Monday, January 7, 2013

Lecture (10): O Majnun, Why So Blue?

As a bit of early January serendipity, I came across a lecture by a true doyenne of Persian (and Arabic!) literature, Julie Scott Meisami, entitled "'I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues': Depictions of Majnun in Persian Illustrated Manuscripts," given at the 2009 Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, just as I was studying for my Classical Persian Literature midterm, for which we must study, amongst other things, selections from Nizami Ganjavi's celebrated Layli va Majnun. Prof. Meisami needs little introduction for she is a scholar of such stature that it would be hard to come across a dissertation or monograph on pre-modern Persian or Arabic literature without her name in the bibliography.

Prof. Meisami's talk discusses how depictions of Majnun in illustrated manuscripts of three of the most famous Persian tellings of this romance (that of Nizami's, Amir Khusraw Dihlavi's and Jami's) remained consistent despite the differences in authors, narratives, and the workshops in which they were produced. Her talk may be seen here, along with a detailed abstract of it and a brief biography of the presenter. 

Layla visits Majnun, from Akbar's Quintet of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi
Late 16th century, Mughal India. Courtesy: Walters Art Museum photostream.

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