Explores the influence of Sufism on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers.
This book reveals the rich, but generally unknown, influence of Sufism on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature. The translation of Persian poets such as Hafiz and Sa'di into English and the ongoing popularity of Omar Khayyam offered intriguing new spiritual perspectives to some of the major American literary figures. As editor Mehdi Aminrazavi notes, these Sufi influences have often been subsumed into a notion of "Eastern," chiefly Indian, thought and not acknowledged as having Islamic roots. This work pays considerable attention to two giants of American literature, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, who found much inspiration from the Sufi ideas they encountered. Other canonical figures are also discussed, including Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, along with literary contemporaries who are lesser known today, such as Paschal Beverly Randolph, Thomas Lake Harris, and Lawrence Oliphant.
Mehdi Aminrazavi is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Mary Washington. He is the author of The Wine of Wisdom: The Life, Poetry, and Philosophy of Omar Khayyam and the coeditor (with David Ambuel) of Philosophy, Religion, and the Question of Intolerance, also published by SUNY Press.
"…the collection is a success and provides a comprehensive and multi-pronged introduction to many of the major characters and key themes in the study of American literary engagement with Sufi texts and concepts." — Journal of Sufi Studies