Poetry. Middle Eastern Studies. Translated from the Persian by Bill Wolak and Mahmood Karimi-Hakak. Bilingual Edition. Love Me More Than the Others opens a window into the cultural diversity of late Qajar Iran. Iraj Mirza's poems transport readers directly into the male homosocial world of upper-crust privileged government bureaucrats, at least some of whom, like Iraj Mirza himself, were intensely critical of mainstream cultural values. A valuable bilingual [Persian-English] resource for students as well as enthusiasts of Persian literature and history.Iraj Mirza is sure to surprise you if you only associate Persian poetry with the exalted, mystical works of Hafez, Rumi, and Attar. Iraj Mirza's Divan has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Revolution. The controversial subject matter of Iraj's poems has caused them to be avoided at all costs, disparaged out of hand, dismissed as an insult to the nation—even by sophisticated, well-read Iranians. Make no mistake about it, Iraj Mirza is dangerous, especially to the current regime. Iraj Mirza is a trickster, a magician, a philanderer; he's a character out of Melville's The Confidence Man. However, unlike most magicians and perhaps most characteristic of his voice, Iraj enjoys explaining his own tricks, illusions, slight of hand, dodges, seductions, lies, and sweet-talking. Iraj will show you how he cupped the cards that you chose from the deck, or he'll explain precisely how he managed to seduce his latest conquest. His writing is like a breath of fresh mountain air in the Qajar period. The uniqueness of Iraj derives from how he juxtaposes the traditional use of form, rhythm, and rhyme while surprising the reader with jarring colloquial language and unconventional subject matter. He is an hilarious satirist, an engagé secularist, a witness, a profligate manipulator, a tender sentimentalist, and a poignantly lyric poet. The key to Iraj's success, as with Alexander Pope, is the urbanity of his wit, his self-deprecating humor, and sometimes the outlandishness of his arguments. Iraj composes some poems that are so controversial and challenging that they remain difficult for every kind of reader to accept—devout and secular, women and men, gay and straight. In fact, anyone who reads his poetry will feel confounded, disoriented, or uncomfortable somewhere in the Divan. The religiously devout are offended because Iraj attacks the veil; he employs language that is considered obscene, mocks mullahs and sheiks, and praises drinking. In fact, his anti-clerical satires, as well as his other controversial subjects, put his life in danger because he was considered such a secular freethinker.
Iraj Mirza Jalalu'l-Mamalek was born in 1874 in Tabriz. He had an excellent education at the House of Sciences and Techniques in Tabriz and became fluent in several languages including French, Russian, Arabic, and Turkish. He married at the age of fifteen, and by nineteen he had lost both his wife and his father. Subsequently, he was offered the position of court poet that his father had held. Later, he abandoned the court and worked for the government. Iraj's fluency in French and Russian and his trip to Europe deepened two of his unshakeable beliefs: that Iran needed to modernize and that a crucial part of that modernization process included the emancipation of women. During the aftermath of the First World War, Iraj was an advisor to the American financial mission, which he accompanied on several inspection tours throughout the country. Near the end of his life, Iraj moved back to Tehran, where he died at the age of fifty-two on March 14, 1926. Iraj was buried in the Zahir-Dowleh Cemetery located between Darband and Tajrish in Shemiran, north Tehran.Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Artistic Director of Mahak International Inc. and President of Festival Cinema Invisible (CinemaInvisible.com), is a poet, writer, translator, theater director, and filmmaker. His literary credits include five plays, two books of poetry, several translations, and numerous articles and interviews both in English and Persian. He is the recipient of Raymond C. Kennedy (2005) and Fulbright (2009) scholastic awards. Mahmood has produced, directed choreographed and designed, over 60 stage plays, dance performances, and films. His artistic works have participated in several national and international film and theatre festivals in America, Europe, and his native Iran, and have gained him a number of certificates and awards. Professor Karimi-Hakak has taught at CUNY, Towson, and Southern Methodist universities in America, as well as universities in Belgium and Iran. At present, he serves as Professor of CreaAuthor City: IRN