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SOAS Library Persian collection strengthened by generous book donation

7 February 2014

The Centre for Iranian Studies, part of the London Middle East Institute (LMEI) at SOAS, University of London, has received a rare and celebrated collection of Persian literature, including the 1970 edition of the Dehkhoda Dictionary, from the private collection of successful Iranian entrepreneur Mr Harun Rashid Farmanfarmaian.

A Mechanical Engineer by training, Mr Harun Rashid Farmanfarmaian is the son of prominent Qajar Prince and politician, Abdul Hossein Farmanfarmaian (1859-1939).  His donation will give students and scholars of classical Persian poetry, humanities and social sciences access to a range of essential interpretative texts many of which chronicle early modern imperial Iranian history.

The highly significant Dehkhoda Dictionary or ‘Logatnameh- Dehkhoda’ was first printed in 1931. It comprises of 40 volumes and is the largest comprehensive Persian dictionary ever published. The complete work entails over 45 years of work by Persian literary scholar, poet and author Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, and a cadre of other experts.

Iranian Heritage Foundation Visiting Scholar, Dr Ghoncheh Tazmini, who was involved in the donation, said: “The Dehkhoda Dictionary became so significant that in 1945 a bill was proposed in the Iranian Parliament (Majles), signed by numerous Members of Parliament, including Mohammed Mossadegh, to allocate a special budget and staff to complete the project. As a result, offices were provided for the dictionary inside the compounds of the Majles itself. The project was later moved to University of Tehran College of Humanities, where the Dehkhoda Institute was founded, and where it remains until this day.”

Persian dictionary

The Dehkhoda Dictionary

Other significant works in the collection include a selection of Tafsirs or literary interpretations of prominent Persian poets, Reynold Nicholson’s authoritative six-volume English translation of Rumi’s Mathnawi, the works of Hafez and Ferdowsi and a multi-volume edition of the History of Literature in Iran and major reference works on the politics and economics of the Qajar period, including some important core texts on the Persian Constitutional Revolution.

Dr Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies, warmly welcomed the generous donation: "This kind donation will equip the library shelves of the Persian collection with some valuable references, and will greatly enhance the resources available for students and scholars of Iranian Studies. It also indicates the growing institutional reputation of the Centre and complements ongoing efforts to advertise the new MA in Iranian Studies at SOAS and the availability of several scholarships to study Iran."  

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The Kamran Djam Scholarship at SOAS is available for the BA Persian and MA Iranian Studies programmes, and MPhil PhD in Persian Language, Persian Literature and Iranian History from 2014/15.