chapter  14
11 Pages

Jamalzadeh’s fiction

Jamalzadeh has been traditionally known as the founder of modern Persian fiction. This is acceptable if it means that with the publication of his Yeki Bud va Yeki Nabud (Once upon a Time) modern Persian fiction, which had begun to emerge from the late nineteenth century, came of age.1 The collection of the six short stories published in 1921 certainly marks a watershed in the development of modern Persian fiction. The author lived in Berlin when, in 1921, the book was published in Tehran and caused a great sensation. The immediate causes of its success were in fact more socio-political than literary. The book was enthusiastically received by modern scholars and intellectuals. But some of the ulama found the book blasphemous and held a meeting in the Jame’ (Congregational) Mosque to condemn it, although others who included some ulama and committed Muslims organised a counter-meeting in its support in the Sepahsalar College and Mosque. ‘Clubs of excommunication were raised, and cries of “Oh shari’a help!” shouted’, as Seyyed Abdorrahim Khalkhali reported in a long letter to the author.2