Manila Foodistas and New Reading
Some PSHS alumni put up a blog that reviews various dining places in the city (and perhaps outside of it, eventually). Being the lover of new food experiences that I am, I’m definitely going to be trying out their recommendations—when my money comes in, that is.
I have a pile of stuff to finish reading this summer: The Nightwatch trilogy, which I still have yet to return to Arghs, as well as War and Peace. I haven’t started on that at all.
However, I found a gem that I will most likely introduce into the third year curriculum next year: Abol Qasem Ferdowsi’s The Shahnameh, the Persian Epic of Kings.
It’s not surprising that almost all of our Middle Eastern lit for the fourth quarter is about Islam or life in Muslim nations. Our new home reading assignment last year was Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, which all of us enjoyed. Yes, even the students.
The Kite Runner mentions and alludes to The Shahnameh in several places; one of the characters is even named after a Shahnameh hero.
The interesting thing about The Shahnameh is that it talks about pre-Islam Persia, and so its antagonists consort with Deevs (demons), and most of the wickedness that goes on is the fault of Ahriman and not Iblis.
At first I was going to actually purchase a (very expensive) copy of The Shahnameh that I found at Powerbooks last month, but then I did a search for it online again and found that there was indeed an English translation of it available online. [This translation is by Helen Zimmern.]
It’s interesting how epics are easily adapted into graphic novels and into animated films. There already is a Shahnameh graphic novel about its primary hero, Rostam (who is sometimes called a Paladin in some translations).
Rostam himself bears many similarities to other classic heroes: Hercules, Hildebrand, and even the Irish Cuchulainn. It’s interesting how myths and legends tend to converge at some point in one way or another.
In any case, I’m enjoying reading The Shahnameh. Like most other epics, it tends to be ponderous and difficult at times, and the translation renders the language in a rather archaic fashion (which suits epics anyway), so perhaps it isn’t for everyone. But if you could take The Lord of the Rings, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t read this epic portrayal of ancient Persia–especially when you realize that 300‘s Xerxes looked more like an Egyptian (or an eccentric rapper from LA) and not a Persian Emperor.
Anyway, that’s about it for now. I’m still waiting on today’s salary.