A Brief Note on Samad Behrangi's Life

Iraj Bashiri
Copyright, Bashiri, 2000

Samad Behrangi was born in the city of Tabriz, Azerbaijan province. He received his early education in Tabriz and graduated from high school in 1957. After that, for eleven years, he taught in the rural districts of Azerbaijan, familiarizing villagers, especially children and youth, to books and libraries.

Behrangi's native tongue was Azeri Turkish and, personally, preferred writing in Azeri over Farsi. He was not, however, allowed to publish in Azeri; he, therefore, made his writings available by translating them into Persian.

More than anything, Behrangi was a social critic whose major effort was concentrated on bringing about change in the educational system of the country. This is evident from the themes of his works that contrast the rich and the poor, the village and the town, and the educated and the illiterate.

He criticized both the methodology and the contents of the state-sponsored textbooks. He found the methodology to be outdated and the materials inappropriate. "'Postal service, congratulatory notes, telephone conversation, and sitting at the table,' although common place concepts in a western society, are alien to Iranian village children," he said. Rather than spending precious time explaining these concepts, he normally took the pen and replaced words and phrases that were inappropriate for village children.

Behrangi believed that children should be confronted with the realities of their own lives. Furthermore, he believed that the system, which had served his generation, must be abolished even at the expense of taking arms against its supporters and promoters.

Behrangi wrote for children. "The Little Black Fish" (1968) is his most well-known work. Two of his other works were published in 1969. They are "One Peach, A Thousand Peaches" and "24 Restless Hours." Some of his concerns regarding the Iranian system of education are outlined in an essay entitled, "Investigations into the Educational Problems of Iran." He also published "Tales of Azerbaijan," in two volumes. The "Tales" were translated from Azeri Turkish into Farsi. In 1968, Behrangi died in a swimming accident in a river in Azerbaijan, an accident which, generally, is understood to have been an act of the SAVAK (the Shah's secret police).

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