Art And Culture

Remembering Iran’s Father of Short Story

Remembering Iran’s Father of Short StoryRemembering Iran’s Father of Short Story

November 8 was the 14th death anniversary of the prominent Iranian intellectual and pioneer of modern Persian prose (fiction) Mohammad-Ali Jamalzadeh.

On the occasion, it would be appropriate to take a brief look at the life and works of the pioneer of the short story genre in Iran.

Mohammad-Ali Jamalzadeh Esfahani (1892 – 1997) was born in Isfahan. He was one of the most eminent writers of Iran in the 20th century, best known for his unique style of humor. In view of his vast influence over Persian short-story writing, he is often referred to as the father of this genre in Iran.

The young Jamalzadeh lived in Iran until he was twelve. Thereafter, he lived in Lebanon, France, and in Switzerland where he studied law at the University of Lausanne and later at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France.

In 1917, he published his first book ‘The Worthy Treasure,’ an overview of Iran at the start of the 20th century. Jamalzadeh’s major work ‘Once Upon a Time,’ published in 1921 in Berlin, a collection of six short stories, notable for its direct, colloquial language, remarkable use of Persian idioms, and immense sociological, political, and critical insight, signaled a major turning point in the development of modern fiction in Iran.

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His tendency toward using sage remarks, mystical and philosophical speculations, and disregard for order became the hallmark of his later writings. ‘Armageddon’ (1947), ‘Bitter and Sweet’ (1955), ‘None Existed Except God’ (1961), ‘Short Stories for Bearded Children’ (1974), and ‘Thus Ends Our Story’ (1979) were written during this phase of his literary activity.

Jamalzadeh’s contributions to Persian culture go beyond the genre of the short story. In the span of his long life, he published novels, short stories, political and social essays, scholarly research articles, literary reviews and criticism, and autobiographical and biographical essays.

In addition to Persian, Jamalzadeh was fluent in French, German, and Arabic. He translated many books from these languages into Persian.

Jamalzadeh died at the ripe old age of 105, in Geneva, Switzerland. His resting place is located in the Petit-Saconnex cemetery.