Dowlatabadi writing about 3 legendary heroes in Shahnameh

Financial Tribune- Celebrated author Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, who unveiled his novel “Thirst” at the 31st Tehran International Book Fair (May 2-12), is working on a trilogy (in Persian) on the life and tragic fate of three young characters from Shahnameh (book of kings), epic poems of renowned Persian poet Ferdowsi (940-1020).

Shahnameh, composed of 60,000 verses, weaves mythical and historical information associated with fifty Persian kings from the creation of the world until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century. For over 1,000 years, it has remained one of the most popular works in the Persian-speaking world.

In the trilogy, for which Dowlatabadi has picked the title “Bornayan-e Javdan” (everlasting youth) he is to give a detailed account of the life of the three characters: Siavash and Esfandiar, as well as Sohrab who is the son of the leading hero of Shahnameh, Rostam, in prose, ISNA reported on its Persian website.

By recounting the stories of the young characters, Dowlatabadi concentrates on the youth in general and how they have fallen victim to the greed, pride and ambitions of their elders, particularly their fathers. What the three have in common is their innocence, honesty and the trust they mistakenly put in others.

Dowlatabadi is now in talks with a publisher (name not yet known) to release the first volume of the trilogy that covers the story of Sohrab. The second and third volume will cover stories of Siavash and Esfandiar.

Attached to each book will be a CD containing the audio file of the book read by Dowlatabadi himself. The music and sound effects of the audio book has been composed by Kiavash Saheb-Nassaq. “The good thing about this musician is that he has a good knowledge of ancient Iranian musical instruments as he has done research on some of the obsolete instruments,” Dowlatabadi said.

In the story of Rostam and Sohrab, which is the most tragic episode of Shahnameh, the two characters, without recognizing each other, come face-to-face in battle. They fight in single combat in which Rostam hurls Sohrab to the ground and stabs him fatally, though Rostam had cunningly talked Siavash out of killing him earlier in the battle when Siavash had the upper hand.

As written in Shahnameh, Siavash was a legendary Iranian prince from the earliest days of the Persian Empire. He is the symbol of innocence in Iranian literature. His defense of his own chastity, self-imposed exile, loyalty to his wife and ultimate execution at the hands of his host have become intertwined with Iranian mythology and literature over the past millennia.

The physical strength and popularity of Sivash, who is married to the daughter of Afrasyab, king of Turan, causes jealousy in Afrasyab’s brother Garsivaz. Afraid of not being Afrasyab`s heir to the throne, Garsivaz incites the king to kill Siavash.

Invulnerable warrior Esfandiar is a crown prince and son of King Goshtasb. Ghostasb repeatedly promises handling over the crown to his son if he succeeds in his difficult missions.

Every time Esfandiar returns, the father who does not want to part with his throne comes up with a new life-threatening task. Finally, despite being aware of a prediction that foretells the death of Esfandiar at the hand of Rostam, Goshtasb compels the young hero to go and bring the aging Rostam in chains for his arrogance and disrespect toward the king, promising that upon completing the mission he will give him the throne and retire.

Esfandiar initially protests, reminding his father of Rostam’s fame and service to the dynasty, but eventually complies with his father’s wish and sets out towards Rostam’s dwelling.

Dowlatabadi, 76, is a master in combining rural speech with lyrical features of Persian poetry. He is particularly gifted in portraying social and ethical problems of the poor, especially in the rural areas where he grew up.

His most famous novels are ‘Kelidar’, ‘Missing Soluch’ and ‘The Colonel’ which have been translated into Norwegian, German, English, Italian, and French languages for western readers.