Bozorg Alavi

Bozorg Alavi

Born in 1904 in Tehran, he has become, over the years, an important figure in Persian literature and on the Iranian political circuit. Alavi is considered one of the most famous Iranian writers on the left. His father, Abolhasan, was a revolutionary who participated in the constitutional revolution of the early 20th century. His grandfather was a deputy. In 1923, Mojtaba and his brother Morteza were sent to Germany to continue their studies. Upon graduation, Bozorg returned to Iran in the early 1930s and began teaching in Shiraz.

During his stay in Germany, he became acquainted with European literature and poetry. He began to translate famous books into Persian. During this period he met Sadeq Hedayat. The two men had a lot in common, and it is very difficult to say who had the most influence over the other. Their socialist ideas led them to publish political articles and magazines. It was then that the ’53 band was born, led by Dr. Arani. Bozorg was arrested in 1937 for violating the 1933 anti-communist law. He and 52 other people remained in prison until the Allied occupation of Iran in the fall of 1941. All were arrested, and he was sentenced to seven years in prison. Shortly before entering prison, he published his series “Chamedan” (The Suitcase). In his sentence, Bozorg did not stop writing. Later, Alavi wrote two books about his stay in prison: “Panjah-o seh Nafar” (53 people) and a collection of short stories titled “Varaq pareh ha-ye Zendan” (Junk documents from the prison).

During World War II, Alavi was one of the founders of the Tudeh Party (Party of the Masses of Iran) and edited the party’s newspaper, Mardom (The People). In 1952, Alavi published his most famous work, a novel titled “Chashhmhayash” (His Eyes) and a collection of short stories titled “Nameh ha va Dastan’ha-ye digar” (Letters and other stories). The famous story in this collection entitled “Guileh Mard” (man from Ghilan) has been translated. During the 1953 monarchical coup that brought down the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, Alavi was in East Germany, where he continued to be a professor of Persian literature at the Humboldt University in East Berlin. Alavi’s novel “Salariha” (The Salari Family) and “Mirza”, a collection of six short stories written in the late 1960s and early 1970s, were published in Tehran in 1978. Alavi briefly visited Iran in 1979 and returned to visit it in 1980, where he raised his family before leaving.


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