Customs and Manners of the Women of Persia, and their domestic superstitions. Translated from the original Persian manuscript . . .
by KULSUM NANI [Nah'nah]; ATKINSON, James A. (1780-1852).
London:: Printed for the Oriental Translation Fund . . . and sold by John Murray. . . 1832., 1832. 8vo. xviii, , 93, , 8 pp. Lithographic frontispiece of "A Persian Girl" sketched on stone by the translator, printed by O. Huthmaneal[!?]. With a slip, inserted, and with a 7-page list of works printed for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. Original boards, rebacked with new spine label. Institutional bookplate, Quaritch notation (sold by them); ownership names of W. [Wilberforce] Eames (1855-1937) and Wm. Birrian[?]. Fine copy. SCARCE. First English translation. The original authorship has been attributed to Jamal al-Din Muhammad ibn Hsayn Khvansari by Kh. Mushar [fl.1713?]: cf. his Mua'lifin-i kutub-i chapi-i Farsi va 'Arabi, v. 2 (1962) column 383. This slim volume features a lithographic frontispiece drawn by Atkinson, faithfully depicting a "Persian Girl" in traditional dress, with a lute and hookah by her side, her hair adorned. ENCYCLOPAEDIA IRANICA: Dr. James A. Atkinson, (1780-1852), a notable British orientalist, a scholar of the Persian language and literature, and the translator of Ferdowsi's Rostam o Sohrab, Ne?ami's Layli o Majnun, the popular Persian romance of ?atem ?a'i, and others. Atkinson was born in Durham on 9 March 1780, and demonstrated early on an exceptional talent for versification. He studied medicine in Edinburgh and London, and was appointed assistant surgeon in the Bengal establishment in 1805. He studied Persian in his free time and in 1810 began his verse translation of the story of Sohrab. The work was published as Soohrab, a Poem in 1814 in Calcutta where a year earlier Lord Minto, the Governor General, had appointed Atkinson to the post of assistant assay master at the mint, a position he retained until 1828, except for two brief intervals, in 1818 when he took up the deputy chair of Persian in Fort William College, and the period 1826-27 which he spent in England. In 1817 Atkinson was also entrusted with the superintendence of the Government Gazette, the official British journal in India. The next year he published his edition of ?atem ?a'i : Hatim Taee, a Popular Romance, Calcutta, 1818. After 1823, when the government severed its formal ties with the journal, the Gazette—and the newly founded Press—were placed under his charge. / Atkinson spent the years 1828-33 in England where he completed his abridged verse and prose translation of the Sah-nama. The work, to which a revised version of Soohrab had been appended, was published by the Oriental Translation Fund in 1832, and won the Fund's gold medal. Four years later the Fund published Atkinson's verse translation in epitome of Ne?ami's celebrated romance under the title of Laili and Mejnun (1836). Meanwhile, Atkinson had returned to his duties in India, and in 1838 accompanied the British army of occupation into Afghanistan, where he remained stationed until the defeat and surrender of Dost Mo?ammad in 1841. Atkinson retired in 1847 after forty-two years of active service, returned to England shortly afterwards and died of apoplexy on 7 August 1852. / Atkinson's translations from the Sah-nama suffer from his over-zealous attempt to prove Ferdowsi closer in substance and utterance to Western epic conventions than was generally realized. In The Shah Nameh which is an abridgment in verse and in prose, he employs a variety of meters and measures, creating an uneven pace and, consequently, a false impression of the Sah-nama. The work thus conveys little of the majesty and poetic air of the original. / Atkinson's other translations from Persian include The Aubid: An Eastern Tale (Calcutta, 1819), a verse translation of a contemporary Indian romance, and The Customs and Manners of the Women of Persia and Their Domestic Superstitions (Oriental Translation Fund, 1832), a loose prose translation of Aqa Jamal ?vansari's Ketab-e Kol?um Nana. PROVENANCE: Wilberforce Eames, (1855-1937) was a U.S. bibliographer and librarian, known as the 'Dean of American bibliographers'. A. S. W. Rosenbach said of Eames "Probably the greatest student of books in the whole history of scholarship and book collecting lives quietly in New York, worshiped by every collector and scholar and unknown to the world in general- Wilberforce Eames." REFERENCES: See: A. Karimi-Hakkak, Encyclopaedia Iranica; Catalogue of the Library of Wilberforce Eames . . . : For Sale at Auction . . . , Part I, New York, Anderson Auction, May 17-18, 1905. No. 6247 [this copy].
(Inventory #: ME1069)
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