Since the middle of the nineteenth century, Iranian intellectuals have been preoccupied by issues of political and social reform, Iran's relation with the modern West, and autocracy, or arbitrary rule. Drawing from a close reading of a broad array of primary sources, this book offers a thematic account of the Iranian intelligentsia from the Constitutional movement of 1905 to the post-1979 revolution.
Ali Gheissari shows how in Iran, as in many other countries, intellectuals have been the prime mediators between the forces of tradition and modernity and have contributed significantly to the formation of the modern Iranian self image. His analysis of intellectuals' response to a number of fundamental questions, such as nationalism, identity, and the relation between Islam and modern politics, sheds new light on the factors that led to the Iranian Revolution—the twentieth century's first major departure from Western political ideals—and helps explain the complexities surrounding the reception of Western ideologies in the Middle East.
"Gheissari's work is significant in that it marks a recent trend in Iranian studies to examine the concept of self in conjunction with society and state.... This book is a distinguished piece of scholarship, well and clearly written, scientifically documented, and theoretically fair and exhaustive."
—Darius Rejali, author of Torture and Modernity: State, Self and Society in Modern Iran