Homa Katouzian is a lecturer on Persian literature and Iranian history at the University of Oxford, where he is also a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies as well as a Research Fellow at the Iran Heritage Foundation at St. Antony’s College. He organized two international conferences in 2003 and 2004 respectively: the Hedayat Centenary and Iran Facing the New Century. Katouzian serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Library of Iranian Studies in London and is an editor for the Iranian Studies academic journal. Moreover, he is an active member of the Editorial Board of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
His recent books are: Sa’di in Love: An Anthology of Sa’di’s love lyrics in Persian and English (in the press); Iran: Politics, History and Literature (hb and pb, 2013); Iran: A Beginners’ Guide (2013); The Persians: Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Iran (2009 and 2010); Sadeq Hedayat, His Work and His Wondrous World, ed., (2008 and 2011); Iran in the 21st Century, co-ed (with Hossein Shahidi), (hb&pb, 2007); Iranian History and Politics, the Dialectic of State and Society,(2003 and 2007); Sa’di, the Poet of Life, Love and Compassion, (2006); State and Society in Iran: The Eclipse of the Qajars and the Rise of the Pahlavis, (2000 and 2006); Sadeq Hedayat: The Life and Legend of an Iranian Writer,(1991and 2002); Musaddiq and the Struggle for Power in Iran (1990 and 1999).
“It was believed to be very good by the Iranian people who aspired to have a railway system, or the foundation of the ancient Iranian Museum and once the foundation of the National Iranian Library. …but, then there was the repression and illiberalism and eventually arbitrary rule, as I call it. That is to say government that is not abound by any legal restraint and that was what made Reza Shah, for example, very unpopular in his own time.”
“The most outstanding still is Sadeq Hedayat. Hedayat was born in 1903 to a well-known and influential and very wealthy family and he went for part of his school, attend his school education to a French missionary school in Tehran and learned French very well as a result and later he went to Europe. And after a few years, about five years, he returned to Iran. And he returned to Iran and began his career as a short story writer and later a novelist in the case of one or two novels that he wrote, very slim ones. The most famous of which is The Blind Owl and which is, you know kind of modern classic. And he didn’t have a particularly successful career or very happy life. As a result of which, he ended up by committing suicide in Paris in 1951, early in 1951.”
“You observe the influence of a revolutionary and radical change of the time in the whole world. I mean, such as, for example, the revolution in Cuba, the revolution in Algeria, or the war in Vietnam, or the struggle in Palestine. All these events tend to make a large impact… but in Iran also particularly because people intellectuals are opposed to governments whom they believed were in league with the America.”