The Feminine Voice of Khorasan in Alizadeh’s Literature
The moon’s the Prince, Bokhora is the sky
Rudaki, 10th Century Persian Poet
From the time of Rudaki to the contemporary poetry of Akhavan Sales , khorasan’s literature has been famous for its extravagant use of diction, elevated tone and authentic language, in poets like Manuchehri the descriptions are extremely rich and abundant , Shahnameh is a revival of Persian Mythology and chronicles of the kings and in Contemporary poetry Akhavan Sales experiences all these within his free verse. The off-spring of such a long-established literature can be the feminine voice of Ghazaleh Alizadeh and in this lecture I would try to shed light on multi-faceted literary values of her Great book “The House of the Edrisis”.
“The House of the Edrisis” is a dystopian novel, an allegory depicting the age of decline, the book starts with some sentences very much like Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina:
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“No household experiences upheaval of a sudden. Dust settles softly in the cracks in the wood, in the folds of the sheets, in the cupboard doors, and the pleats of the curtains, in expectation that a wind will blow into the house through an open door and stir the scattered particles of dust, liberating them from the places where they lurk.”
“The House of The Edrisis”
“The House of the Edrisis” depicts the life of a family in the process of a change, A manor house is occupied by government militia and common people , the house ends up in confiscation, some die, some go to exile and others put up with the new situation…Mrs Edrisi lives with her grandson Vahhab and daughter Legha in a secluded mansion, an armed group who is called firing-squad band attack them and occupy their place, groups of people and strangers take refuge in the house; some are recognised to be common people and others are called spies. Vahhab who is a very educated young man is obsessed with the memory of his dead aunt Rahila, among the people who enter the house is a young actress who reminds Vahhab of his aunt . Vahhab falls in love with her,...Roxana turns out to be the spy of firing-squad band and helps them to loot the treasure in the house, the residents of the house leave and in a reversal of fortune their lives change dramatically,..
The title implicitly refers to prophet Idris and Shahab al-din Sohrawardi's theosophy who is the founder of Persian wisdom and illumination philosophy and a follower of prophet Idris, the title has also some significance in secret societies of mystics. Alizadeh had studied politics and as if the novel is giving credit to the old system of thought in ancient Persia ”حکمت خسروانی و اندیشه ی ایرانشهری” which is based on a system of hierarchy and the virtues of great Persian kings with all their Godlike figures on the earth.
The book's success is mainly due to its polyphonic structure of juxtaposing highly prestigious literature of Khorasan and street talk used by commoners. Some layers of intertextuality with Persian classical poetry are seen. There are many quotations of Persian classical poetry in the novel, the syntax structure in many dialogues of Mrs Edrisi , Younes, Ghobad and Vahhab reminds you of Persian classics and the literature of Khorasan but this doesn’t prevent the novelist of representing diverse voices in the society: while Mrs Edrisi speaks decent classy Persian , Shoukat who is a representative of labour party speaks vulgar Persian , speaks a lot of slangs. Characters like Luba, Rahila and Roxana have been created quite parallel as if one’s life has been reincarnated in the next generation, they are all from the species of talented and beautiful women, die young , experience unrequited love and live an eccentric life. Rahila ‘s room with all her white satin dresses and perfumes and the smell of lilacs and jasmine has been described in a surrealistic way , much like Sierva Maria in Marquez’ OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS , in which the character casts a spell on others’ life after her death. Roxana resembles Nina in Chekhuf’s THE SEA GULL and Luba has been depicted just like a fairy tale. Younes is a poet who has travelled a lot and experienced adventures in his life , he has got a very charismatic character. He knows much about alchemy, magic and occult. Lots of minor characters in season three are trapped in a magic web . Rahila’s room and the treasure in her room and Mrs Edrisis’ precious ring are other symbolic elements of the book. The way the author describes the house is very much like the descriptions in Gothic novels, the character Ghobad sounds like somebody out of this world.
The setting in the book is not specified , one might think the place is the Greater Khorasan , the region expands from Greece to Kashmir , as if the setting is the great ancient world or perhaps the Great Mesopotamia. In the beginning of novel Vahhab mentions the city of Nisa and the setting written at the beginning of the book is Ashkabad which was the capital city of Ashkanid dynasty in ancient Persia . Does the whole novel refer to a great land which was once called Great Persia,…?