Hassan Shahbaz was born
in the city of Babol, Province of Mazandaran in Northern Iran on March 13, 1922. He
passed away on May 7th, 2006 in Los Angeles. Hassan established
himself as one of the greatest writers, journalists and translators of Iran in 20th century.
During the1920’s, Hossein
Shahbazian - his father, whose ancestors emigrated from Baku, Russia and spoke Russian fluently - was a clerk in the Russian Bank “Esteghrazi”. In 1926, after the
closure of the bank his father moved the family (a wife, three daughters and
his five year old son - Hassan) to Isfahan.
Hassan was enrolled in Stewart Memorial College and stopped attending school due to unexpected developments in his
father’s life - which ended in his father’s imprisonment in Arak. Hassan, his
mother and sisters packed and relocated to Arak as well. The family lived there
from 1936 to 1942 until the Allied Forces entered Iran. For awhile, Hassan made
a living teaching English, and was later employed by Anglo Iranian Oil Company.
Simultaneously, with the help of the famous blind Scholar Dr. Mohammad Khazaeli,
he continued his studies and received his high school diploma in 1940. He
relocated to Tehran and became friends with many scholars including Mirza
Mohammad Ghazvini (Allameh). He married Batool Abdolvahabi (Ghazvini’s niece) in
1942, and conceived two children - Faramarz and Guiti. In the years to follow,
he was a translator for foreign companies, wrote articles for newspapers/
magazines, translated books, and was a contractor for Allied Forces in Iran - purchasing goods.
In 1948, Hassan’s life
was shattered by the death of his beloved mother causing him to loss focus on
life. He is later quoted as saying "my mother’s death broke my heart and
I lost my vision in life”. He knew his mother had so much hope for his future
and believed that her son was destined to become a famous scholar someday.
After a period of mourning, Hassan decided to pursue his dream of becoming a
The launch of achieving
his dream was in 1949, when he landed the editorial position at the News Desk of
the Embassy of Pakistan. Which later lead to his hire at the American Embassy Cultural
and News Center. By the spring of 1950, Hassan was well on track of his aspiration
and even received a scholarship to attend at Wayne University in Detroit, Michigan - to study programming for Radio and Television. Following completion at
Wayne University, he returns back to Iran and furthers his career with a
position working with Voice of America (Persian Section) at the American
Embassy. While his career was in flourish the same could be said of his home
life. Hassan and Batool were divorced in 1953.
In the meantime, he becomes
accentuated with Dr. Lotfali Souratgar, Dean of the College of Literature at the University of Tehran and Hassan continues his higher education to later
receive a degree in English Literature.
his years at the American Embassy Hassan makes friends with a great many
high society Iranians. His home became the center of gatherings for all -
poets, musicians, famous singers, artists, politicians and scholars would
congregate there. Many a nights turned to days with new horizon in sight before
the gatherings would end. It would bring to mind the Salons of Paris.
Hassan Shahbaz had an
amazing memory. He could recite poems from present to classical past poets
without looking at the books. His knowledge of Persian music and Dastgah such
as “Dashti, Homayoun, and Segah……” astonished people. He was a great orator who
knew how to capture the audience when he talked. Above all, Hassan was a people
person with talent for knowing how to treat each person as if at the moment he
or she was the most important. Children and adults adored and respected him.
He managed a modest life
style with his various jobs and his writings. In his book “Pride and Sorrow”
he tells us while at the same time as working for the American Embassy Cultural Center he wrote, directed and performed programs for Radio Iran.
In 1960, one of his closest
friends, Mr. Moinian became minister of Advertising and Etelaat in charge of
Radio. This gave Hassan the opportunity to take on more responsibilities at
the radio. He created the famous radio program “Learn about the Greatest Classical
Works of the World” which aired many years and was one of the most popular
radio programs at the time. Other programs such as “The Myths of Life”, “Dr.
Khoshghadam”, “The Late Night Show” and “Conversations with Our Listeners” made
Hassan Shahbaz a household name.
By 1964, he resigned from
American Cultural Center and continued his profession in “Vezarat Etelaat and
Radio Tehran” - which by then was called “Edareh Koleh Entesharat va Radio”. At
this juncture in his life he met Reza Ghotbi - the head of the “Iranian National
Television” and was invited to join him.
By now, according to his
book Pride and Sorrow - he is at the pinnacle of his fame. From then on he became
Senior Advisor to Mr. Ghotbi and the representative of “Iranian National Television
and Radio” in “International Conferences of Radio and Television Unions of Asia
and Australia” and one of its main speakers and most popular representative.
For more than ten years he attended all the conferences with his close friend
and Vice President of “Iranian National Radio and Television” Mr. Kambiz
Mahmoudi. Due to these extensive travels around the world he meets Heads of State,
famous performers, actors/ actresses, scholars and writers - which later lead
him to strengthen his will to pursue his writings and research.
Hassan’s first serious
body of work is the translation of “Woodworm” written by Marie Corelli which he
named “Sargozasht”. This book went to print and sold out. Sargozasht has since
been reprinted several times. Followed by, the translation of “Que Vadis” by
Henry Sienkievich which he called this book “Havass Hai Emperatour”.
From 1940 to 1979, before
the Islamic Revolution, Hassan’s body of works can be divided in two forms:
Translation of books
Research, Compiling, Writing and Translation
list of all his works, year of prints and reprints are on the last page of this
all his research and writings, unfortunately because “Book Review” was not
customary common in Iran, we have no basis to find reviews done on all the body
of his works. What we know though, is that his style of writing is simple and
poetic. Hassan gravitates towards Romanticism style of literature written between
18th and 19th century in Western Europe. He had a great
command of English Language. It seems not too many Iranians were familiar with
the literary works of Europe. He introduced this style of romanticism and
naturalism. Most of his books were read throughout Iran and reprinted even up
to eight times.
his translations were published in magazines and papers before they became
his literary works have a higher place amongst his research and translations
Compiling and writing abstracts of the most famous,
popular and bestseller literary books of the world, from ancient times to 20th
century, (in four volumes). It is estimated he started working on this project in
1964 and finished by 1978. The first volume was published in 1974; the printing
of the remaining three volumes was finished by 1981. “he planned to work on more volumes but revolution and
emigrating to USA, and lack of money and resources put a stop to this project”
four volumes introduces one hundred and twenty poets and writers from all over
the world, such as Greece, China, USA, France, England, Italy and so forth,
with introducing and compiling one book from each writer. These volumes enable
Iranian to educate themselves with world literary works and biography of their
Translation of T.S. Eliot’s famous book of poems,
Wasteland. This translation is named “Sarzamin Bihassel”. Dr. Ehsan Yarshater from
“Encyclopedia Iranica” nominated this book to Columbia University “Society of
International Translators” and won Hassan Shahbaz the prestigious “Thornton
Wilder Literary Award”
Shortly after the 1979
revolution in Iran, Hassan had no choice but to leave his beloved country and
move to Washington DC. He moved to Los Angeles, California a year later, where
he lived - until his death in May 2006.
In Los Angeles, with the
financial help of some of his friends, Hassan established a Quarterly Persian
Journal of Iranian Studies. His friends joined in as well to help by submitting
articles or helping in editing the articles. The first issue of “Rahavard Persian
Journal” came out in the spring of 1982. By the twentieth issue Rahavard
consisted of seven sections:
Culture, Literature, Art, Religion and Philosophy
History of Iran
Book Introduction and Review
Poems and Poets
Letters to the Editor
In the above sections,
people who were instrumental in shaping Iran during the Shah’s reign and the
beginning of the revolution; wrote their memoirs or Articles. Writers included
politicians, bankers, military, industrialists, and much more.
Dr. Jamshid Amouzgar
(volumes 32, 33, 34, 39, and 42)
Sharif Emami, former Prime
Minister and Speaker of the House, (Volumes 36 and 37)
Mehdi Bazargan Prime
Minister during revolution (volumes 36 and 38)
General Fereydoun Jam
(volumes from 20 to 60)
General Jafar Sanei
(volumes 74 to 78)
Ali Rezai (volume 49)
Hassan Azinfar (volumes
28 through 69)
Book Review Section has introduced over four hundred books written inside or
outside of Iran by Iranians or about Iran by foreigners.
The publication of
Rahavard was sporadic and sometimes two issues were published in one volume.
This was the case until the twenty-second issue when the publication became
organized and was released on an established schedule.
In total over three
thousand articles have been written thus far in Rahavard, three hundred of them
were written by Hassan Shahbaz. Some of his articles have even been published
By 1989, Rahavard was an
established publication and Hassan had well surpassed his dream of only wanting
to be a writer and now was pursuing the preservation of the Iranian culture and
Persian literature. His personal life was also taking a new direction.
Establishing himself as a permanent bachelor, he fell in love with Ms. Sholeh
Shams at the beginning of 1989. By 1992, he married the second love of his
life. Ms. Shams was teaching at College, however, she became involved with
Rahavard. She was instrumental in computerizing Rahavard administration, took
over managing finances, and in the evenings helped edit articles.
By the year 2005, he was at
the pinnacle of his success. Friends and supporters celebrated the twenty fifth
year of the publication of Rahavard and honored Hassan’s dedication to preserving
the culture of Iran and Persian literature. Rahavard released a special issue (seventieth
issue) to commemorate this event.
As Hassan was aging, he
became less involved in Rahavard. The last published Rahavard before his
demise was the seventy-fourth issue. Rahavard Persian Journal is still being
published and to date marks the seventy-ninth issue.
LIST OF HIS PUBLISHED
1- Sienkiewicz, Henrique. Quo Vadis (Kojamiravi), The. 1943, tenth ed. 1973.
2 – Corelli, Marie. Wormwood (Sargozasht), The. 1944, fifth ed. 1964.
3 –De Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca (Rebecca) The. 1954, tenth ed. 1978
4 – Mitchell, Margaret, Gone with the Wind (Bar Baad Rafteh) The. 1959. Two vol. Sixth ed. 1999.
5 – (nineteen short stories from American writers)
Collection of Short Stories Teh. 1974. Third ed. 1979.
6 – Downing, Roland. The Long Walk, (Rahe bi Payan), the. 1957
کتاب های جهانCollection of the world famous books in 4 volumes, Teh.74-1976
19 First ed.1981 Third ed.
collection includes 120 books (from ancient times to current) of 120
outstanding world writers
B- Research, critics and writings
8 –(Collection of 29 of the most popular Operas)
Famous Operas The Teh.
9 – Gitangali, Rabindranath Tagore (compiling from research on eighteen books) The. 1979.
10 – Eliot, T. S., Wasteland, (Sarzamineh Bihasel) Teh. 1979, , second ed. 1983.
11- (Gote) Faust
12 – (Balzac’s
فرانسوا ولترFrancois Voltaire)) Candid The. 1985.
C – Rahavard, Quarterly Persian Magazine, and Memories
14 – 74
ره آورد،(74 Volumes of Rahavard Persian Journal) لوس
آنجلس، از سال
1385 - 1361
غرور و مصیبت،
& Sorrow (Hassan Shahbaz autobiography) ، 1378.
(دفتر شعر) با
گام های خسته
در دشت های
دورWith weary Steps in Faraway Land ,
(Collection of his poems)، لوس
خاطره یک عشقMemories of a Love, ، لوس
18 - سخن
های پراکنده، Sporadic Conversations لوس