Iranian Jewish Culure
Moshfegh Hamedani

Moshfegh Hamedani

Legendary Journalist, Author, Translator, Publisher


Moshfegh Hamedani is a well-known and revered name in the history of Iranian publication. Mr. Moshfegh Hamedani spent more than half of a century of his productive life as an experienced journalist in the tempestuous oceans of Iranian politics and literature.

Rabi’ Moshfegh Hamedani was born in March 1912 C.E. to a religious Jewish family of Hamedan. His father, Davoud Kohan (David Cohen) was a famed businessman, well-read and well-educated, who was consistently serious about the education of his children.

Rabi’ Moshfegh Hamedani began his elementary studies at the early age of five in the Alliance Israélite of Hamedan, before completing his high school studies at the Pahlavi High School of the said city. His evident gift and passion for knowledge drove him to finish high school one year too early. Still in high school, he prepared his Persian translation of Metaphysics of Love from the French text of this most difficult work by Schopenhauer, which he published in two volumes. In 1931, he left for Tehran in pursuit of a higher education.

At 15, he had taught French for a year at the Alliance Israélite of Hamedan. Now in Tehran, and given his mastery of the language, the 19-year old Rabi’ was appointed as the French instructor at the famed Darol-Fonoun School. In 1934 he was drafted to fulfill his obligatory military service. Afterwards, he was employed officially as a translator by Iran Newspaper with Hossein-Gholi Mosta’an as its chief editor. This launched his career as a journalist and author, which soon included collaborations with Mehr and Mehrgan newspapers, as well.

Moshfegh Hamedani resumed his studies in the Higher Education School of Tehran University. In 1937, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Educational Sciences, and he was immediately employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the most sensitive years of World War II, his demonstrated meritorious services at the Ministry earned him a major promotion, and he was appointed as the director of the only news agency in Iran, The Pars News Agency. Every day for five years, he would send a copy of the latest news via messenger to the Royal Court to inform Reza Shah Pahlavi of the content of the news and to give him time to censor them before publication. About that time, he published his first original book, Love and Love. He also published Azordegan (1948), his Persian translation of Dostoevsky’s major work, Insulted and Humiliated, which for the first time allowed Iranian readers at large to learn of the great Russian author. In the years between, in 1940 and at the beginning of the occupation of Iran by the Allied forces, together with Dr. Mesbah-zadeh and Abdol Rahman Faramarzi, Moshfegh Hamedani played a significant role in founding the Kayhan Daily, a prominent national newspaper, and for seven years, he personally acted as its chief editor.

In 1943, and at the midst of WWII, he married Farrokh Fa’ezi Ekbātāni, and the couple brought two children to the world. Dr. Siavash Moshfegh is a scholar of the physics of laser and its applications, while their daughter, Vida Moshfegh Hamedani has followed in her father’s footsteps as a professional translator, especially known for her translation of the complete works of the Italian journalist, Oriana Fallaci.

Moshfegh Hamedani further expanded his cultural endeavors when in 1949, he realized one of his oldest dreams and founded the famed Safi Ali-Shah Publishing Institution. Moreover, he managed personally to obtain the permit to found and publish a political magazine named Kavian. The magazine set out to expend its vast efforts in supporting Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh’s policy of nationalization of the oil industry.

In 1951, Moshfegh Hamedani was among a select team of experts to be invited to the United States by President Harry Truman, a trip that coincided with Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh’s defense at the United Nations. His support of Dr. Mosaddegh’s anti-colonial policies gradually found new dimensions, until August 19th, 1953, when after the fall of Dr. Mosaddegh’s government, the offices of Kavian Magazine were set to fire by the agents of the coup, and its licensee Moshfegh Hamedani was sent to jail. He was released from prison through the intervention of Sepahbod (Lieutenant General) Zahedi, but he refused to compromise and cooperate with Sepahbod (Lieutenant General) Bakhtiar, and as such, he was asked to leave Iran as soon as possible. In other words, he was politely sent to exile.

In 1955, Moshfegh Hamedani hurried out of his homeland, leaving behind all his material belongings and spiritual attachments, what he had saved through years of hard work, on the one hand, and his fame, good name, social status, secrets of the heart and patriotic feelings, on the other. His wife and children still in Iran, he traveled alone to Italy and settled nearby an old friend in Milan. Before long, he founded an import company to bring in Persian rugs to Italy, and soon enough, he began to learn the Italian language.

Within less than two years, his wife and children joined him in Milan. About that time, then equipped with his knowledge of Italian, Moshfegh Hamedani began to translate significant works of the Italian literature to Persian. He further expanded his career into the movie business and began to translate and dub Italian films for the first time in Persian. Produced in Italy, his work covered the works of some of the masters of the Italian cinema, including Vittorio de Sica, Alberto Sordi, and other famous Italian actors and directors of the time.

Four years later, in 1959, Moshfegh Hamedani returned from exile, and within two years, he reopened his Kavian Magazine in Tehran. He then translated and published several books, before returning to Italy. Thence, he pursued his tireless cultural ventures simultaneously and seriously in both Iran and Italy. On his next trip to Iran in 1963, he had several of his translations published. He was also employed as the Director of Public Relations by the Ministry of Energy, even as he continued to direct both the Safi Ali-Shah Publication and the Kavian Printing. In 1984, Moshfegh Hamedani left for Italy with his family, and shortly afterwards, he immigrated to the United States.

During his two decades of life in Italy, he translated numerous books to Persian, as well as writing several original works. Not only he maintained his relationship to both Kavian Printing and Safi Ali-Shah Publication in Tehran, which by then were run by his brother, but also he remained in contact with several Iranian publishing houses, including arguably the greatest of them, the Amir Kabir Publishing Institution. Once settled in Los Angeles, and even though in the age of retirement, he continued intensely his cultural interests. In 1991, almost 80 years young, he published a volume in Persian entitled The Memoirs of Half of a Century in Journalism, oversaw the 18th edition of his 1960’s novel in Persian, Tahsil-kardeha “The Educated People”, and published his translation of Tolstoy’s Letters in Tehran.

Moshfegh Hamedani’s major works, original or translated, amount to more than 50 volumes, and that’s besides hundreds of essays and articles, short stories, socio-philosophical discussions, and political commentaries, which were published during his more than 50 years of life in journalism in Iranian press, or which were widely broadcast on the national Radio Iran.

Rabi’ Moshfegh Hamedani died on October 1st, 2009, at the age of 96, in Los Angeles.

Besides Love and Love and The Educated People, he was also know for Delhore-haye Javani “The Anxieties of Youth”, and Filsufak “The Little Philosopher”, which was left unfinished at the time of his death.

The following is a partial list of his output, which clearly indicates the extent of the influence of this highly prolific literary and political figure. Moshfegh Hamedani’s numerous translations and original volumes included Madame Bovary (Flaubert), The Land and People of Netherlands, The Techniques of Living, Insulted and Humiliated (Dostoevsky), Idiot (ditto) ,The Karamazov Brothers (ditto), School and the Student, School and Society, Ethics and Personality, Schiller’s Masterpieces, The Thoughts of Schopenhauer, Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), Stalin, Napoleon, Psychology for Everyone, Sociology, Psychology of Children, Personal Magnetism, Mind in Psychology, The Miracle of Psychoanalysis, Tolstoy’s Letters, and tens of other volumes.

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