "Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings," the national epic of Persia. This prodigious narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi between the years 980 and 1010, tells the story of pre- Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of Creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the seve
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shahnameh: The Epic of Persian Kings is a formidable book & most translations do not include the entire manuscript. Having read parts of the translation by Dick Davis, I was informed that a new translation was in the works, just as I prepared for a visit to Iran during the summer of 2012 & quite conveniently taking a mini-course on the book, taught by Prof. Ahmad Sadri, who just happened to be the person doing the new translation. The new translation in an oversized format within a slipcase, wit ...more
The olden kings gave us the gift of a peaceful holiday.
Calling for wine and musicians at the onset of spring
They forgave, they forgot, and drank their worries away.

This is a review of the edition of Shanameh published by the Quantuck Lane Press. It is an adaptation, as labeled on the first page; it is certainly shorter than the full text as listed for the Penguin etc. editions. But it is accompanied by beautifully ornate, full illustrations on every page, original to the edition, and the text ce
Biblio Curious
Time is beneficial when reading this one.

I originally started this July 2017 and am now finished December 2018. That would be a year and a half spent with this book. And it's so incredibly appropriate because this book is a chronicle of Persia's history told through the lineage of its kings.

This book begins with the Persian creation story with all of its absolute wild, unpredictable magical elements. The early stories contain magic & mythological creatures. I'm sure if you grew up with classic W
Mrs. Miska
Jul 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My literary travels around Iran continued this month with Shahnameh, and boy was it a long trip. Clocking in at 854 pages (not including glossaries and indices), it took me nearly a month to read, and not for lack of interest; the stories are, for the most part, fascinating.

Originally, my plan was to sample stories from Shahnameh to get an idea of Persian mythology. Shahnameh is roughly the Persian equivalent of The Odyssey or Beowulf, covering stories of Persian heroes and historical events. Un
Feb 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All iranians
Shelves: persian
An extraordinary book, I believe that this book has saved my mother tongue respectful language, Persian, it has saved our history. All true iranians owe Ferdousi. This is the book we need to remember ourselves.
Robert Sheppard

Goethe honored Persian Literature as one of the four great literary traditions of World Literature, or "Weltliteratur" as he named it. In his "West-
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am not so presumptuous as to review the Shahnameh. Does one review Shakespeare or Augustine? But I will comment on Dick Davis' excellent translation. Some people complain that it's written in prose; others complain that it's written in poetry. Yet the magic of this translation is the incorporation of the two. As he says in the introduction, Davis' goal is not to faithfully reproduce the tens of thousands of lines of poetry that took Ferdowsi 30 years to write. Rather, he opts for a combination ...more
Just magnificent in every way. The essence of Shahnameh can be found in these lines:

Such is the passing world that you must leave,
All men must die, and it is vain to grieve.
No learning will suffice against Death's hand,
Whose might no arms or helmet can withstand;
And—king or prophet— in the end you must
Descend to dirt, and slumber in the dust.
Pursue desire, consider life a game
And, if you can, look out for luck and fame—
But know the world's your enemy; your head
Will lie in dust, the grave will b
Czarny Pies
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The foolhardy.
Shelves: asian-literature
This book which is of enormous importance to the development of Iranian and the larger Turkic culture that it inevitably rates five stars. It is like Dante's Divine Comedy in that it casts judgement on the events, politics and culture of an extremely time long period. Like the Divine Comedy it should be approached with a great deal of caution. Without the right cultural baggage, the pleasures of the two works are virtually inaccessible.

Bravo to Dick Davis for a readable translation and to Pengui
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Shâhnameh recounts the history of Iran, beginning with the creation of the world and the introduction of the arts of civilization (fire, cooking, metallurgy, law, etc.) to the Aryans and ends with the Arab conquest of Persia. The work is not precisely chronological, but there is a general movement through time. Some of the characters live for hundreds of years (as do some of the characters in the Bible), but most have normal life spans. There are many shahs who come and go, as well as heroes ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Both FMF & Bloom rec this one ; so who's to argue? And now Penguin has an edition with new translation forthcoming in just a few days. It's gunna be FAT :: Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings.

I saw the new edition of Shahnameh yesterday at The Village Bookshop. Slipcased. But shrink wrapped so I couldn't smudge it with my beautiful fingers. US$75, but cheaper today at amazon which has a few pretty pics up. A wonderously put-together volume it would appear. isbn 1593720513.
Jee Koh
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Finally finished reading Shahnameh today, the Persian Book of Kings, translated by Dick Davis. Arranged like a royal chronicle, the book falls into two parts, the first legendary half, teeming with hero-kings and demons, and the second more "realistic" half, closer as the history is to Ferdowsi's own time. The turning point lies in the reign of Sekandar (Alexander the Great), who is depicted initially as a world conqueror, but later, more importantly, as a seeker of knowledge.

I like the legends
Rosanne Hawke
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Who am I to rate or review Abolqasem Ferdowsi's ancient and classic Shahnameh, The Persian Book of Kings? Since I only know a smattering of Persian, nor can I comment on Dick Davis' translation from the original into English, which I have heard is excellent, but cannot verify. This is a volume which I dip into and will still be doing so in the years ahead, so I will take it from my currently reading list even though I am halfway. It is fascinating and I am enjoying it but that is not the only re ...more
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well, it's been a while since I tackled this bad boy, and what a big boy it is. Picture this: you're a poet, you're Zoroastrian, it's about 1000 years after this Christ fellow (whom you don't know) got to meet his maker (curiously, himself), and you decide it would be a good idea to record the complete history of the great Persian empires whose final vestiges has been overrun by those pesky Moslems. Oh yeah, and it takes you thirty years to write it. There is a reason it is a cornerstone of Pers ...more
It has been called the "Persian Quran" by Ibn al-Athir, even though this title is not common knowledge among the Persian speakers but somehow indicates the importance of this book for all Persian speakers of the Iranian world, including Afghanistan and Tajikistan, to other Persian speakers of Central Asia, Pakistan and as far as China, the Republic of India, as well as the many Iranians living abroad all around the world since the Revolution of 1979.

This book is also important to the remaining 2
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Started this masterpiece of Persian poetry in January 2017 and finished it in August 2017, dedicating an hour a day every day.

This was not an easy task for me to accomplish, as I have been away from Iran for 40 years, during which I did not read any books in Farsi.

I realized immediately that I need help!

First and foremost, there was the question of the pronunciation of many words, especially the names of the characters. What helped: the audio version of Shahnameh done for the Institute of the B
Zarry Bahrami
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What could be more epic and fascinating to a Persian soul than an well-crafted epic narration of Persian kings and heroes? All of us should thank Mr Ferdowsi for this long poetic history of Persia❤
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Dick Davis’s English is the closest I’ll ever get to Persia’s national epic, a multivolume poem condensed here to a version that leavens the inevitable tedium of the chronicle with a remarkable string of well-realized vignettes related in supple, vivid language. In Dick’s translation, each of the many kings and heroes of Ferdowsi’s giant epic miraculously stay distinct, and you get enough of each story—especially the famous Rostam’s—to develop a feel for the aesthetic predilections of classical ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why am I giving this book a star rating? Obviously it's a 5, it's the basis of literature, it's the Old Testament of Iran. And it's dense, and poetic, and lovely, and repetitive, and slightly boring, and I'm glad I read it, and I never will again, but I do wish I'd read it in a classroom setting, because I'm from a completely different culture, and I don't even have any friends that are from Iran, much less anyone that speaks Farsi. I probably missed literally everything important in this poem. ...more
Worthy epic of a nation and people many many centuries old. Full of iranian mythology, wars (a lot of it), romances, heroes, villains and shahs. Ferdowsi deserves the honor and praise he receives. Composed a century or so after the arab conquest, it helps preserve the stories and legends of pre-islamic Persia for future generations. If you enjoy other epics, you'll the Shahnameh. ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading this epic's stories and knowing them by heart is part of being an Iranian. It's one of the richest and one of the most important sources of Persian literature, language, culture, mythology, and history. Ferdowsi's work is a national treasure and, although in his time it wasn't regarded as such, it certainly is today. ...more
# 26 of 133 on Clifton Fadiman's New Lifetime Reading Plan

Entertaining at the start, and then just tedious.....
I picked up Shahnameh twice before, even purchasing a used copy the second time, but could not get into it. This time I was determined to read it and I am so glad I invested the energy and the determination. It requires both as it does get somewhat repetitive in terms of descriptors for the noble knights and savagery of battle and the beauty of women, the fruit of deceit, envy, greed, treachery, fratricide, patricide, infanticide, but it is worth the time. I only wish I had been able to read it ...more
I have an older edition of this book. I read it because it was mention in two other books I recently read. If you like epics, it is wonderful. It also includes a fore runner of "Rapunzel" in the story of Zal and Rubadeh which is better than "Rapunzel" for Zal refuses to climb up using Rubadeh's hair; he says doing so would besmirch it. ...more
Donnie Corrêa
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Much like the Bible's Old Testament, the Book of Kings is a veeeery beautifull piece of persian classic literature. I fell in love with it the first time I came into contact, and a good part of my love for the middle east and it's beauty was born with the last page of this book. ...more
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Abolqasem Ferdowsi (Persian: ابوالقاسم فردوسی), the son of a wealthy land owner, was born in 935 in a small village named Paj near Tus in Khorasan which is situated in today's Razavi Khorasan province in Iran.
He devoted more than 35 years to his great epic, the Shāhnāmeh. It was originally composed for presentation to the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival o

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