ĀZĀD TABRIZI, MIRZĀ ḤOSAYN (also spelled Hocéne-Azad; “Ḥasan” in Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, p. 207, is a misprint), physician, anthologist, and translator (b. Tehran, ca. 1854; d. Paris, 1936). His father, Mirzā Yusof Khan Mostašār-al-Dawla (d. 1895), who served as a Persian diplomat in Saint Petersburg, Tbilisi and Paris, sympathized with the political ideas of Mirzā Malkom Khan, whom he had met in Europe and remained in contact with. Mostašār-al-Dawla advocated social and administrative reforms, which he elaborated in his writings, among them in the pamphlet Yak kalema (One word) and in a letter addressed to the crown prince Moẓaffar-al-Din Mirzā. (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, p. 761; Nāẓem-al-Eslām, I, pp. 169-77; Ādamiyat, pp. 196 ff.; Algar, pp. 139-41). Āzād was sent to Paris at a very young age in 1864, where he started his studies with a tutor before he could enter a regular school (Ruz-nāma-ye dawlat-e ʿaliya-ye Irān, apud Hāšemiān, p. 369; Sparroy, p. 167); he eventually enrolled at a medical college. He was in England on vacation when the Franco-German war of 1870-71 broke out, so he continued his studies in London and returned to Paris after he received his degree. He eventually obtained his “doctorat en médicine” in Paris and returned to Persia in 1882 (Sparroy, pp. 167-68). On the recommendation of Dr. Joséph Desirée Tholozan, the physician of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, he was employed by Ẓell-al-Solṭān Masʿud Mirzā, the brother of Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah and governor of Isfahan, as his confidant and personal physician. A sketch of his personality during his stay at the court of Isfahan was written by Wilfrid Sparroy, the English tutor of the Ẓell-al-Soltān’s children, who describes him as a man of modest means due to his honesty (Sparroy, pp. 158, 161-63). Āzād spent a great deal of his time on collecting Persian manuscripts and studying miniature painting; he had developed a keen interest in painting since childhood (Ruz-nāma-ye ʿaliya-ye Irān, apud Hāšemiān, p. 369; Sparroy, pp. 164-66). Shocked by the fate of his father, who died after havomg beem tortured in a Qajar prison (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, pp. 761, 803; Algar, p. 204; Bāmdād, IV, p. 493), and frustrated by the humiliating services that he had to render at the court of the Ẓell-al-Solṭān, he was looking for a chance to leave Persia. In 1898 he took advantage of the World Exhibition in Paris to leave for France, where he remained and devoted the rest of his days to his researches in the Bibliothèque Nationale. He made friends with Edgar Blochet, the French Orientalist and keeper of the Oriental manuscripts in this library, but shunned all contacts with his compatriots. He died when he was overrun by a car on a Paris street. His extensive collection of books and manuscripts was auctioned at Quaritch in London.
While still in Persia, Āzād revealed to Sparroy his ambition to compose an extensive book in French on illustrated Persian manuscripts (Sparroy, pp. 164 ff.). Though he did not realize this project, he published four anthologies of Persian poetry in French translation during his self-imposed exile. The first, Les perles de la couronne (Paris, 1903), contained fragments from the ḡazals of Bābā Faḡāni; the last, Guêpes et papillons (Paris, 1916), is a collection of Persian epigrams. Of greater interest are the other two anthologies, to each of which a companion volume with the Persian texts was printed in the Netherlands: La roserarie du savoir/Golzār-e maʿrefat (2 vols., Paris and Leiden, 1906) is a collection of 470 mystical quatrains, intended to show Western readers that Persia had produced many other great poets of robāʿiyāt besides ʿOmar Ḵayyām. In L’aube de l’espérance/Sobḥ-e ommid (Paris and Leiden, 1909), he assembled selections from Persian maṯnawis. A remarkable feature of these volumes is Āzād’s erudite commentary, which shows his great knowledge of Western literature. The last-mentioned anthologies inspired two prominent Dutch poets, Jan Hendrik Leopold (1865-1925) and P. C. Boutens (1870-1943), to adaptations of Persian poems on the basis of Āzād’s French versions. Vera Kubíčková translated poems from the Golzār-e maʿrefat into Czech.
Faridun Ādamiyat, Andiša-ye tarraqi wa ḥokumat-e qānun dar ʿaṣr-e sepahsālār, Tehran, 1972.
Hamid Algar, Mīrzā Malkum Khān: A Biographical Study inIranian Modernism, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1973.
Mehdi Bāmdād, Šarḥ-e ḥāl-e rejāl-e Irān ..., 2nd print, Tehran, 1992, I p. 378; IV, pp. 490-93.
P. C. Boutens, Oudperzische kwatrijnen, Bussman, 1930.
Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Ruz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt-e Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, ed. Iraj Afšār, Tehran, 1975.
Aḥmad (Iraj) Hāšemiān, Taḥawwolāt-e farhangi-e Irān dar dawra-ye Qājāriya wa madrasaye Dāral-Fonun, Tehran, 2000, pp. 368-69, 417.
V. Kubíčková, Rubáìját: Vybor ze starych perskych mystiku (with an introduction by Jan Rypka), Prague, 1948.
Jan Hendrik Leopold, Oostersch, The Hague, 1922.
Homā Nāṭeq, Kār-nāma-ye farhangi-e farangi dar Irān, Paris, 1976, p. 86.
Nāẓem-al-Eslām Kermāni, Tāriḵ-e bidāri-e Irāniān, ed. ʿAli-Akbar Saʿidi Sirjāni, 2 vols., Tehran, 1983.
Wilfrid Sparroy, Persian Children of the Royal Family: The Narrative of an English Tutor at the Court of H. I. H. Zillu’s-Sultan, London and New York, 1902, pp. 130, 150, 157-75.
(J. T. P. de Bruijn)
Originally Published: July 20, 2002
Last Updated: August 18, 2011