About the Book
In the essays collected here, Abbas Milani uses an impressive array of cross-disciplinary Western and Iranian theories and texts to investigate the crucial question of modernity in Iran today. He offers a wealth of new insights into the thousand-year-old conflict in Iran between the search for modernity and the forces of religious obscurantism. The essays trace the roots of Shiite Islamic fundamentalism and offer illuminating accounts of the work of Iranian intellectuals—both men and women—and their artistic movements as they struggle to find a new path toward a genuine modernity in Iran that is congruent with Iran’s rich cultural heritage.
Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Modernity in Iran challenges the hitherto accepted theory that modernity and its related concepts of democracy and freedom are Western in essence. It also demonstrates that Iran and the West have more that brings them together than separates them in their search for such modern ideals as rationalism, the rule of law, and democracy.
These essays will reward the scholar and the general reader alike, and will go far toward explaining the enigma that is Iran today.
“Milani shows that long before the European Renaissance generated the radical ideas that eventually reshaped Europe and the United States, Persian statesmen, artists, and intellectuals had formulated ideas that strikingly anticipate those of modernity.… Lost Wisdom is not only a powerful work of historical analysis; it is also a moving and eloquent account of a series of remarkable individuals, depicted with rare sensitivity and precision.”
—Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University
About the Author
Raised in Iran, Abbas Milani was sent to be educated in California in the 1960s. He became politically active and in 1974 received a PhD in Political Science. He returned to Tehran and taught at the National University but was imprisoned by the Pahlavi regime in 1977. After the revolution he became a professor at Tehran University, but by 1986 his utopian illusions had been shattered and he emigrated to the United States. Dr. Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian studies at Stanford University and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. His works include, Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir, The Persian Sphinx: Amir-Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution, Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Modernity in Iran, and a translation of Houshang Golshiri’s King of the Benighted.