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Writing War in Contemporary Iran

The Case of Esmāʻil Fasih’s Zemestān-e 62

Saeedeh Shahnahpur

Writing War in Contemporary Iran offers a complete account of Esmā’il Fasih’s life, works, and position in contemporary Iranian literature. This book uses a text-based analysis of Fasih’s wartime novel Zemestān-e 62 (The Winter of ‘83, 1985) as a case study, and illustrates how the book set a precedent for anti-war novels that appeared in the period following the Iran–Iraq War. Unlike the many one-dimensional novels of the time which focused only on state ideology, Fasih’s novel grapples with broader issues, such as the state’s war rhetoric and the socio-political realities of life in wartime, including the impact of the War of the Cities on the daily lives of Iranians, government policies and their enactment, and the contribution of the upper class to war efforts. In this vein, The Winter of ‘83 was the first Persian anti-war novel that was different in that it did not present a glorified or heroic vision of the war and its participants. Furthermore, the book deals with the analysis of Fasih’s postwar novels, which emphasized the roles and sacrifices of Iranian women during the war—a neglected theme in Persian war novels—marking him as one of the most culturally important war writers in contemporary Iran.

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Chapter 4. Spatial-Temporal Significance in War


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This chapter analyzes the setting in Zemestān-e 62, with regard to its historical context and the geographic location in which the story takes place. Generally, there are two types of settings: the actual setting in which the events happen in the real world, and the fictional setting in which the author chooses to construct their story. These settings are often tightly linked together as authors frequently choose actual eras or moments in history and places familiar or relatable to their audience as the settings of fictional works. Depending on the genre and type of story, each narrative has a specific setting. For instance, in war novels, such as Zemestān-e 62, the setting is based on historical details; it follows a chronological “temporal-spatial” structure. In this respect, as one of the major concerns in narrative analysis, the specificity of “spatio-temporal” indications must be investigated.

There is a close relationship between fictional setting and characters, for according to Michael Toolan, setting is an instrumental element leading a character to act in a certain way. He explains that the setting “may be either cause or effect of how characters are and behave.”1 In Zemestān-e 62, the setting indeed represents and reflects the characters’ behaviors and ideologies. From descriptions of the characters’ homes, as private settings, one can understand their likes, dislikes, ideologies, approaches, and worldviews. For ← 143 | 144 → instance, it is through an interior description...

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