A Man of Contrasts
A number of contrasting, and perhaps complementary, personal and scholarly traits distinguished my old friend, Mohammad Dja`far Mahdjoub. A man of keen perception and sharp intellect, with a prodigious memory brimming with esoteric secrets and anecdotes, he was nevertheless basically a simple man in his manners and straightforward in his friendship. His constant quest for knowledge, and his passion for discovering the hidden treasures of Persian folklore and literature bordered on greed and yet his generosity in sharing his literary finds with his colleagues and students was boundless.
He was both an innovator and a traditionalist. Deeply devoted to the Persian classical literature, he respected its tradition, had mastered its nuances and knew a great deal about its particular characteristics. And yet he was also recognized as a great innovator and trail blazer, since, with the exception of Sadeq Hedayat and precious few others, no one had taken the Persian folkloric tradition and popular culture as seriously as he had. He had indeed been credited for having found a "lost chapter in the Persian literary history. Iran."
In his private life too, Mahdjoub displayed contrasting traits of modesty and audacity. Thus, he was, at times__true to the meaning of his name__reserved and deferential, and at other times, quite outspoken and willing to display his free spirit under the most restrictive of circumstances. His speech intonations were not unlike those of story-tellers and traditional athletes whom he had come to know and admire in his youth. His writing style, however, had clearly been inspired by the styles of his most beloved masters of Persian literature and literary history, such as Forouzanfar, Homa'i and Khanlari.