EʿTEṢĀMĪ,MĪRZĀ YŪSOF KHAN ĀŠTĪĀNĪ, EʿTEṢĀM-AL-MOLK (b. Tabrīz, 1291/1874; d. Tehran, 12 Dey 1316 Š./2 January 1938), Persian writer and journalist. His father, Mīrzā Ebrāhīm Khan Mostawfī Eʿteṣām-al-Molk, like many secretaries and accountants in the Qajar administration, came from Āštīān; he was appointed financial controller (mostawfī) of Azerbaijan and remained in Tabrīz until his death.

Eʿteṣāmī studied Arabic and Persian literature with his father and private tutors. He learned French and excelled in Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. It was through Ottoman sources in particular that he became acquainted with Western literatures. In the late 1890s he established the first typographical printing in Tabrīz. Only once was Eʿteṣāmī persuaded to accept, for a brief period, a political position, as member of the second Majles (1327-30/1909-12). In about 1912 he settled permanently in Tehran, where he devoted his energies almost entirely to intellectual pursuits, writing, and translating. During his later years he was appointed director of the Majles library and was also a member of the Education Commission (Komīsīūn-e maʿāref).

Eʿteṣāmī’s scholarly and literary output includes a three-volume catalogue of manuscripts in the Majles library (Fehrest-e Ketāb-ḵāna-ye Majles-e šūrā-ye mellī, Tehran, 1305-11 Š./1926-32) and about forty volumes of translations from Western poets and novelists, including Molière, Victor Hugo (Les miserables, tr. as Tīrabaḵtān I, Tehran, 1303 Š./1924), Jules Verne (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, tr. as Safīna-ye ḡāwwāṣa, Tehran, n.d.), and Friedrich Schiller (Kabale und Liebe, tr. as Ḵodʿa wa ʿešq, Tehran 1325/1907). Early in his career he had translated into Arabic a book on the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (Ṯawrat al-Hend, Cairo, 1900; J. Zaydān in al-Helāl 9/6, 1900, p. 191). He is also the author of Qalāʾed al-adab fī šarḥ aṭwāq al-ḏahab (Cairo, 1903), a commentary in Arabic on Abu’l-Qāsem Maḥmūd Zamaḵšarī’s Aṭwāq al-ḏahab (Tabrīz, 1902). His translations from Arabic include a book on women’s education by Qāsem Amīn (Taḥrīr al-marʾa, tr. as Tarbīat-e neswān, Tabrīz, 1318/1900; al-Helāl, op. cit.). His last book, a translation (from French?), was Sīāḥat-nāma-ye Fīṯāḡūres (Tehran, 1314 Š./1935; original author unknown). He is best known, however, as the founder of the monthly Bahār (q.v.) and author of most of its articles, which were aimed at shaping a more secular and social view of life at an early stage in the modernization of Persia. His liberal and humanistic approach served as a model for a generation of younger journalists and writers.

Eʿteṣāmī was married and had four sons and a daughter, the famous poet Parvīn Eʿteṣāmī (q.v.). His wife died in 1973 and was buried next to him in Qom.


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

Āryanpūr, Az Ṣabā tā Nīmā II, pp. 112-15.

Bāmdād, Rejāl IV, p. 493.

Browne, Press and Poetry, p. 130.

ʿA.-A. Dehḵodā, “Tārīḵča-ye zendagānī-e pedar-e šāʿer Yūsof Eʿteṣāmī (Eʿteṣām-al-Molk),” in A. Eʿteṣāmī, ed., Majmūʿa-ye maqālāt wa qaṭaʿāt-e ašʿār, 6th repr., Tehran 1353 Š./1974, pp. 70-74.

Mošār, Moʾallefīn VI, pp. 880-81. M. Qazvīnī, “Wafayāt-e moʿāṣerīn,” Yādgār 3/3, 1325 Š./1946, pp. 27-39.

Ṣadr Hāšemī, Jarāʾed o majallāt II, pp. 26-30.

(Heshmat Moayyad)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 19, 2012

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