Student Centre Information Desk
+31 (0)71 527 80 11
Professor J.A. Silk
+31 (0)71 527 25 10
Co-ordinator of Studies
Dr. N.A.N.M. van Os
+31 (0)71 527 29 37
“Poetry is the most tangible icon of the identity of the Persian people.”
“I am a specialist of the New Persian language, literature and culture. Leiden University has a long history in studing New Persian. Shortly after the foundation of the University in 1575 Persian was being studied here, and masterpieces from Persian literature were being translated.Even today Leiden has an eminent reputation in this field, not only in Persian-speaking countries but also in Europe and America.
Persian is currently spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and parts of Central Asia, but for a long time it was the cultural language of a much greater area. Until the nineteenth century Persian was a cultural language of India and a large part of the Ottoman Empire. When we talk of ‘Persian’, we are referring generally to this large area where Persian language and culture are or were important.
I am fascinated by the beauty of the Persian language. Poetry is the most tangible icon of the identity of the Persian people. Unlike in Egypt, for example, Persian kept its own language and culture after the invasion of the Islamic Arabs in Persian cultural areas.
Poetry is a bearer of Persian culture in all its facets. Astronomy and medical treatises were expressed in poetic form and even now we see on many ceremonial occasions, such as births and marriages, that classical Persian poems are recited. A TV presenter of a game show in Iran can readily recite a classical poem. Poets and writers have prominent status in Iran.”