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the Complete Review
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Kelidar II

Mahmud Doulatabadi

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Title: Kelidar II
Author: Mahmud Doulatabadi
Genre: Novel
Written: 1979
Length: 256 pages
Original in: Persian
Availability: in Kelidar - Deutschland
  • Kelidar II has not yet been translated into English
  • The second in a ten-volume series, published as Kelidar between 1978 and 1983.

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Our Assessment:

B+ : a bit too far-flung, but still fascinating

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
World Lit. Today . Fall/1998 William L. Hanaway

The WLT review refers to the German translation of Kelidar

  From the Reviews:
  • "Ranging from lyrical depictions of nature (a very traditional aspect of Persian prose) to lean descriptions of human action and the laconic dialogue of people who spend much time in solitude, his story has an epic quality that is due not only to its length. The diction is that of Khorasan, with many local words and expressions that are glossed at the end. The narrative prose is often fragmented into phrases with no verb, as a storyteller might do when completely comfortable with his audience." - William L. Hanaway, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

Please note that this review is based also on the German translation of the novel, published as Kelidar, in a translation by Sigrid Lotfi.

       The second volume of the ten-volume Kelidar-saga picks up where the first left off (see our review). Life has gotten fairly bleak for the Kalmischis, and the desperation is beginning to show. Looming also always over them is the fear of discovery of their involvement in the death that set so much in motion in the first volume.
       Sheepless, his land barren, Gol-Mammad is willing to do most anything: the latest venture is to collect wood and transport it on his camels to town to make a meagre profit there.
       One of the most dramatic events comes early on: Gol-Mammad and Maral are overcome by their passion, and Gol-Mammad takes her as his (second) wife. Which of course goes over really well with wife number one, Siwar. (Both here and elsewhere there are moments of intense, bursting passion, very effectively done. Prude literature, as one might expect given that it is Iranian, this ain't.)
       The book does not focus on the newlyweds, however, following a variety of other strands and folk as well. There is something of an overfill of story here (though presumably much sets the scene for what unfolds over the eight volumes that follow). But one of the pleasures of reading Doulatabadi is the portraits he paints: individual encounters, with friend, enemy, benefactor, and others, are often remarkably well done -- as are the long periods of isolation, man (or woman) alone in the vast (and often dark) lands.
       There are powerful scenes throughout. Life is hard, and there are hard decisions to make. There are acts of generosity, and petty ones as well.
       In the end the book takes a sudden, truly shocking turn, as the death from the first volume again appears to catch up with Gol-Mammad and his family. Tension quickly heightens, culminating in a horrible, desperate act -- but Doulatabadi offers one final twist, compounding the act. At the book's end, the abyss opens.

       Not quite as well or evenly paced as the first volume, and covering too much ground, the second volume of this saga is nevertheless also a very impressive work. Recommended.

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Kelidar: Mahmud Doulatabadi: Other books by Mahmud Doulatabadi under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Iranian author Mahmud Doulatabadi (Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, etc.; محمود دولت آبادی) was born in 1940. He has written many highly acclaimed novels and also worked as an actor.

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