Tehran, , and the first novel in Persian written by an Iranian female fiction writer. Suvashun is set in Shiraz , in the last years of World War II, after the invasion by the Allied troops and the occupation of southern Iran by the British army. It chronicles, in 23 chapters, the life of a middle class landowning family in this period, when everyday life had been brought into turmoil by the presence of the occupying troops and the pressure they brought to bear on the economic and social fabrics of the society, with soaring food prices contributing to tension and strife in the local community. The story is narrated through the eyes of Zari, a happily married woman whose behavior, as she struggles to protect her family, runs counter to that of the traditionally marginalized Persian woman Sprachman, p. Much of what is not directly experienced by Zari is recounted through accounts of social visits and other encounters between Zari and her friends and relatives M.
|Published (Last):||22 May 2010|
|PDF File Size:||14.28 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||6.23 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
She attended missionary schools in Shiraz, and in moved to the capital of Tehran to study Persian literature at Tehran University, from which Danishvar also spelled Daneshvar would receive her doctorate.
Danishvar traveled to the United States in on a Fulbright Fellowship to study creative writing at Stanford University in California. Becoming a teacher, she later joined the faculty at Tehran University. Her subsequent works, including the short-story collection Shahri chun bihisht ; A City Like Paradise , show a longstanding commitment to prose fiction. While she has released a number of later works, including Bihki salam kunam? Portraying the turmoil of s Iran, its plot brings to the fore two contemporary social issues that intersect by the close of the novel.
A historical underpinning central to Savushun is the memory of the occupation of Iran by outside political powers during the Second World War. Because of its strategic location, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Iran faced numerous attempts by outsiders mainly Great Britain but also Tsarist Russia to exert control over its lands. While much of Asia and Africa fell under foreign control throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Iran and Afghanistan retained some independence.
In the case of Iran, this independence was largely due to the dynamics of Russian and British imperial expansion rather than to any formidable military resistance. Iran lay in a crucial position from the points-of-view of both these powers, so for either to gain a dominant share of control was to risk a major war. Russian interests in Iran differed from those of the British. For the Russians, who by the middle of the nineteenth century had gained control through military force of Baku, Georgia, Daghestan, Armenia, and much of eastern Transcaucasia, the motivation for expansion into Iran was the historical drive for a warm-water outlet.
For the British, at least prior to the discovery of oil, the overwhelming interest in Iran was its proximity to India. The British and Russian empires were thus engaged in a perpetual rivalry based on economic control and domination of Iran.
Not all Iranians suffered from this economic competition. However harmful it may have been to Iranians who labored to sell their products at a fair price, other Iranians profited, particularly at the royal court. The Iranian monarchy derived great financial reward by playing the two powers against each other, and the strategy meanwhile insured the survival of Iran as a country. The end result, however, was devastating to Iran: An ever higher percentage of its resources fell under outside control as more foreign concessions were granted, it grew more indebted to outside powers because of additional loans from them, and corruption in the Iranian government increased.
Meanwhile, the local population grew impoverished while harvests were allocated to foreign armies. If British soldiers wanted grain, they would approach the open silos. In the event of Iranian resistance, the soldiers often destroyed the silos and took what they needed for themselves. In the early s, the autocratic ruler Reza Shah initiated a vigorous program to modernize Iran on the model of European countries, minus their political systems.
The price for some of his most important economic policies, however, was stilling dictatorship until his abdication in during World War II in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The country, though advancing economically, remained stagnant politically. By incorporating Western technology and bureaucracy and by attempting to curtail the power of clerical leaders, Reza Shah tried to foster modernization.
But his regime did not embrace other aspects of Western society; it refused to allow political parties, free elections, or a free press. Ultimately this ideology would fail; instead of becoming a great and independent nation-state, Iran would find its fate bound up yet again with the more powerful and modern states of Britain, the Soviet Union , and later, the United States.
As Reza Shah set out to unify the nation and establish the mechanisms for a strong nation-state, he emphasized the need for a strong military. As part of his agenda of westernization, Reza Shah ordered the mass unveiling of women in The state saw the drive to emancipate women and elevate their status as a necessary element in creating a modern nation and countering the omnipotence of the mosque.
In forcing women to abandon the veil, Reza Shah hoped to create a symbol of modernization and westernization for the nation. There was a backlash, however, and not only from conservative groups.
For women, although the mandatory unveiling law took effect, true liberation was not fully realized due to the persistence of a fundamentally patriarchal view of them in government. It was this mix of countervailing forces that brought about the kind of display of character in Savushun , which features a woman who ends up asserting her individuality while at the same time remaining loyal to her husband.
For all his talk of independence, the fact remained that Iran under Reza Shah was still affected by the Western powers. The Iranian government sought relationships with both Germany and Britain, the latter of which continued to be the major power in Iran. British capital investment in the oil fields during the s overshadowed all Iranian investment in trade and industry. The British held one of the most lucrative oil concessions in Iranian history, and although Reza Shah temporarily cancelled the Anglo-Persian oil concession in , it was quickly revised and restored.
The chief interest of the British was to foster a pro-British regime that would act as a buffer to Russian expansionism and protect the western flank of the Indian empire.
By Germany had become the leading country in Iranian foreign relations and had figured significantly in helping to establish the Iranian industrial base, by, among other things, completing the Trans-Iranian Railroad.
Because of the large numbers of Iranians who had been educated in Germany prior to the war, Iran was viewed as a breeding ground for pro-German and even Nazi sentiment. The presence of German agents and the sympathies of the shah towards Germany were the two principal reasons given for the invasion and occupation by British and Soviet troops in , though there were others: opening a new corridor to Russia, safeguarding oil installations which had principally benefited Britain , and pre-empting any pro-Axis officers who might have been tempted to oust the unpopular shah and install a pro-German regime.
Allied pressure forced Reza Shah to abdicate in favor of his son in September , and he was deported and died in After his deportation, Iran was divided into three zones by the British and Russians. Soviet troops occupied the north; British troops, the south; and Tehran, along with some other important areas, remained unoccupied. After Reza Shah abdicated and his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was installed as monarch, a greater openness dawned in society.
By , a number of organizations and political groups had re-established themselves and had begun to make demands on the government.
Trade unions, most of them Marxist, reappeared. The revival of a free press led to the flourishing of newspapers, which were often advocates of political and economic change. For women, the removal of Reza Shah from power had contradictory effects.
Although there was greater openness, the occupation had detrimental effects on the population as well. Bread riots erupted in Tehran in the winter of because of an acute grain shortage, which was aggravated by hoarding and speculation and the diversion of food supplies to the occupying armies.
The result was widespread famine in many areas. In the north, encouraged by the Russians, minority peoples—the Azerbaijanis and Kurds—agitated for the right to use their own languages. New political parties, such as the Tudeh Communist Party , and leftist trade unions sprung up in other areas. The South saw tribal leaders, landlords, and religious leaders raise their voices, with British encouragement. By and , American advisers had come to Iran to assist in the transport of war supplies via the Trans-Iranian Railroad.
The desire for independence and a self-sufficient economy grew in the postwar years, but as the reality of global politics and the U. By , Iranians were anxious for greater independence and the ability to exercise control over their own oil resources.
Under the leadership of Mohammad Mosaddeq, Iran ended its relationship with Britain over its oil resources and called for the nationalization of the oil industry. The ultimate blow to Iranian independence came in when a CIA-directed coup toppled the popularly elected government of Mohammad Mosaddeq and reinstalled Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the son of Reza Shah, to power. The coup signaled the beginning of a brutal military dictatorship, wiping away the opportunities for independence and democratic reform.
The coup was not an isolated event, however; rather it was an extension of the pre and post-war designs of the superpowers. For many Iranians, the coup just repeated history; once again foreign invaders and collaborating Iranians would deny the people and nation the right to control their own destiny. They mingle with other members of the Shirazi elite and some foreign officers of armies that have occupied Iran for four years during the war.
There is small talk about politics. While Yusof takes a stand against the occupation, his older brother, Khan Kaka, hopes to influence members of the British army so they will help him land an appointment to the parliament.
In the novel, Shiraz is portrayed as a city robbed of its classical greatness and physically compromised by the effects of occupation. Although Iran has not experienced direct European colonialism, the novel alludes to a number of typically colonial institutions that have penetrated Iranian life, such as the missionary school that Zari attends and the missionary hospital in which her children were born.
Among the more notable European characters at the party is a Sergeant Zinger, who, says Zari, came to Iran 17 years earlier to sell Singer sewing machines to Iranian women. At the time the novel takes place, however, Zinger is a military officer in British uniform. A benevolent and well-respected landowner, Yusof refuses to sell his crops to the occupying armies.
He does not want to see the peasants who lease land from him and the people of Shiraz starve at the expense of British and Russian soldiers. In the blink of an eye, they make you all their dealers, errand boys, and interpreters. Living up to the image, he takes his rations of sugar and food coupons from the government and distributes them among the poor peasants in the villages. Much of the novel is narrated from her point of view.
She is preoccupied with her three children a boy and twin girls and is expecting a fourth. Yet she begins to question her own limited position as a woman in this patriarchal culture of hers. As Yusof leads and organizes a resistance against the foreign occupiers, she quietly does the work of women: mothering, providing charity to the less fortunate, and serving and supporting her husband. All the while she harbors an increasing number of questions about the suppression of women in the face of male domination.
She begins to view this gender-based suppression as parallel to Iranians living under the yoke of foreign domination. Her questioning of male dominance, however, occurs largely in private. Unlike Yusof, who is preoccupied with dramatic political and historical events of the day—that is, with plotting his dangerous resistance movement to the foreign occupation—Zari quietly submits. The last time Yusof heads out to the pastures to give food to the peasants rather than to the British army, he does not come home alive.
In her sorrow, Zari retreats into angry, violent thoughts and teeters on the edge of madness. Then, instead of becoming a silent, mournful widow, she emerges as an outspoken supporter of her husband and the cause for which he fought. She goes about telling others that he died because he wanted to keep the contents of the silos for his own farmhands. This marks Zari as a woman who, while remaining faithful to the family structure, far exceeds the role it ascribes to a woman.
The day of the funeral for Yusof, friends and mourners flood the house and yard. The least that can be done is to mourn him. Mourning is not forbidden, you know.
During his life, we were always afraid and tried to make him afraid. Now that he is dead, what are we afraid of anymore? Emboldened, she claims her voice and challenges her brother-in-law Khan Kaka, whom she finds hypocritical and self-interested. Ironically Zari herself becomes the sort of heroic figure that both her husband and the story of Siyavash envision, though in both these cases the ideal is a male.
At the end of the novel, her fate is uncertain, but in understanding Siyavash, she celebrates a part of her culture that eluded her at the British-run schools in which she studied Christian heroes and memorized Western poets such as John Milton Cook, p.
The suggestion is that finding her identity as a woman requires drawing on her national heritage and is furthermore related to finding her identity as an Iranian. Nobody can influence me, nobody.
Savushun (A Persian Requiem)
It is set in Shiraz, a town which evokes images of Persepolis and pre-Islamic monuments, the great poets, the shrines, Sufis, and nomadic tribes within a historical web of the interests, privilege and influence of foreign powers; corruption, incompetence and arrogance of persons in authority; the paternalistic landowner-peasant relationship; tribalism; and the fear of famine. The story is seen through the eyes of Zari, a young wife and mother, who copes with her idealistic and uncompromising husband while struggling with her desire for traditional family life and her need for individual identity. Within basic Iranian paradigms, the characters play out the roles inherent in their personalities. While Savushun is a unique piece of literature that transcends the boundaries of the historical community in which it was written, it is also the best single work for understanding modern Iran.
Set in Shiraz, in southern Iran, under British occupation during the Second World War, Savushun is the story of Zari, a young wife from one of the town's leading families. Caught up by forces beyond her control, she struggles to protect those she loves while finding an emotional and social space for herself. Despite their status as well-off land-owners, Zari's family lacks real security, as is illustrated by the governor's wife's appropriation as "gifts" first of a pair of earrings and then of her son's horse. Her life revolves around her children, her house and garden, and a few close friends, with charitable visits to a women's prison and an asylum her only regular outings. Her husband Yusof is an idealist and a nationalist, however, and is drawn into complex and uncertain networks of intrigue and political discontent. The visitors to their house include his brother, who supports collaboration with the British, but also hot-headed tribal leaders of the Black Hat nomads.
Savushun: A Novel About Modern Iran
Savushun A novel by Simin Daneshvar. It is set in Shiraz, a town which evokes images of Persepolis and pre-Islamic monuments, the great poets, the shrines, Sufis, and nomadic tribes within a historical web of the interests, privilege and influence of foreign powers; corruption, incompetence and arrogance of persons in authority; the paternalistic landowner-peasant relationship; tribalism; and the fear of famine. The story is seen through the eyes of Zari, a young wife and mother, who copes with her idealistic and uncompromising husband while struggling with her desire for traditional family life and her need for individual identity. Daneshvar's style is both sensitive and imaginative, while following cultural themes and metaphors. Within basic Iranian paradigms, the characters play out the roles inherent in their personalities. While Savushun is a unique piece of literature that transcends the boundaries of the historical community in which it was written, it is also the best single work for understanding modern Iran. Although written prior to the Islamic Revolution, it brilliantly portrays the social and historical forces that gave pre-revolutionary Iran its characteristic hopelessness and emerging desperation so inadequately understood by outsiders.