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Friday 26 October: 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Ancient India and Iran Trust, 23 Brooklands Avenue, CB2 8BG

This talk looks at the extremes in the expressions of literary criticism. The Anvar-e Sohayli is a fifteenth-century prose version of the fables of Kalila and Dimna. It was hailed for many years as the most accomplished example of elegant literary Persian, not only in the Persophone world, but also by Western Orientalists. Suddenly, at the turn of the twentieth century, criticism swung to the other extreme and presented it as the worst possible Persian ever produced. Telling the story of this rise and fall, this talk looks at the tyranny of literary criticism and tries to unravel the reasons for this radical change in opinion.

Christine van Ruymbeke is Soudavar Senior Lecturer in Persian Studies at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge, and a Trustee of the Ancient India and Iran Trust ( She works on classical (or pre-modern) Persian literature, with a special focus on the masnavis of Nezami of Ganja (12th c. AD) and the Persian versions of the Kalila and Dimna fables (12th-16th c. AD). She has published extensively on these and other topics related to Persian literature. Her new monograph, Kashefi’s Anvar-e Sohayli: Rewriting Kalila and Dimna in Timurid Herat, was published in 2016. A previous book, Science and Poetry in Medieval Persia: The Botany of Nizami’s Khamsa, received the World Award for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in February 2009.

Booking Information

Telephone number:
01223 766766

Booking required


Hearing loop, Step-free access, Accessible toilet

Additional Information

Age: Adults, Talk, Arrive on time, Free