An Interview with Jalil Doostkhah
An Interview with Jalil Doostkhah – Iranologist and researcher – Shahrokh Ahkami
Please tell us about your childhood, including your elementary, secondary schools courses and your higher education?
I was born in Isfahan – Iran, in 1933. I began my earlier educational course at Maktabkhâne. During the years 1940-1951, I continued my education at elementary school secondary school, and Teacher’s Training College. From 1957 to 1968, I was a student of literature and humanities at Faculty of Literature & Human Sciences,Tehran University and I graduated as a Doctor of Persian Literature & Human Sciences (PhD.).
Did you teach after your
Yes, I was teaching at elementary and secondary schools in Isfahan & Tehran from 1952 to 1968 and as a professor at the Universities of Isfahan and Ahvaz (Jondishapur) as well as one year at Durham University, Yorkshire -UK. (1969-1981).
Meanwhile I worked also with my late professor Dr .Mohammd Mo’inas his assistant editor at Loghat-nâme-ye Dehkhodâ (Dehkhoda Encycopaedic Dictionary) and Farhang-e Fârsi (A Persian Dictionary).
When did you leave Iran and what was your aim in moving to Australia?
Before I migrated to Australia, my elder daughter Anahita had gone to Germany and my elder son Siyavash, had gone to Australia.
The rest of the family: Fereshteh; my wife, Rozita; my younger daughter, Nima; my younger son and myself joined Siyavash in Australia in 1991. Anahita came to Australia 3 years later.
What did you teach in
I did not undertake any formal teaching in Australia. I have been very busy with my own research and also participating in seminars and giving lectures at the universities as a guest speaker. Another activity that I was involved with was participating in more than forty Shâhnâme Research meetings at Audio Library, Online, Ketabkhaneyegooya.blogspot.com.au.
Once you were in the United States how did you find it?
I was invited by the Centre For Iranian Studies at Columbia University, I worked as an assistant editor of Encyclopaedia Iranica under the super vision of Prof.Dr.EhsanYarshater(1993-1994).
Please tell us about your works.
My works include the following published books and articles:
1. Avestâ, a simplified of my late Prof. Ebrâhîmpûrdâvûd’s translation, under his supervision.One vol., Morvaridpublications-Tehran. 6 editions- 1964 -1987 (Plus 2 editions in Cyrilic (Rusian) scripts – Tajikestan& Uzbakestan).
2. Himaliya: An antology of Urdu poems, Translated with Co-operation of Dr. S. A. Naqavi, Tahûrî publications-Tehran-1963.
3. A translation of Creation and Termination, A Semantic Study of the Qur’ânic World View, by Shinya Makino, Ph.D., Keio Professor at Tokyo University for Foreign Studies, Lecturer at Keio University. Amirkabir Pub., Tehran – 1984 & 1996.
4. Cults & Legend of Ancient Iran& China, by SIR. J. C.Coyajee, late principal, PRESIDECY COLLEGE, CALCUTTA, Pocketbook pub., Tehran- 1974, 1983, 2001 & 2004.
5. Avesta, The Most Ancient Iranian Cultural Texts, 2 Vols. (In commemoration of the Third Millennium of Zoroaster’s Birthday, Announced by Unesco). Morvarid Publications-Tehran, 1992-2012- Sixteen Editions.This is my best seller work.
6. Studies In Shahnameh, by SIR. J. C. Coyajee (No. 4), Zanderoud Pub., Isfahan- 1996.
7. The Origins of the Iranian Mythology and Epics, by SIR. J. C. Coyajee(No. 4) Agah Pub., Tehran- 2001 &2006.
8. The Iranian Epics, A Monument from beyond the millenniums. First ed.: Bârân Pub., – Sweden, 2001, second ed.: Agah pub. -Tehran -2002.
9. Seven Adventures (Haft Khân) of Rostam, Qoqnûs Pub., Tehran – 2004.
10. Rahyâfti be Gâhân-e Zartoshtvamatnhâ-ye now-Avestâyi(An approach to Zoroaster’s five Hymns & New Avestan Texts (A Persian translation of AvestâReader,Texts, Notes, Glossary & Index, by Hans Reichelt) – Qoqnûs Pub. , Two eds. Tehran – 2004 & 2007. This work is the textbook of The Ancient Iranian Languages at a postgraduate course at Tehran University.
11.Irânšenâkht,Twenty researches.(Prof. Jackson Memorial Volume, Papers on Iranian Subjects, Written by several scholars (The Persian translation was a recommendation of Prof. Ebrahim Pûrdâvûd.), Agah pub.Tehran-2005.
12. Some articles and book reviews in the literary magazines and periodicals (inside Iran & abroad):Râhnamâ-ye Ketâb, Payâm-e Navin, Payghâm-e Emrûz-e haftegi, Negâh-e Now, Kelk, Bokhara&Jahân-e ketâb(Tehran), Jong&Zanderûd(Isfahan), Irân-Nâme, Irân-šenâsi, Bar-rasi-ye Ketâb /Book Review) &Daftar-e Honar(USA.), Fasl-e ketâb (U.K.), Ārash (France). Iran & Caucasus (Arminia).
13. In process of publication:An edited version of The Narator’s Šâhahnâme, by late famous narrator (Naqqâl)AbbâsZarirî, ۵ Vols. Kârnâme Pub.- Tehran. A Persian Dictionary of Isfahânian Dialect.Remaining Iranian & becoming Universal, a collection of ten discourses on Iranian subjects.
Persian words are admirable, but sometimes your selected words are unfamiliar and
understanding them is
difficult for the public. Please comment on this?
These days the Persian language is facing a lot of difficult problems and many of Persians including myself are challenging them. As a matter of fact, I believe neither to use unlimited loan Arabic or Western, nor pure Persian words (So called Sare-nevisi).
The language in its nature and structure is a live and dynamic phenomenon and the speakers and users of any languages, should always be the guardian of it, otherwise it will face a critical situation.
Here I refer you to an article on “The Persian Language from disturbance to order” by myself written in my forthcoming book “Remaining Iranian & becoming Universal.”
Tell us about your opinion of Ferdowsi and Shahname.
My interest in Shahname treasure and the great Ferdowsi, began from my childhood and continues up to now. It has had a very big effect on me. It has become institutionalized and my main emotion in life.
You have an interesting
web-site, what is your motivation in publishing it?
You mean my web site: Iranshenakht (http://iranshenakht.blogspot.com.au. Thank you for your attention towards this cultural work.
Nearly one decade ago, I began to publish this electronic media and wanted to open a window beyond my academic works towards the current aspects of the contemporary cultural life and updated and dynamic aspects of actions. In this regards my experience was very positive and successful and I am satisfied of it.
You were friends with my late
friend Dr. Parviz Rajabi. Would you please tell us something on his
characteristics and his
My friendship with Dr. Rajabi, began in the final years of the Pahlavi Regime, when he came back to Iran from his educational journey to Germany and joined the University of Isfahan to work as a Professor of History. But our visit in Isfahan was very short; as usual SAVAK did not let him to teach and he was sent to Tehran to undertake an office-job in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, but our friendship became deeper and continued until his sorrowful death in 2012.
Dr.Rajabi was representative of a new generation of the Iranian historians and was admired by both Iranians and non-Iranians like Prof. Hide Mary Kokh, a German archaeologist and Iranologist, who recognized and validated his unique work, he stated about him:”Parviz Rajabi is such a person who has turned a blind eye on his personal problems and tirelessly works on service to his nation’s culture.”
Rajabi was Indeed a distinct example of this line of Sâeb of Tabriz:
“I am afraid that the time will consider my tolerance, as an inability¸ otherwise I would make it shameful!”
All of Dr.Rajabi’s research are outstanding, among them Hazârehâ-ye gom-šode (The Lost Millenniums) – 5 Vols and Sadehâ-ye gom-šode (The Lost Centuries) -10 Vols are unique.
What is your advice to the younger Iranian generations at home & abroad?
As a matter of fact, I believe that advice will not be accepted nor effective. My own experiences showed me that everyone and each generation must learn from their own experiences. As Rûdaki – the father of Persian Poetry–said:
“One who didn’t learn through
passing of the times,
would never learn from any teacher!”
What are the best experiences that you have had during your educational and cultural life?
I have had a lot of sweet and bitter experiences during the eight decades of my life which I have pointed to some of them in my books and articles and are available to the readers.
Do you have any additional thing to say?
I would like to thank you for organizing this interview.
I wish you and your colleagues more success in your useful and impressive cultural job.