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Sufi-Romantic Self Loss: The Study of the Influence of Persian Sufism on English Romantic Poetry

By Elham Nilchian


This PhD thesis explores the influence of Persian Sufi Literature on the development of the concepts of self and Other in English Romantic-period prose and poetry. The thesis considers the notions of self, idealisation, and annihilation in the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and George Gordon Byron as well as the Persian Sufi literature from which these Romantic poets have drawn their inspiration and influences. The Persian poets discussed include Hafez, Maulavi, and Nezami, whose works were translated and adapted by the eighteenth-century scholars such as William Jones and Isaac D‘Israeli. The thesis presents a comparison between the two schools of thought, Lacanianism and Sufism, in order to pave the way for a comparative analysis of Sufi and Romantic conceptions of the self and Other. The thesis then goes on to discuss a range of representations of the Orient in the pre-Romantic era, including the translations and adaptations rendered by eighteenth-century Oriental scholars such as Jones and D‘Israeli. Finally the thesis focuses on the influence of Persian literature on the works of Shelley and Byron. An attempt is made in these chapters to explore the extent to which the Romantic subject‘s desire for union with the ideal Other is made possible through idealisation of and dissolution in the Other, first in the literary historical context of the Sufi tradition, and secondly in the framework of the theoretical models in Lacanian psychoanalysis. In order to analyse the concepts of self and Other in their Romantic and Sufi contexts the thesis invokes Lacan‘s discussion of supplementary jouissance and sublimation. These Lacanian formulae prove helpful in analysing the path the Romantic subject pursues toward perfection and his desire for a return to the primal state of unity which is possible through dissolution in the ideal(ised) Other

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:

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