GELPKE, RUDOLF, Swiss scholar, writer, and translator of Persian literature (b. Waldenburg, Switzerland, 24 December, 1928; d. 19 January 1972; Figure 1). He was educated at the universities of Basel, Zürich, and Berlin. He became a noted writer in his early twenties, and his novel Holger und Mirjam was published in Zürich in 1951. His interests in the Islamic world began after a visit to Tunisia in 1952. As a result, he chose Islamic Studies as his main academic field in 1953, and completed his university education in 1957 under Fritz Meier at Basel with a Ph.D. dissertation on the life of the Ghaznavid Sultan Masʿūd (published as Sulṭān Masʿūd I. von Gazna: die drei ersten Jahre seiner Herrschaft, Munich, 1957). After a six months stay at the University of Tehran in 1958, and another trip to Persia in 1960, he submitted his habilitationsschrift on Persian prose literature in the 20th century to the University of Berne in 1961 under the direction of Georges Redard (first part published as Die iranische Prosaliteratur im 20. Jahrhundert,Wiesbaden, 1962). He taught in 1962-63 as an associate professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. From 1963 to 1971 he lived in Tehran as a freelance writer and translator.

Gelpke’s works include numerous essays on Persian culture and German translations of Persian literature, both classical and modern, notably: Neẓāmī, Haft paykar (Die sieben Geschichten der sieben Prinzessinnen, Zürich, 1959); Laylī o Majnūn (Leila und Madschnun, Zürich, 1963); Saʿdī, Golestān (Hundertundeine Geschichte aus dem Rosengarten, Zürich, 1967); Naqīb-al-Mamālek, Amīr Arsalān (Liebe und Abenteuer des Amir Arsalan ; Zürich, 1965); Persische Meistererzähler der Gegenwart (Zürich, 1961); and Neue Liebesgeschichten aus Tausendundeine Nacht (Zürich, 1969).


Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: February 7, 2012

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Vol. X, Fasc. 4, p. 396