Visions of Persia: Mapping the Travels of Adam Olearius
by Elio Brancaforte
Harvard University Press, 2003
Paper: 978-0-674-01254-7
Library of Congress Classification NE892.G3B73 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 915.50430222


This work examines the travel account of a German baroque author who journeyed in search of silk from Northern Germany, through Muscovy, to the court of Shah Safi in Isfahan.

Adam Olearius introduced Persian literature, history, and arts to the German-speaking public; his frank appraisal of Persian customs foreshadows the enlightened spirit of the eighteenth century (influencing Montesquieu's Persian Letters as well as Goethe's West-Eastern Divan) and prepares the way for German Romanticism's infatuation with Persian poetry.

Brancaforte focuses on the visual and discursive nexus uniting Olearius's text with the numerous engravings that supplement the book. The emphasis falls on contextualized readings of Olearius's decorative frontispieces and his new and improved map of Persia and the Caspian Sea, as expressions of early modern subjectivity.

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