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A late start to the New Year, and the Sad Passing of Professor J T P de Bruijn

February 2, 2023

First, we send all blog readers very belated greetings for the arrival of the New Year 2023. For us, the new year arrived late due to illness, and it is only now that we are able gradually to pick up our blogging pens again. Plenty of new contributions await posting, so please watch this space.

Secondly, Barney Rickenbacker has alerted us to the news of the sad passing of the great scholar Professor J T P de Bruijn. Professor de Bruijn was known world wide for his work on, and promotion of, Persian literature and Persian poetry, and his many publications on these and other topics. He will be much missed. There is a very beautiful and moving tribute to the Professor, by his friend and student Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, circulated in Adabiat. We quote below from the beginning of the tribute. It ends with a quotation from Omar Khayyam. The full text is available via and on

Asghar writes as follows.

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Professor Hans (J.T.P.) de Bruijn, the renowned author of Of Piety and Poetry, and my beloved, generous and learned mentor and friend, a man of outstanding integrity and erudition. He was first my teacher, then my PhD supervisor and remained my support and refuge after his retirement. I sparred over new ideas with him, and he was a source of inspiration. Over the years, he had become like a father to me.

Professor de Bruijn was born on 12 July 1931 in Leiden and died on 23 January 2023 in Voorhout, the Netherlands. He studied Semitic languages, and as minors Persian and Turkish at Leiden University. From 1954 to 1960 he collaborated in the Concordance et Indices de la Tradition Musulmane project, which was published under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam. He also contributed to the editing of the English version of Jan Rypka’s History of Iranian Literature, which was published in Dordrecht in 1968. From 1960 to 1963, he was Curator of the Middle Eastern Department at the Dutch National Museum of Ethnology. In 1964 he joined the staff of Leiden University, where he took the chair of Persian in 1988. He built up a Persian department that included expertise on Shiism, Sufism, and modern Persian literature.

From our first meeting in 1989 at the Witte Singel Complex in Leiden until a few years ago before he fell ill, he kept making plans to advance Persian and Iranian Studies. He was without doubt a pillar in our field in Europe and his passing creates a deep scholarly gap in the field. He was an inspiring authority on Persian literature, Islamic mysticism, Iranian languages and linguistics, and Iranian history.

Professor de Bruijn collaborated with major projects advancing the field of Persian and Iranian Studies. He collaborated with the late Dr Ehsan Yarshater, first as an advisor and contributor to Encylopeadia Iranicaand later as a vice-chair and editor of the 20-volume History of Persian Literature. His entries for the Encyclopaedia Iranica cover Persian literature, the history of Oriental Studies, and Persian manuscripts.Another collaboration which certainly deserves to be mentioned here is his contribution to theEncyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition (1970-2005). He was involved with this Encyclopaedia project for a long time, as an executive member, but also as a regular contributor. He published articles on Persian culture, literature, religions and history. In the last ten years of his active career, he was entirely devoted to editing the first volume of the History of Persian Literature and writing chapters for other volumes. Several of these chapters have the scope of books. His outstanding chapter on the Persian ghazal offers an indispensable survey of the genre in Persian literature, a model of how to analyse Persian ghazals, of how these poems can be approached as texts for religious and secular rituals, and why they became a central poetic form in Persian and, under Persian influence, in other Islamic literatures. (Tribute continued elsewhere – see references above).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2023 3:08 pm

    Dear Sandy and Bill, So sorry to hear you had not been well. Delighted to get this post. Lots of love, Andrew

  2. February 2, 2023 3:51 pm

    Thanks Andrew. Things are finally improving and it’s good for the mind and spirit to get back to a little blogging. Love to all in Wales.

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