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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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Notes on Translations, Transliterations, and Endnotes


I have endeavored to remain as faithful to the original Persian texts as possible. Where I have occasionally felt that a literal English translation rendered the meaning of a certain passage somewhat unclear, I have added words in order to clarify the intended meaning. Unless otherwise stated, translations of the Persian texts referenced in this work are my own.

Throughout, I use the Common Era calendar in writing dates. For the publication dates of Persian sources, I have used their Common Era equivalent.

Any references to “Persian,” “Persian writers,” “Persian literature,” “Persian poetry,” “Persian novel” etc., imply only that the relevant literary works were written in Persian by Iranian writers; Persian is not only the official language of Iran, but also that of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and other parts of Central Asia.

Regarding the transliteration of Persian names, words, and terms, I have used the system of transliteration below. For the sake of simplicity, I have used Anglicized forms of Arabic and Persian words which have become common in English. For instance, I write “Quran,” rather than “Qur′ān” or “Koran.” I have also remained faithful to the transliteration of names or titles in quotations. The names of Iranian authors, critics, and poets who have had their ← xi | xii → works published in English have not been transliterated, whereas the names of those whose works have appeared solely in Persian have been. For transliteration of Arabic names and words, I have followed the system...

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