Contemporary Iranian literature is formed from the Qadjair era and continues its evolution until the 1950s. However, the small number of Iranian women writers during this period did not allow a real feminine literary current to emerge.


The figure of women and women writers in Iran


The first steps of women in literature


Contemporary Iranian literature is formed from the Qadjair era and continues its evolution until the 1950s. However, the small number of Iranian women writers during this period did not allow a real feminine literary current to emerge. Social and family constraints did not favor the flourishing of the feminine literary fiber. Those who had the ambition to write avoided handing the pen for fear of not being up to it, and those who ventured to write were often hidden behind male pseudonyms - a kind of guarantee of freedom of expression. The publication of their works was also not without difficulty. Their participation in literary circles was closely linked to their social success. At the beginning of the twentieth century, when educated women gathered in committee tried to gain rights for the betterment of their condition, they aroused violent reactions and suffered multiple threats. These obstacles have not prevented them from setting up private schools for girls, women's rights foundations and journals addressing specific issues affecting them.

 

Maryam Amid Mozayan-ol-Saltaneh

 

After the First World War, journals and schools became the two main sources of a certain autonomy and intellectual life for Iranian women. Ms. Hassan Khan Kahal created Danesh, the first women's magazine, in 1910. After her, Maryam Amid Mozayan-ol-Saltaneh, director of the Mozayaneh School, published the magazine Shokoufeh in Tehran between 1913 and 1918. In her wake, different journals published for women began to appear in different cities of Iran. In Isfahan for example, then to Mashhad, Rasht, Shiraz and Bandar Anzali. One of the most important periodicals of this period was entitled Alam-e Nassvan (The World of Women), and was published between 1920 and 1934 under the leadership of Mrs. Navabeh Safavi. This magazine appeared every two months in Teheran in thirty-eight pages, and its main themes were medicine, fashion and literature in prose and poetry. In a way, this review presented itself as a response to women's illiteracy and social problems. It had such an impact that other magazines of the time decided in their turn to devote a section to women.

From the 1920s, women poets began to make themselves known to the general public by evoking the themes and claims of the literature of the time. One of the most modern essayists of this time was undoubtedly Bibi Estar Abadi, who published Ma'ayyeb-ol Redjal (The Defects of Men), a kind of essay in favor of the evolution of the relationship between men and women.

Simin Daneshvar

 

Iranian women's literature of the 1940s
 

The presence of women in literature and their connection with this artistic and social field in the early 1940s is one of the manifestations of profound change in Iran. It was a period of transition that produced extreme feelings, between admiration and hatred. It was at this moment that the modern era of female writing really began. In the beginning, women only imitated the works written by men while marking a particular interest in morals and ethics. They regarded literature as a means or a weapon to instruct their fellow men and to warn them of certain potential dangers. This trend lasted some twenty years, before a notable change in the form and substance of their writings appeared in the early 1960s.

In the late 1960s, Simin Daneshvar revolutionized Persian literature with his masterpiece, Suvashun. This novel was one of the most read at the time. The choice of a narrator, of a woman, and not of a man as the time would have it, made the most of the success of this work. Daneshvar adopts the same method of narration in his other works, including the novel "To whom to say hello? (Be ki salam konam) and the novel The Island of Uncertainty (Jazireh-ye Sargardani). In Daneshvar, the narrator establishes a strong link between the reader and the work while the main characters, those who advance events in history, are men.

After Simin Daneshvar, there were many women writers who dared to write and publish their novels and short stories, including Shahrnouch Parsipour, Ghazaleh Alizadeh, Mahshid Amirshahi, Monirou Ravanipour, Goli Taraghi and many others whose works were generally well received by critics and the public. According to studies of the literary production of Iranian women writers in the contemporary world, the evolution of the situation and status of women in literature before and after the Revolution is considered significant. In the 1960s, there were about twenty-five women writers in Iran, whereas currently there are 3 women writers for 5 men writers. It seems, therefore, that the literature has paved the way for the struggle of women in a society that can still be considered patriarchal.

 

Zoya Pirzad

 

Before the 1979 Revolution
 

Shahrnouch Parsipour was only sixteen when she published her short stories at different publishers. "Touba and the meaning of the night" (Touba va mana-ye shab), "Women without men" (Zanan-e bedoun-e mardan), "The dog and the long winter" (Sag va zemestan-e boland) are part of his best writings. She illustrates, in her works, the sickly atmosphere of the condition of abandoned and unsupported women. Her works have a particular originality because the elements and the characters treated are inspired at the same time, of the Persian mythology and the contemporary reality of their life.

Ghazaleh Alizadeh is another successful writer who began writing in 1976 with her first novel, "After Summer" (Bad Az Tabestan). A year later, in 1977, she published a collection of three short stories entitled The Untouchable Journey (Safar-e Nāgozashtani) and in 1991, a two-volume novel, The House of Edrisi (Khaneh-ye Edrisi-ha) to which she owes his fame. His characters are solitary women and men who have withdrawn from the world because of mental disorders. She believes that we should not see the problems of women from a single angle and that we must put things into perspective by honestly reflecting on the negative and positive sides of both genres.

Mahshid Amirshahi, for his part, began his literary life in France with his novel In Captivity (Dar Hasr) before publishing In Travel (Dar Safar). The first is an autobiography in which she recounts her memories in Iran, and the second shows her life after her arrival in France. She also wrote Sar bibi khanum, Afternoon (Bad az zohr) and In the first person singular (Be sigheh-ye down shakhs-e mofrad). Women, in her works, have original personalities: one is a peasant woman without complexity, while the other is politically engaged, modern and intellectual.

Monirou Ravanipour is one of the writers before the Revolution, but all his works were published from the 80s. His travels in the southern regions of Iran were the backbone of his first novel. It fed mainly on the customs and customs of the Iranian tribes, and especially the condition of women in these marginal countries. In Satan's Stones (Sang-Hye Sheytan), she tells the story of a young girl's return to her hometown in one of the southern villages of Iran. His works are tinged with an atmosphere that is both nostalgic and realistic. She also wrote other novels namely Kanizou, Ahl-e Ghargh, The Heart of Lead (Del-e Foulad), The Beggar by the Fire (Koli Kenat-e Atash), and some news.

Goli Taraghi is one of the best-known contemporary Iranian writers who has devoted herself to literature from an early age. Her first novel, I am also Che Guevara (Man ham Che Guevara hastam) has a highly social theme. Then, she continued her activities by moving towards the theme of immigration in France. Her heroines are mostly mothers, wives and daughters. They are neither different nor original. Taraghi speaks in her own way of Iranian-led tradition and traditionalist society led by men.

 

After the Revolution


After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the production of women increased considerably in quality and quantity. According to Shahrnouch Parsipour, the experience of the Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war projected women into the literary, social and economic arena. During this period, literary production experienced an unprecedented boom, so that for example in 1991, the publication of novels, short stories and women's literary works was multiplied by thirteen compared to the previous decade.

Zoya Pirzad, a writer of Armenian origin, began her literary career in the 90s with a collection including the news "As every night" (Mesl-e hameh-ye asr-ha), "The astringent taste of persimmon" ( Ta'm-e gas-e khormalou), "A day before Easter" (Yek ruz mandeh be eide pauk), which met with great success. In the 2000s, she published J'éteins les lumières (Tcheragh-hara man khamouch mikonam). Her heroine, Clarisse, a traditional woman living a tormented life, is abused by other women in the family. But this rhythm is broken with the arrival of new neighbors. This new family plays a big role in the evolution of her personality by making her discover traits she did not know before. Pirzad won the prize for the best novel at the Golshiri Festival in 2000. In her other novel We'll get used to (Adat mikonim), the character of the heroine is strangely similar to that of Clarisse, as if these two characters were only a. But this time, it's her encounter with a man who changes the course of his life.

Fariba Vafi is another novelist after the Revolution whose novel My bird (Parandeh-ye man) has won several literary awards. This story revolves around a central theme, the family home. Her narrator is a tenant who becomes the owner of an apartment of fifty square meters. The story depicts the tension in a couple for the sale of the apartment. In her works, the family and the role of women occupy an important place.

Farkhondeh Aghai also won the Golshiri Prize for hes masterpiece "He taught it to Satan and burned it" (Be sheytan amoukht va souzand) in 2005.  This explains the story of an Armenian married to a Muslim and her desire to learn, to evolve, to have an easy life, to get what she wants and to fight for.

The first collection of short stories by Mahsa Moheb Ali, titled The Voice (Seda) was published in the late 1990s. Four years later, she presents her novel The Gray Curse (Nefrin-e khakestari) but what made her to really be known is her romantic set Being in Footnote (Asheghiat dar Pardvaraghi) which has been awarded the Golshiri Prize and the Press Critics Prize. Then she published Do not worry (Negaran Nabash) at Tchechmeh editions (the book has recently reached its eleventh edition). She is interested in the worldview of the new generation and tells about her situation and her problems in this novel.

 

Finally, Shiva Arastoui, author of the news "I came for a cup of tea with my daughter" (Amadeh Boudam Ba Dokhtaram Tchai Bokhoram), "The Sun and the Moon" (Aftab Mahtab), "I'm not a girl" ( Man dokhtar nistam) and novels such as Bibi Shahrzad and Afioun. She won the Golshiri Prize and the Yalda Award in 2003. The situation of women and their relationship with the outside and inside world is of particular concern to her. Men and their presence occupy a secondary place in her works, and the heroines of her stories have similar characteristics, suggesting the existence of similarities between her narrative heroines and herself.



According to the Iranian publishers, the most read novels of the past two decades have mostly been written by women. These are linear novels without complexity, but which attract the reader by their beauty of style and accessibility. They bring their readers into a nostalgic atmosphere and reveal the lives of middle-class or "oppressed" women, who are eager to fight with their country's society, history and culture, and who seek truths. "feminine" solutions, highlighted by a feminine look and intended for a female readership.