The Iranian Constitutional Revolution and the Plays of Mirza-zadeh Eshghi

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Institutional Affiliation : 
The Centre for the Great Encyclopeadia of Islam
Academic Bio: 
Ali Miransari was born in Tehran in 1958 and received his BA and MA in Persian Literature from Tehran University, and has been working at the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia since 1996, and at the National Archives Organization and the Encyclopaedia of Iran since 2000. His research interests include contemporary and early classic Persian literature as well as dramatic Persian literature. He has published more than 150 articles in the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia, the Encyclopaedia of Iran and in numerous Persian periodicals in the fields of Persian literature and the history of Iran. His book publications include Dramatic works of Mir-Zadeh Eshghi (2006); Arj-Nameh Bahar (2006); Aiine-ye Mashrooteh (2006); Mikadoo-Nameh (2006); Records of Iran's contemporary literary notables (5 volumes) (1997-2004); Selected records of drama in Iran (2003); Letters of Malak-o Shoara Bahar(2001); Shahnameh, Bahar's commentary on the Shahnameh, edited introduced and indexed by Ali Miransari (2001); Two travel accounts by Nima Youshij (2001); Bibliography of Nima Youshij (1996); Bibliography of Attar (1995); Bibliography of Nasir Khosrow (1994); Bibliography of Khajou Kirmani (1991). At peresent he is the head of Persian literature for the Encyclopedia of Iran (Danishnama-yi Iran) at the Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

Mirza-zadeh Eshghi, a scion of a family with constitutionalist leanings, was born in 1894, in Hamedan. Influenced by his family and by the intellectual climate of his native city, the young Mirza-zadeh Eshghi became a constitutionalist himself, while the Western-style education which he received at the Alliance School of Hamedan, brought out modernist and reformist tendencies in his literary works.
Following the suppression of Muhammad Ali Shah Qajar’s coup d’état (1907 – 1909), new political currents, often contrary to the ideals and principles of the Constitutional Revolution, began to gain ground. These tendencies were often discussed by Asar-e Enghelab and Jamaliyyeh, two local social-democratic periodicals, which showed a growing awareness of this drifting apart from the spirit of the Constitutional Revolution. Mirza-zadeh Eshghi, who shared these concerns, decided to write a play about the failure of the revolution. In 1915 he wrote Jamshid-e Nakam (Unsuccessful Jamshid), whose central character, Jamshid, represented the new social class which had arisen in Iran, and which was far removed from the ideals and aspirations of the constitutionalists. In 1919 Mirza-zadeh Eshghi decided to stage the play in Tehra, but was prevented from doing so by the police, who also confiscated the script. In 1924, three years into the reign of Reza Shah, and ten years after writing Jamshid e Nakam, having witnessed political and social transformations in Iran over a decade, Mirza-zadeh Eshghi realised that the Constitutional Revolution had run its course. He decided to write a new play entitled Se Tableau Maryam (Maryam: Three Portraits), whose central character, Maryam--a symbol of the Constitutional Revolution-- is assaulted and dies. 
While Se Tableau Maryam has been published many times in Iran, very little was known about the first play (Jamshid e Nakam), which was presumed lost. In 2004, while carrying out research in the archives of the Sazman-e Asnad-e Milli in Tehran, I found a sealed envelope among the documents of the Tehran Police, dating to the Qajar period. On opening the envelope, I discovered, nearly ninety years after it was written, the full text of Jamshid e Nakam. In 2006, I published Jamshid e Nakam along with the other works of Mirza-zadeh Eshghi.
The present paper analyzes the two plays from a literary and social point of view, and discussed their reception. It also addresses the question which play is more successful in representing the socio-political conditions of its time.

Academic Discipline : 
Persian Literature
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