Iran’s Iraj Pezeshkzad, who wrote ‘My Uncle Napoleon,’ dies

Iran's Iraj Pezeshkzad, who wrote 'My Uncle Napoleon,' dies

Iraj Pezeshkzad, an Iranian creator whose bestselling comedian novel, “My Uncle Napoleon ” lampooned Persian tradition’s self-aggrandizing and paranoid habits because the nation entered the fashionable period, has died. He was 94.

The travails of Uncle Napoleon, whose delusions have him seeing Britain’s hand within the troubles plaguing his waning days of his aristocratic household throughout World Warfare II, grew to become one of many most-beloved tv serials ever in Iran when it aired in 1976.

The fervor of the 1979 Islamic Revolution noticed the e book banned and the collection by no means aired once more on Iranian state tv. Pezeshkzad himself would in the end land in Los Angeles a part of an emigre society of Iranians nonetheless there that see the California metropolis jokingly known as “Tehrangele ” even as we speak.

Pezeshkzad’s phrases and turns of phrase from the novel nonetheless litter Iranian tradition as we speak, together with raunchy references to “San Francisco” as an innuendo for sexual liaisons. The identical goes for passages in regards to the energy of affection, as described in a single scene by Uncle Napoleon’s long-suffering servant, Mash Ghasem.

“When you do not see her, it is like your coronary heart is frozen,” says the servant, portrayed in a softly-lit basement scene within the collection by famed actor Parviz Fannizadeh. “Whenever you see her, it is like a bakery oven is lit in your coronary heart.”

Iran’s semiofficial ISNA information company quoted Davood Mosaei, who printed Pezeshkzad’s books, as confirming his dying on Wednesday. No explanation for dying was instantly provided. Overseas-based Farsi-language tv channels additionally reported his dying.

Iranian state media didn’t report on his dying, although the British ambassador to Iran provided his sympathy.

“My honest condolences and disappointment on the passing of one in all Iran’s nice literary figures – Iraj Pezeshkzad – whose delicate but {powerful} satire is a permanent window onto Iranian tradition,” Simon Shercliff wrote on Twitter.

Born in Tehran within the late Nineteen Twenties, Pezeshkzad got here of age initially of Iran’s Pahlavi dynasty. In “My Uncle Napoleon,” he focuses on an aristocratic household from the Qajar dynasty, which had dominated Persia for over 100 years. A number of dwell in a compound with an unlimited backyard, the place the story takes place.

The late essayist Christopher Hitchens as soon as referred to the novel as “a love story enfolded in a bildungsroman and wrapped in a conspiracy idea” — utilizing a $10 phrase for a coming-of-age story. The narrator loves Uncle Napoleon’s daughter, his cousin, however in the end by no means marries her.

However the story does extra to elucidate the mindset of Iranians, who in a technology discovered themselves dragged from an almost feudal, rural life-style into the fashionable period of cityscapes. As Persia formally grew to become Iran, it grew to become the goal of world powers.

First, Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Iran in 1941 and deposed Shah Reza Pahlavi, nervous about his overtures to Adolf Hitler in Germany. His younger son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, took the throne. In 1953, a CIA- and British-backed coup cemented the shah’s energy and overthrew the nation’s elected prime minister.

However even earlier than the fashionable period, weaker Persian dynasties discovered themselves subsumed by {powerful} overseas powers. That paranoia bleeds into trendy Iran, the place its theocracy now finds itself focused in assaults over its accelerating nuclear program but additionally has the tendency accountable all its woes on conspirators overseas.

“Though the e book is just not political, it’s politically subversive, focusing on a sure mentality and angle,” wrote creator Azar Nafisi in 2006. “Its protagonist is a small-minded and incompetent character who blames his failures and his personal insignificance on an omnipotent entity, thereby making himself vital and indispensable.

“In Iran, for instance, as Pezeshkzad has talked about elsewhere, this angle is just not restricted to ‘widespread’ folks however is actually extra prevalent among the many so-called political and mental elite.”

That is one thing Pezeshkzad stated got here even from start in his household.

“After I was studying to speak, the phrases that I heard after bread, water, meat and so forth had been, ‘Sure. it’s the work of the British,” he as soon as advised a 2009 BBC documentary.

The publication of “My Uncle Napoleon” got here within the early Seventies, as literacy charges raced upward together with world oil costs, fueling the shah’s modernization efforts within the nation. The e book offered hundreds of thousands of copies and introduced in regards to the televised serial of the identical title three years later. Iranians bear in mind streets clearing in Tehran because it aired.

Pezeshkzad himself served as a cultural official within the Overseas Ministry underneath the shah. However quickly, he would flee Tehran eternally with the arrival of the Islamic Revolution, becoming a member of Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in Paris and his Nationwide Resistance Motion of Iran. Even the shah would blame the Soviets and British for having a hand in being in the end pushed from energy.

“By the point I wrote this novel, everybody had just about realized that British imperialism with all its energy and greatness had withered away,” he advised the BBC. “Nonetheless, I had underestimated this phobia and particularly after the revolution, I spotted it was — and nonetheless is — extraordinarily sturdy.”

He described having folks reward him for seeing the British hand the whole lot — the precise reverse of what he tried to say in his novel.

“I felt as if a bucket of chilly water had been poured over me,” he added.

He later moved to Los Angeles, the place he sometimes lectured at universities. In March 2020, he gave an interview to the tabloid Chelcheragh marking the Persian New 12 months, through which he described being unable to learn or write any longer attributable to macular degeneration. He stated these he as soon as knew in Tehran all had died with age, however he longed to return residence one final time.

“I want I might come to Iran. Go to my metropolis, my very own Tehran,” he stated. “How can an individual not miss his metropolis?”


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Related Press author Amir Vahdat in Tehran contributed to this report.

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Written by LessDaily.Com


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