SOAS University of London

Announcement - Bruce Wannell has passed away

7 February 2020
IMG - Bruce Wannell 1

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our friend, and much respected independent scholar, Bruce ‘Aziz’ Wannell on 29 January 2020.

A polyglot and learned linguist, translator, art historian, writer, pianist, gardener, traveller, and an inimitable boon companion, he devoted much of his life to studying, exploring and promoting the Persianate world- particularly Iran and Afghanistan- as well as India, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and East Africa.

We plan to celebrate his remarkable life and achievements in due course at SOAS, and will keep you updated about the planned events.

Bruce loved, and knew his Persian poetry well, and it is apt to mark this sad occasion with one of his translations of a poem by the 11th century poet, philosopher and traveller, Naser Khosrow. Bruce Wannell’s unerring eye for detail and perfection, and his passion and patience for learning, and teaching, will be keenly missed.

The translation is taken from Persian Poems: Selections, Renditions, and Translations, by Robert Maxwell and Bruce Wannell, published in 2012:

رنج  و عنای  جـهان  گرچه دراز است

با بد  و  با نیک  بی گمان  بــه  سر آید

چرخ مسافر ز بـهر ماست  شـب و روز

هـر چــه  یکی  رفت،  بر اثر،  دگـر  آید

 ما  سفر  برگذشتنی  گذرانیم

 تا  سفر  ناگذشتنی  به در آید

 ناصر خسرو

Discomforts and trials in this world are long drawn out

Yes, suffering and joy will certainly one day cease.

Heaven’s wheel travels on for us day and night,

Behind each comes the next, following in its trace

Here we travel and complete our voyaging,

Until our endless journey after death begins.

IMG - Bruce Wannell 2  

Bruce Wannell, 1953-2020

For further information, contact:

Narguess Farzad (Chair, Centre for Iranian Studies):