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Crowning Anguish


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The daughter of one of the last Qajar rulers of Iran, Taj al-Saltana penned a memoir in 1914 recounting her life and experiences in the royal harem. Inspired by Western writings and disillusioned by incidents in her own life, Taj attacked many traditions, including the segregation and inferior status of women in Persian society. Now the existing fragments of her writings have been compiled in a book designed to appeal to an audience intrigued by life ``behind the veil.'' While the feminist sentiments of the young woman appear modern, it is the simplicity and directness of Taj's personality that make the work memorable. The abrupt end of the memoirs during an account of her disintegrating marriage is a disappointment. An introduction precedes the text and a useful selection of historical biographies follows. Recommended for Middle Eastern collections.-- Rose Cichy, Osterhout Free Lib., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

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