A Brief Note on the Life of Parviz Natel Khanlari
By Iraj Bashiri
Copyright Iraj Bashiri, 2004
By Iraj Bashiri
Copyright Iraj Bashiri, 2004
Parviz Natel Khanlari was born in Tehran in 1914. He was the son of a government official from the Natel Nur region of Mazandaran. Khanlari graduated from the University of Tehran with a doctorate degree in Persian literature and, for a time thereafter, he taught in the schools of Gilan and later at the University of Tehran. In 1949, while keeping his position at Tehran University, he attended Paris University and studied linguistics. He also traveled to Tajikistan (1956) and India (1978).
Khanlari's contributions fall into several categories. First and foremost, he held some of the highest positions in the Iranian government in the 1960's through the late 1970's. Early in his career, he was the Governor of Azerbaijan Province. Later on, he served first as the Deputy Prime Minister and later as the Minister of Education of Iran. He served as the representative of Mazandaran in four sessions of the Iranian Parliament. He was also the Director of the Shahname Foundation and of the Iranian Cultural Foundation. His efforts were instrumental in the establishment and operation of the Iran Academy of Arts and Literature of Iran, the Franklin Institute, and other similar institutions.
Khanlari's early works consisted of both prose and poetry. His first contribution appeared in Iqdam in 1931. This was followed by research in major studies in Persian poetics, linguistics, and the history of Iran both before and after the Islamic invasion. In 1932, he translated Dukhtari Sarvan from French. Like his study of poetics and linguistics, this too led to a series of wonderful and needed translations of European works into Persian. These include translations from the works of Pushkin, Rilke, Arthur A. Pope, and others.
Probably the most unique and lasting contribution of Khanlari is his editorship of Sukhan, a monthly to which many major figures of Iranian culture and literature of his time contributed. His editorship, which lasted, with some interruption, for some 35 years (1944-1979) has provided the scholars in Iranian studies a most useful tool for the study of aspects of the Iranian scene. The publication of the monthly came to an end in 1979.
Natel Khanlari is distinguished for the simplicity of his style. He did not follow the traditionalists nor did he advocate the new. Indeed, his approach accommodated the entire spectrum of creativity and expression in Persian literature. His Oqob (eagle), reproduced below with a translation by this author, is an example of his achievements in this vein.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Khanlari was identified with the Pahlavi regime. Labeled a plunderer of Iran's wealth and an accomplice of Satan, he was imprisoned for four months. Sick and poor, he died in the same year that he was released from prison, 1991. He was 77 years old.
Parviz Natel Khanlari
Copyright, Bashiri 2000
years and more...while the eagle's life span is
but thirty years."
From Khavas al-Haivan
When his youthful days began to depart.
The end was approaching fast, he saw,
With only sunsets remaining to draw.
Leaving this world full of desire,
To another world he must retire.
The incurable demanded quick cure,
A medicine at once fresh and pure.
Early one morn he took to flight,
To end, for good, the mortals' plight.
Alarmed, the flock avoiding capture,
Ran here and yon, devoid of rapture.
Fearful of the enemy, the shepherd,
Sought safety for the lamb and the herd,
Among the brush, the partridge hid,
Into a deep hole, the snake slid.
Stopped in his track the deer, then ran,
Leaving a line of dust, thin and tan.
The hunter though, elsewhere bound,
Allowed the game to roam the ground.
Mortals are destined to one day perish,
Sweetness of life to no longer cherish.
On that vast plane had made his nest.
A survivor of kids, the rocks they throw,
He lived the monotonous life of a crow.
Beyond reckoning his number of years,
Dead matter and carrion his daily fares.
His complaint to the pesky bird to bring.
"Much maligned fellow, respectfully I seek,
Your wise counsel, do not be meek.
A solution true if offered for my pain,
My regal reach would determine your gain."
"We are but slaves," said the crow, "of old,
To carry your orders, with honors untold.
Ready at your command to play my role,
Sacrifice for you, my self, body, and soul.
Life sacrificed for you, I have been taught.
Is all there is, no more exists to be sought."
'In the eagle's claws, I must not be caught.
Need has made the mighty meek and tame,
Am I not to him but a feckless game?
If suddenly riled or slightly scuffed,
Like a candle, my life will be snuffed.
Ill-founded friendship begets ill-founded love,
Ill-placed discretion turns me into a dove.'
Having made his decision, the cautious crow,
sought distance from the eagle, a stones throw.
Thus said the eagle, depressed and torn,
With the crow watching in amazement, there upon.
He reached his own abode, passed even that,
To the abode of light, where the firmament's at.
He became a point that had existed a while,
Then turned into a dot that was not servile.