Emerson in Iran is the first full-length study of Persian influence in the work of the seminal American poet, philosopher, and translator, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Extending the current trend in transnational studies back to the figural origins of both the United States and Iran, Roger Sedarat’s insightful comparative readings of Platonism and Sufi mysticism reveal how Emerson managed to reconcile through verse two countries so seemingly different in religion and philosophy. By tracking various rhetorical strategies through a close interrogation of Emerson’s own writings on language and literary appropriation, Sedarat exposes the development of a latent but considerable translation theory in the American literary tradition. He further shows how generative Persian poetry becomes during Emerson’s nineteenth century, and how such formative effects continue to influence contemporary American poetry and verse translation.
“This is the book, on this subject, I have been waiting for. Indeed, Sedarat goes further than satisfying curiosity about familiar but undertheorized figures, texts, and traditions, he also reveals ones that I didn’t know I should know and care about. His prose is at once lucid and learned. He manages, with great tact and insight, to move from poet to poet, poem to poem, line to line, across time and tradition, so that the reader remains oriented to the idea at hand, and, moreover, capable of grasping its relevance to the project and its broader significance for our thinking about the legacy of Emerson’s writing and thought.” — David LaRocca, author of Emerson’s English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor
Roger Sedarat is Associate Professor of English at Queens College, City University of New York. His books include Haji as Puppet: An Orientalist Burlesque and Ghazal Games: Poems.