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Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond


Byron is celebrated as one of the great Romantic poets. He was very interested in Eastern culture, visiting Ottoman Turkey in 1810 and having planned to travel to Persia and India. While Byron did not reach Persia, his time among the Ottomans would have exposed him to Sufism and to stories of Persian origin. He was familiar with the writings of Sir William Jones and had read translations of Hafiz, Saʿdi and Firdausi.

Byron drew on this knowledge in his Turkish tales, which include The bride of Abydos and The Giaour (both 1813). These works make references to stories and motifs from Persian poetry, such as ‘Mejnoun’s tale, or Sadi’s song’.

Names from Persian love stories, such as ‘Zuleika’ and ‘Leila’, were also employed but given different characterisations from the Persian originals. Byron also made reference to the Rose and the Nightingale, even using their Persian names of gul and bulbul.

Love & devotion in the UK

The Bodleian Libraries is showing its own presentation of the Love and devotion exhibition at the Exhibition Room, Bodleian Library, in Oxford, England, between 29 November 2012 and 28 April 2013.

Learn more about how you can visit this exhibition on the Bodleian Libraries website.


Love and devotion: Persian Cultural Crossroads

This two-day conference held in April 2012 featured distinguished international guests and Australian specialists exploring cultural convergences in literature, the arts and architecture, history and philosophy within Persia's cultural sphere and Europe, from the 11th century to the present day.

For information on keynote speakers & topics discussed, visit our conference page

Visit the exhibition

The Love and devotion exhibition took place from 9 March to 1 July 2012. In-depth information about the exhibits and themes can be found on this website.

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