Zabihollah Safa


Zabihollah Safa May 7, 1911 in ShahmirzadIran – April 29, 1999 in LübeckGermany was a scholar and professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran.

His main contribution to the field of Iranian studies is seen in his seminal and comprehensive works on the history of Persian literature. He was also a regular contributor to the Encyclopaedia Iranica.

After primary and secondary education in Babol and Tehran, he attended the Dār al-Mo’allemin-e `Āli (later Dāneshsarā-ye `Āli) and the University of Tehran where he received a doctorate in Persian literature in 1943. His thesis, a comprehensive study of epic narratives in Iran (Hamāseh-sarāyi dar Irān) was later published as a book and illustrated his ability to synthesize a vast range of readings into a coherent manual for teaching.

The topic chosen for his thesis was also an indication of his life long love for his country and his determination to bear witness through his writing to major literary, philosophic and scientific contributions made by Iranians to civilization at large. His precocious talents and productivity also manifested itself in his journalistic activities as a young man. As early as 1933 he began contributing to the influential journal Mehr, and was its chief editor from 1937 to 1941.

He was also a capable administrator, again using his talents for organized and systematic work to the full. He taught at the University of Tehran from 1941, was appointed to the chair of Persian literary history in 1948, and was dean of the Faculty in 1963-1967. Upon retirement, he became an emeritus professor in 1969. He also held high positions in other administrative spheres including the UNESCO commission in Iran and on the board of the Red Lion and Sun Organization (the Iranian counterpart to the Red Cross).

It is however, for his work as an editor of many classical texts and above all, for his monumental History of Persian Literature and his valuable anthology (translated into French in the UNESCO Collection as Anthologie de la poésie persane by Gilbert Lazard, Roger Lescot and Henri Massé, Paris, 1964) that he will be best remembered.

— Newsletter of the Center for Iranian Studies, MELAC, Vol 11, No 1, Columbia University, New York, Spring 1999
Z. Safa has won several awards: a.o. Decoration (medal) for Science (1. class) (Cultural Ministry (1936), Nešān-e Sepās, 1. class (1947), Palmes Académiques Rang Commandeur (French Government) (1970), Neshān-e Tāj (1977), Ehsan Yarshater prize (1997)
  • Hamâse-sarâyi dar Irân, Tehran 1945 (2000)
  • Târikh-e tahawwol-e Nazm-o- Nasr-e Pârsi, 1952 (1331), 8. ed. 1974 (1353),
  • Ayên-e sokhan. Dar ma’âni wa bayân, Tehran 1952 (1959), 18. ed. 1994
  • Târikh-e adabiyyât dar Irân, Tehran 1953, 16. ed. 2001 8 vol.
  • Gandj-e Sokhan, 1370 pages, 1968 (1348), ed. 1976 (1355), Tehran, 1995 3 vol.
  • Gandjine-je Sokhan, 1969 (1348), 3. ed. 1974 (1353), ?. ed. 1983, Tehran, 6 vol.
  • Gandj va Gandjine, Tehran 2002
  • Birthday: May 7, 1911
  • Death: April 29, 1999
  • Birthplace: Shahmirzad, Semnan, Iran

Scholar, Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies and Regular Contributor to the Encyclopaedia Iranica

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