From Iran to the West
The Shahnameh remained a great gallery of images from Persian history, from which later poets could draw, and it has been using as the most important source for all Persian literature during the centuries. It is “the Book of the Books” as Mohammad-Ali Eslami Nodooshan, one of the most celebrated contemporary Iranian writers, described from which the national and universal motifs and themes emanates. The great Persian poems like Nezami, Sa’adi, Hafez, Omar Khayyam and, in general, all Persian people had used and still using it as their main source. It is like a springhead which irrigates all Persian literature and history. Whatever you read and whenever you step is full of the intoxicating fragrance of this always-running spring. This elixir of life not only has aromatized Persian literature but also has granted its immortality to Persian art including painting, cinema, and so on.
Shahnameh (the Book of the Kings) found its way to the West by Sir William Jones who translated a few parts of the book into English in 1774. While he compared Ferdowsi with Homer, both extraordinary men, and advocated the former for being called the Homer of the East, the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), which he termed "a glorious monument of Oriental genius and learning" as the Iliad, and Rostam as the Hercules of the book. He asserted that Shahnameh “possessed in the highest degree that fruitful invention and that creative genius, which is the soul of poetry” (Andrews, Folsom, and Bowen, 156-157). Since then, the translations of Shahnameh, in different languages appeared one after another. Some scholars who rendered this literary and cultural masterpiece are Joseph Champion with an abridged selection in style of Pope’s Iliad (in 1785), Turner Makaan (in 1829), James Atkinson (in 1832), Helen Zimmern (1882), Arthur and Edmond Warner with their complete English translation of the book in verse in nine volumes (between 1905-1925), Reuben Levy (in 1967), and Dick Davis, who is described as “our pre-eminent translator from the Persian “ by Washington Post, who did an outstanding literary work (in 2006) just to name a few English translator of Shahnameh.
Edmund Gosse, English translator, literary historian, and critic who introduced the work of Henrik Ibsen and other continental European writers to English readers, in his book Firdausi in one of his poetry collection named Exile and other poems published in 1885 composed a long poem about Ferdowsi and Soltan Mahmmoud’s ingratitude toward him.
Louis L’Amor, American author and the first novelist awarded a U.S.A Congressional gold medal, mentioned Ferdowsi, Simurgh, Zal, and Rostam in his historical novel called Walking Drum.
Theodor Nöldeke, the German orientalist, the winner of the prize of the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, and one of the leading Iranian scholars of his day who did influential studies about Iran described Shahnameh as a monument “unrivaled among other nations...