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Courtly Riddles

Enigmatic Embellishments in Early Persian Poetry

228 pages
Amsterdam University Press
This is the first study of Persian literary riddles to appear in English, analyzing a wide range of complex riddling poems systematically from the tenth to the twelfth century. In addition to the genre of riddles, the book examines the relationship between metaphors and riddles and the genre of literary description.
Literary riddles occur in the early specimens of Persian literature from the tenth century and they continue to be used in modern Iranian society.

What is it that it has neither trousers nor shirt?
[Yet] you can place on her lap whatever you wish
Although she has no tongue, she speaks the truth,
With a dragon, a scorpion upon her neck.
a scale (quppân)

‘Courtly Riddles demonstrates how the taste for riddles lies at the core of the development of Persian poetry. It proposes a careful, learned and systematic analysis of this hitherto little-studied and puzzling poetical game.’
Christine van Ruymbeke, University of Cambridge
Author Bio
Asghar Seyed-Gohrab is Professor of Iranian and Persian Studies at Utrecht University in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He has published extensively on Persian literature, mysticism and religion. His publications range from Persian poetry to Sufism and the role of religious and mystical motifs and metaphors in Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and how peaceful religious injunctions are used to justify violence. Currently, he is the Principal Investigator (PI) of an ERC-Advanced Grant entitled Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in Shaping Islam (www.beyondsharia.nl), examining Islamic non-conformist movements.