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Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond


Parallels with Persian ideas, themes and literary devices can be seen in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most important poets of the European Middle Ages.

His Canterbury tales contains a number of similarities to both ʿAttar’s Conference of the birds and the 1001 nights. As in ʿAttar’s work, Chaucer’s Tales involves 30 protagonists, who embark on a journey of pilgrimage.

His Tales and the 1001 nights are both based around a frame narrative, which enables many different stories to be told within one overarching story. These two collections also share elements, such as a magical horse, brass in Chaucer’s ‘Squire’s tale’ and ebony in the 1001 nights.

In addition, the title of Chaucer's Parliament of fowls is strongly reminiscent of ʿAttar’s Conference of the birds, which had been written two centuries earlier. Chaucer's Parliament is the first poem to link Saint Valentine’s Day with romantic love and it features bird suitors of different species and character, including owls, peacocks and nightingales, not unlike the bird characters in ʿAttar’s tale.

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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