عنوان مقاله [English]
For its style and content, Nafsat-al-Masdur, the work of Shahab al-Din Mohammad Nasavi Khorandezi Zeydari, has always been considered as a canonical text in classical history and literature. In line with the new approaches in narratology and interdisciplinary studies, this work moves beyond the traditional classical studies of history and literature and enters into new domains of narratology and contemporary criticism. Genre and narratological studies of Nafsat-al-Masdur present different genres embedded in the work. These genres, such as autobiography, epistolary, and nonfiction, are intertextually intermingled in a historical context and problematize simplistic literary categorizations of Nafsat-al-Masdur. Also, different academic readings, in line with the narration and aesthetics tradition of the sixth century (S. H.), have degraded Nasavi’s peculiar narration style in restating the events to an insignificant piece of literature and deformed his primary objectives. The present article studies the generic and narrative structure of Nafsat-al-Masdur in an attempt to categorize the work as Ekhvaniyat and claims that although it has earned historical recognition due to its treatment of important people and events in the Mongol era, it cannot and should not be regarded as a multi-genric work.
Nafsat-al-Masdur is Shahab al-Din Nasavi Zeydari’s narrative of his last years of service in Jalal-al-din’s court, which coincides with his dismissal and his refuge in Malek Mozaffar Ayoubi’s court. He narrates these events to Sa’d al-Dowleh in the form of letters. Nasavi affirms that his work covers only parts of his life. It implies that studying the book and the structure through which he narrates “his events” is only possible through the study of the genre it belongs to. Of note here is that this article regards genre as a process between the author and the reader, in which the reader regards the author as a reliable narrator. Although the author claims that this work is an autobiography, its epistolary form and its apostrophes categorize it as Ekhvaniyat, a subcategory of private correspondence. It must be added that the author deliberately disregards the categorization; this is also reflected in his purpose of writing his text.
Nafsat-al-Masdur, which is the account of the narrator’s pains and sorrows, raises a question in the reader’s mind: What was Nasavi’s purpose in narrating his personal sorrows? And why does he insist on preserving these painful memories in the form of a biographical chronicle and the style of a lengthy letter? The present article employs an elective approach that consists of typology, narratology, and historiography to answer these questions. The present study aims to show a new horizon in reading literary-historic works and discuss whether the classic historical works of literature can move beyond the subcategory of literature and become an independent genre in its own right. It takes into account whether or not the dominance of literary narration and its divers structures, combined with presuppositions and expectations in reading literary texts, can prevent its generic automony.
The present article is a descriptive-analytical research with an integrative approach containing typology and narratology; it aims to probe into the necessity of re-reading the historical interpretations of Nafsat-al-Masdur.
4.Discussion and Analysis
In line with narratological structures and characteristic features in typological and generic studies, this article reads Nafsat-al-Masdur as private letters or Ekhvaniyat. In other words, it looks at the work as the narrator’s chronicle writing, in a process heavily influenced by personal conception of history. However, the author’s private thoughts and ideas in chronicle writing gradually fade away and become insignificant. That is why this literary-narratological work can be viewed as a text that exemplifies an umbrella genre which incorporates sub-genres.
If we consider the dialogue between the author and the reader in a literary genre as a generic contract (Dubrow, 2012: 48), this typology, we can assume, interferes with the understanding of the author’s primary intentions in the process of composition. The interaction between the author and the reader, designated only by the genre, has been underscored in the work by a number of influential academicians who have carefully studied and taught it. Most studies have regarded Nafsat-al-Masdur as a biographical, historical, or factional work; however, this study emphatically rejects its categorization as a biographical narrative. Also, narrative features such as point of view, characterization, chronology, centralization, etc., negate any categorization of the work as a manifestation of a specific literary genre. The last section of the study discusses the genre of epistolary novel and the subgenre of Ekhvaniyat.
Contrary to the author’s intentions, scholars have regarded Nafsat-al-Masdur as a historical work. In Sirat-e Jalal-al-Din, Nasavi explicitly informs the reader of the historicity and the historical content of the work (Nasavi, 1986: 3-6). However, in Nafsat-al-Masdur, the writer employs the term ‘Nafsat-al-Masdur’ to address ‘what is within.’ In the work, disruptive content and narrative inconsistencies signify memory recollection, which thematically relate the title to the structure of the narrative. The improvised renderings of events divulge an attitude that can pass as authoritative or clerical. In fact, the aesthetic aspect of Nafsat-al-Masdur is not stimulated by diary or biography writing but by the genre, type of letter writing, and the Diwani schools of the author’s tune. As a result, contrary to traditional autobiographies, it is devoid of confession or character development. Due to the multifaceted nature of the work, the real intentions of the author have been usually overlooked.
We should not fail to notice that this work uncovers a part of Iran’s history. However, a narratological analysis of the historical discourse in Nafsat-al-Masdur proves that Nasavi has no intention of writing a historical chronicle. It is through Nasavi’s narration and characterization that history and historical records gain significance. The author recreates history and hints at hypertextual references, so that the reader is presented with a history which is bases on the author’s personal events. Nevertheless, these renderings should not be limited to any generic categorization. Nasavi’s memoir has now become a piece of history, through which we can acquire knowledge about the social structures and ideologies of the people of a particular era. And we can study our history from the narrator’s social status and personal perspective, even though this reading was not recognized in Nasavi’s era. This is partly due to the fact that he had to rewrite a great part of Nafsat-al-Masdur in another book. Also, the historical readings of Nafsat-al-Masdur all took it for granted that it should be categorized as an academic text and subcategorized as a literary-historical book.
This categorization, one way or another, finds it way into the readings of Nafsat-al-Masdur. Of note here is that the literary and aesthetic qualities of the book are influenced by the conventions governing the genre of the epistolary novel, rather than by its historical or literary narrative structures. It must be added that the genius of the writer as well as his borrowings from other genres such as biography or history do not entail generic innovation or the introduction of a new genre.
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