Newman is, of course, a poet, and I say "of course" because poets make the best literary translators. His own book of poetry, The Silence of Men, was recently published by CavanKerry Press. Richard served as Persian Arts Festival’s first Literary Arts Director, and he continues to co-curate the monthly Shab-e She’r (Night of Persian Poetry) that Persian Arts Festival holds from September through June at the Bowery Poetry Club. He is Associate Professor of English at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, where he coordinates the Creative Writing Project.
5 Sites to Learn More about The Teller of Tales
By Richard Jeffrey Newman
Shahnameh Historical and Cultural Questions – This page on the British Library website provides a very good overview of the historical and cultural importance of the Shahnameh.
Rostam: Tales From The Shahnameh – Rostam is a Hercules-like hero whose adventures in the Shahnameh are among the best known narratives Ferdowsi produced, especially the story of how he unwittingly kills Sohrab, his own son. Rostam: Tales from the Shahnameh brings Rostam's stories to life in comic book format.
Sohrab and Rostam – In this example of naqqali, a kind of traditional storytelling, Iraj Anvar performs the story of Sohrab and Rostam. Ralph Martin provides the English narration.
Pawn of the Gods or Independent Man – This article, by Antares Alleman and Arash Manzori, which I published in a special, Iranian-literature issue of the online journal ArteEast Quarterly explores the differences and similarities between the heroes in the Shahnameh and those in the Odyssey.
The Shahnameh used by the British as anti-Nazi propaganda – The central story in The Teller of Tales concerns the rule of Zahhak, an evil king whose reign is marked by a murderous depravity, epitomized by the fact that he had to feed human brains to the serpents growing out of his shoulders. If you scroll down to the end of this essay—which is about British World War II propaganda in general—you'll be able to see the five postcards the British produced in which they portrayed Hitler as Zahhak, a message they hoped would keep Iran loyal to them.
-- Richard Jeffrey Newman
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