Diane de Selliers is the publisher of the book, which has been rendered from a Persian edition of the book by Leili Anvar, a translator and professor of Persian literature at the Institut des Langues et des Civilisations Orientales in Paris.

Anvar has also added some notes and an introduction to make the story clearer and more comprehensible. 

Art historians Patrick Ringgenberg and Amina Taha-Hussein Okada have also written introductions and made contributions in the scientific direction of iconography in the book, which carries 180 Persian, Mughal, Indian, Ottoman and Turkish miniatures from the 14th to the 19th century.

The love story is set in the Arabian Desert where a poet named Qeys loves Leyli passionately. Bewitched by her beauty, he sings his love in the face of the world. Perceived as a dishonor by Leyli’s father, this public declaration forbids any hope of marriage. Deprived of his beloved, Qeys sinks into madness and becomes majnun (“the madman” in Persian).

His love for Leyli changes Majnun forever. He leaves his family, takes refuge in the desert, gives up earthly foods to live his unique passion through poetry. 

Little by little, the beauty of Leyli becomes the manifestation of divine beauty for Majnun. The invisible becomes visible, absence transforms into presence. Love lives in her for eternity.

Like Majnun, the reader crosses the darkness of solitude, tears himself away from the world, fights his inner demons, burns with desire, and finds solace in poetry.

This myth has remained famous throughout Eastern culture and as far as Europe where Aragon, crazy about Elsa, will also like to “lose his mind”.

Several imitations of this romance are original literary works in their own right.

Jami’s version, completed in 1484, amounts to 3,860 couplets. Jami’s treatment relies heavily on the Arabic anecdotes, several of which are treated as mystical allegories. 

Majnun does not fall in love at a young age with Leyli, but with another girl. He is disillusioned about love until he later meets Leyli. 

Anvar has previously authored several books on Persian literature for French readers and has translated many books from Persian classics into French.

Source: Tehran Times