Introduction: Nizami Ganjavi and His Poetry

  • Kamran Talattof
  • Jerome W. Clinton


The poet Nizami Ganjavi (1140–1202) is one of the giants of the Persian literary tradition. As a narrative poet, he stands between Abolqasem Firdawsi (ca. 940–ca. 1020), the poet of Iran’s heroic tradition and the author of the Shahnamah (Book of Kings), and Jalaluddin Rumi (1207–1273), whose Divan-i kabir (Great Divan) and Kitab-i Masnavi Ma’navi (Spiritual Couplets) virtually define the forms of mystical lyric and mystical narrative poetry, respectively. Nizami’s narrative poetry is more comprehensive than that of either Firdawsi or Rumi, in that it includes the romantic dimensions of human relations as well the heroic, and plumbs the human psyche with an unprecedented depth and understanding. To be sure, a profound spiritual consciousness pervades his poetry, and to suggest otherwise would be to do him a disservice, but he does not, as does Rumi, make the whole focus of his work the evocation and articulation of the transcendent dimension of existence.


Literary History Twelfth Century Islamic World Transcendent Dimension Arabic Literature 
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© Kamran Talattof and Jerome W. Clinton 2000

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  • Kamran Talattof
  • Jerome W. Clinton

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