Persian Literature and Indian Style: Subcontinent's Literary Influence

  January 19, 2021   Read time 1 min
Persian Literature and Indian Style: Subcontinent's Literary Influence
Subcontinent of India is the origin of one of the three major literary styles in Persian speaking world. Although Iran is known to be the bedrock of Persian literature, there have existed other active agents in the history of Persian literature. India has been home to great literati who major literary contributions.

The Indian style, which manifested itself during the 16th century CE, was not only practiced on the Subcontinent, but also temporarily in Persia, where Sa’eb (d. 1676), the last great poet of the ghazal, was its principal representative. Also this appellation covers different, sometimes contradictory features. On the one hand, it is marked by a less stylized language, coming closer to everyday speech; the poets of the Indian style allowed themselves greater freedom in the use of conventional imagery, and even introduced new images which hitherto had not been regarded as poetic. Occasionally this led to a relaxation of the strict structural soundness of the Persian language. On the other hand, the rule of harmonious imagery, observed by the older poets, was increasingly disregarded. Instead, incongruous images were connected with great, often exaggerated subtlety and sophistication. Philosophical themes were frequently broached, but in a rather superficial manner. More attention was given to ingenuity of expression than to profoundness of thought or natural sentiment. These stylistic innovations deeply influenced the subsequent history of IndoPersian and Urdu poetry. However, in Persia it led to a strong reaction in the 18th century, known as the “literary return” (bazgasht-e adabi), which inaugurated a renaissance of the older styles, especially the idealized simplicity of the Khorasani period. Yet, from a stylistic point of view, the value of the “geographical” theory for a historical periodization of Persian literature is slight. Especially the first two periods of this scheme are unsatisfactorily defined and cover too many divergent tendencies to be truly meaningful. It is therefore better to leave the description of development of style in poetry and prose to the subsequent volumes of this series where detailed arguments can be given within the appropriate context.

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