A Tribute to Dick Davis

Introduced by Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, Editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica June 24, 2008

Professor Dick Davis, a noted English poet, has emerged as the foremost translator of a number of masterpieces of Persian poetry into English verse, thereby rendering a rare service to their widespread recognition.

Born in Portsmouth, England, in 1945, and educated at the universities of Cambridge (B.A. and M.A. in English Literature) and Manchester (PhD. in Medieval Persian Literature), Dick Davis spent eight years in Iran from 1971-1978, during which he taught English at the universities of Tehran (Iran), and spent time refining his Persian. He has taught at the universities of Durham (U.K.), Newcastle (U.K.), and California (Santa Barbara), and is currently Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Ohio State University.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (London). As author, translator or editor, he has produced over 20 books, including translation from Persian, Italian, and Greek.

Dick Davis’s translations from Persian verse include Attar’s “The Conference of the Birds” (Manteq al-Tayr) with Afkham Darbandi (Penguin Classics 1984); “The Legend of Seyavash” from the Shahnameh, (Penguin Classics 1992); the abridged translation of the Shahnameh in three volumes (Mage Publishers 1997, 2000, 2004) in prose and verse; and Gorgani’s “Vis and Ramin” (Mage Publishers 2008). Among his translations from contemporary Persian prose is his widely acclaimed “My Uncle Napoleon” (Dayi jan Napoleon by Iraj Pezeshkzad, Mage Publishers 1996; Modern Library, 2005). Among his scholarly works one may mention “Epic and Sedition: The Case of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh” (University of Arkansas Press 1993) and “Panthea’s Children: Hellenistic Novels and Medieval Persian Romances” (Bibliotheca Persica, 2002).

Davis has also published numerous volumes of his own poetry that reflect his prosodic skills and exceptional ability to write in different modes ranging from lyrical and dramatic to satiric, epigrammatic, and elegiac. These collections include “A Trick of Sunlight” (Ohio University Press 2006); “Belonging” (Anvil Press Poetry 2002); “A New Kind of Love” (University of Arkansas Press 1991); “Devices and Desires: New and Selected Poems 1967-1987” (Anvil Press Poetry 2002); and “Covenant Poems 1979-1983” (Learning Links 1989).

Location: University Club of New York
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