Political Satire and Parody in the Constitutional Period

In terms of its satirical tone and content, the author suggest, the literature of the Constitutional period is without parallel in Iran's literary history. There has, of course, been an extensive trace of parody and satire in Iran's classical literature, both prose and poetry. The purpose of satiric and lewd literature, however, was often to blackmail someone or extract personal retribution for a perceived or real harm done to the poet or writer. Furthermore, poetry, in all its form was disseminated orally and rarely in written form.

The Constitutional period, however, ushered in a new era in which daily newspapers and printed nightly tracts became the media for the exchange, transmission and dissemination of opinions and ideas, including revolutionary ideas and political rhetoric. The Constitutional revolution aimed at the removal of the monarchical despotism and creation of a democratic political structure generally based on European models. Gradually, however, freedom of expression, one of the basic demands of the fathers of the Constitutional movement, came to be understood as unfettered freedom not subject to the norms of any legal system. Thus, the literature of the period, particularly the satiric genre, evolved into a formidable tool in the hands of fiery poets or unscrupulous political operatives. 'Aref Qazvini, Mirzadeh Eshqi and to a lesser extent, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda and Malek al-Shoara-ye Bahar, stand out as creators of some of the most biting and frivolous types of parody and satire in this period.

Homa Katouzian
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