June 1, 2010

The impact of the Advent of the Bab on many European writers in late 19th century

Writing in the American periodical Forum in 1925, the French literary critic Jules Bois remembered the extraordinary impact which the story of the Bab continued to have on educated opinion in Europe as the nineteenth century closed:

“All Europe was stirred to pity and indignation .... Among the litterateurs of my generation, in the Paris of 1890, the martyrdom of the Bab was still as fresh a topic as had been the first news of His death [in 1850]. We wrote poems about Him. Sarah Bernhardt entreated Catulle Mendes for a play on the theme of this historic tragedy.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 56 and The Baha'i World, vol. 9, 1940-1944, p. 588.)

Writers as-diverse as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, Edward Granville Browne, Ernest Renan, Aleksandr Tumanskiy, A.L.M. Nicolas, Viktor Rosen, Clement Huart, George Curzon, Matthew Arnold, and Leo Tolstoy were affected by the spiritual drama that had unfolded in Persia during the middle years of the nineteenth century. (Douglas Martin, The Mission of the Bab: Retrospective, 1944-1994, The Baha’i World, 1994-1995)

“A Russian poetess, member of the Philosophic, Oriental and Bibliological Societies of St. Petersburg, published in 1903 a drama entitled "The Báb," which a year later was played in one of the principal theatres of that city, was subsequently given publicity in London, was translated into French in Paris, and into German by the poet Fiedler, was presented again, soon after the Russian Revolution, in the Folk Theatre in Leningrad, and succeeded in arousing the genuine sympathy and interest of the renowned Tolstoy, whose eulogy of the poem was later published in the Russian press.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 56)