Flames Under the Window

Referring to the deliberate destruction of parts of Taqizadeh’s personal papers, notes and correspondence by his wife, the author elaborates on the age-old reluctance of Iranian statesmen and politicians to preserve their private papers for posterity. He suggests that burning and otherwise destroying potentially valuable personal documents, books and manuscripts has been a documented practice in Iran. This practice, according to the author, had its roots in antiquity where at times writers or translators along with their writings and translations were burned.    
In a detailed description of specific cases of actual or attempted destruction of personal documents, the author refers to a number of well-known contemporary Iranian political personalities, scholars and writers including Taqizadeh, Badi’al-Zaman Foruzanfar, Mahmud Afshar, Sadeq Hedayat, Sadeq Chubak, and Asadollah Alam.

Recalling the practice of the censors of the Islamic Republic of Iran in shredding or pulping the published copies of undesirable books, the author refrains from condemning the destruction of some of Taqizadeh’s notes and letters by his wife on the ground that they might have met the same fate had they been spared by her. In further elaboration of this point of view, the author cites the scathing criticism leveled by the late Sa’idi Sirjani against Taqizadeh for his famous disclaimer of responsibility and intent in signing the 1933 oil agreement. It is in such atmosphere of suspicion, animosity and intolerance, the author suggests, that the tradition of destroying private and public documents is destined to survive.

M E Bastani Parizi
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