Book review “The Persian Whitman: Beyond a Literary Reception”

Mostafa Abedinifard, University of British Columbia


Behnam M. Fomeshi’s The Persian Whitman: Beyond a Literary Reception is a welcome contribution to the fields of comparative literature as well as Persian and American literary studies. Using a new historicist methodology, and drawing on theories and concepts from several disciplines, Fomeshi delves into the cultural and sociopolitical contexts around the reception of Walt Whitman in Iran to show that the reception –be it translational, critical, or creative– has been more than “literary.” While impacting literary modernism in Iran, particularly by contributing to the emergence of New Poetry, Iranians’ reception of Whitman, Fomeshi argues, has also served sociopolitical and ideological purposes. Throughout the book, Fomeshi shows adequate mastery over both sides of his comparison and over his primary and secondary sources, while also showcasing overall insightful instances of socio-historically informed and contextualized close readings.

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