The Masnavi is a six-volume masterpiece created by one of the world's greatest poetic geniuses, Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273). It is perhaps the single most influential piece of mystical writing ever conceived. Though the Persian poet, Rumi is now hugely popular in the West, his most famous oeuvre still remains enigmatic. Alan Williams offers a novel approach to reading and understanding this great jewel of world literature. Recognizing that all medieval and modern attempts to 'explain' the Masnavi have been based on an examination of its teachings, Williams shows that those who have tried to find the key to its message in its separate themes have had little success. He argues that the work can only be fully comprehended if the 'meaning' of the text is understood to lie in the poetry itself, in the language. The closely woven tapestry cannot be unwoven into prosaic explanation without losing the whole. The visionary poetic metaphors and devices are not the container for the teachings: they are the teachings. This revelatory unlocking enables Rumi's voice and purpose to become fully transparent.
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Alan Williams is a Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester. His previous publications include,The Zorostrian Myth of Migration from Iran(2009, joint winner of the 2010 Ehsan Yarshater Book Award in Ancient Iranian Studies), Parsis in India and the Diaspora (co-written with John Hinnells, 2008) and Jalaluddin Rumi: Spiritual Verses (2006).
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