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Among the great works of world literature, perhaps one of the least familiar to English readers is the Shahnameh, the national epic of Persia. This prodigious narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi between the years 980 and 1010, tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of Creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the seventh century. As a window on the world, Shahnameh belongs in the company of such literary...
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