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In our study of the development of this literature over ten centuries, we will pay special attention to the early formation and origins of different literary genres in Persian works, even though the very notion of literary genres is somewhat arbitrary and a subject of continuing debate and shifting delineation (Fowler; Perkins).

Nevertheless the approach is suitable for an overview, for it makes it possible to discuss, however briefly, broader themes and underlying aesthetic assumptions, and to venture beyond a mere recital of dates, titles, and short biographies of major figures of Persian literature.

225-651), was transformed into Persian (or more precisely “Neo-Persian,” i.e., the language of such early literary milestones as Ferdowsi’s , thus explicitly acknowledging later developments and most notably the gradual development of the language into Modern Persian).

The Middle Persian language itself survived among communities of Zoroastrians in Persia in the first three centuries after the rise of Islam, and significant religious texts in Middle Persian are extant from this period (Bailey; Tafazzoli).

95-102), belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.

Like Kurdish or Pashto, its grammar and lexicon stem from this linguistic family.

For their conquests, the Arabs enlisted indigenous peoples in their armies.

These local populations did not speak a standardized Persian and in many cases did not even use Persian among themselves.

Regarding the chronological span of Classical Persian literature, we are referring here to the aesthetic and cultural concerns expressed in Persian between the ninth century, the advent of papermaking in Samarqand, and the mid-nineteenth century, when the first printing presses went into operation in Tabriz.

Nevertheless, the Persian of the time served as a for these enlisted men.

They were to spread this new version in the conquered provinces, from Azerbaijan to Central Asia, to the detriment of other Iranian languages or other dialects of Persian.

Another factor in the evolution of Middle Persian to Persian was the geographical spread of this language in the wake of the Arab conquest.

Following the path of the Arab invasion, Persian spread from its own heartlands to Central Asia (Transoxania).

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But it is in Classical Persian poetry, which relies so much on tradition and cultural memory, that the strong connections with the pre-Islamic past are displayed in sundry ways: in its meter (although adjusted to Arabic), as well as its vocabulary and major themes (Elwell-Sutton, 1976, pp. It is through a diachronic study of Classical Persian poetry that we can study the import of loanwords and syntactical structures from Arabic.

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