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Hedayat’s Nationalism and his Concepts of Folklore

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Chapter Summary

The present paper is a hasty investigation of Sādeq Hedāyat’s concept of folklore as a source of knowledge about the Iranians’ pre-Islamic customs and beliefs, however corrupted with the devastating influence of the strangers. In the introduction to Hedāyat’s Nirangestān (1933), his approach to the popular culture of Iran, viewed as a collection of “prejudices”, is sharply dualistic. He idealizes its elements of allegedly “Aryan” origin and condemns those, which have been introduced by the non-Iranian, in particular Semitic, peoples. Hedāyat’s understanding of folklore evolved in the course of the years, that can be seen in his “General project for the study of the folklore of a region” (1945), but even in this work the ethnic and linguistic diversity as a valuable element of Persian culture seem to pass unnoticed.Since the time when this short paper had been written, Ulrich Marzolph’s substantial entry on Sādeq Hedāyat as folklorist appeared in Encyclopaedia Iranica, bringing much first-hand, well documented information on the subject.



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