Do Qarn Sokout [Two Centuries of Silence]

Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub (1923-1999)

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Published: 1957
Page #: 308
ISBN: 1-56859-325-2
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NOTE: This second and uncensored edition of the book, published in 1957, is in Persian and is currently available in PDF version only. This PDF version is delivered electronically to your personal library.

Author’s Preface to the Second Edition.

“Thus I saw that everyone who writes a book looks at it later and says: ‘Had that statement been thus, it would have been better, and had I added that other word, it would have better conveyed the meaning.’” --Quoted from Emad-Kateb

In my revision of this book for a new printing, I did not consider it fair to have the same book reprinted without any subtractions or additions. Is there anyone who looks through a book he has written some years earlier and does not find it to have excesses and shortcomings? It is not only the likes of Emad-Kateb who has suffered such mental anxiety, but many people have the same preoccupation regarding the work they have done previously. Had my motivation, however, been merely mental anxiety, I would have been satisfied with replacing a few of the words and shifting the position of some phrases forward or backward. In revising a book, many people do not do anything more; but I changed the arrangement and the style of the initial book and started the work anew. Of all the suggestions that scholars and critics had made about the previous edition, I gratefully accepted that which I found to be relevant and made revisions. When one seeks the truth, why would it be necessary for me to defend an idea that I had previously held by mistake and be unfair with futile stubbornness and contumacy? Hence, in the opportunity that I found for revision, I picked up my pen and crossed out as false all that seemed doubtful, dark, and incorrect in my book. Many of these doubtful and dark instances were cases in which in the past—I do not know whether because of immaturity or prejudice—I was unable to properly admit Iran's faults, wrongdoing, and failure. In those days, my psyche was so overflowing with enthusiasm and heroism that I regarded all that was pure, just, and heavenly as belonging to Iran; and all that did not belong to Iran—I am speaking about ancient Iran—I considered being heinous, base, and incorrect. In the years after the publication of that book and during the time when I did not neglect for one moment working and thinking about the same period of Iranian history, a crack developed—as it should—in that unwarranted idea of mine. I realized the falseness of the thinking that was known to the experts, and in this opportunity which I gained to revise the previous book, I found the need to compensate for that erroneous, biased conjecture. After all, the pledge that I make to the readers of this book is not to contaminate, wittingly or unwittingly, the past history with hypocrisy, lies, arrogance, and deception. My pledge is to search for the truth and separate it from all that is untrue, arrogant, and deceitful. In this case, it would not have been possible for me not to cross out as false all that I found to be incorrect and suspicious because of my own immaturity and stubbornness, and to misguide myself and the reader, who perhaps trusts my words more than necessary.

The search for truth, which I consider to be my motto, conferred on me another duty: For the sake of truth, I would have to clarify all that I had left ambiguous and incomplete in that book. A young reader who has read my previous book had some questions in mind for which I had provided no answer.

What was the reason for the downfall and defeat of the Sasanians? What came to pass that the desert travelers of little culture took charge of the destiny of such a great and glorious civilization? During these two centuries regarding which our historians have kept silent, what was the reason for the Persian language becoming invisible and lost without a trace? At the time when Iranian swordsmen under every pretext rebelled against the Arabs and fought the Arabs and Moslems, how did the Magi and Zoroastrian priests argue and debate against the Moslem creed? Such questions, which come to everyone's mind, would have been necessary for me to answer in that book; but in the first edition, I had not delved into such issues, so that perhaps I could answer those questions at an opportune time in another volume. And when I began revising that book to prepare it for a second printing, I thought that the opportunity had been provided.

But why have I called a book that is the story of two of the most eventful centuries of Iranian history "Two Centuries of Silence" and not “Two Centuries of Riots and Uproar?” This was asked of me by one of the critics after the publication of the first edition of the book. Had that dear critic read my book from beginning to end with sufficient care and patience, he would have found the answer to his question in the book. Is it not true that, after all, in the course of those two centuries, the Iranians' tongue had chosen to be silent and would not speak other than in the language of the sword? Nevertheless, with the new version of that book that is to be published, perhaps it would have been appropriate for me to have chosen a new title. But what need is there for a new title? This book was known by this name when it was a small newborn. What harm would it be to be known by the same name now that it has grown?

At any rate, what prevented me from having the new edition of this book published without any additions and subtractions was my duty to search for the truth. But have I performed my duty properly in this revision? I do not know. And yet I say that a writer of history deviates from the path of impartiality the moment he chooses the subject of his study; but this deviation from the truth can be forgiven by the reader. If I have not deviated beyond this, I will also be pleased. Nevertheless, quite possibly again I have been unable to avoid bias and immaturity. In any case, I make no claims in this regard: I do not claim to have come to any truth in this search. I do not claim that I have performed my duty as a historian. This that you see is what I have to offer, and nothing else.

March 1957
Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub


Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub (1923-1999)

Abdolhossein Zarinkoub (also spelled Zarrinkoob) was born in Borujerd. He was a prominent scholar of Iranian literature, history of literature, Persian culture, and history. He received his Ph.D. from Tehran University in 1955 under the supervision of Badiozzaman Forouzanfar, and held faculty positions at prestigious universities such as Oxford University, Sorbonne, and Princeton University, among many others. Due to his pioneering works on Iranian literature, literary criticism and comparative literature, he is considered as the father of modern Persian literature. Zarrinkoub’s solid research works made him a world class Iranologist and undisputed master of Persian literature and poetry. He was known for his extreme precision and solid works. He was the author of many books in Persian, French, and English, and published hundreds of articles. Some of his more famous works in English are: “The Arab Conquest of Iran and its Aftermath” in Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 4, London, 1975; “Persian Sufism in its Historical Background,” in Iranian Studies III, 1970; and “Nezami, a Lifelong Quest for a Utopia,” 1977, Rome. One of his famous books entitled “Naghde Adabi” (Literary Criticism) is a classic book on Persian literary criticism. Zarrinkoub is also known for his profound research on revered Iranian poet Mowlana Jalaleddin Mohammad, aka “Rumi.” Zarrinkoub’s “Serr-e Ney” (Secret of the Reed) and “Bahr dar Koozeh” (Sea in a Jug) are critical and comparative analysis of Mowlana’s “Masnavi.” “Pelleh Pelleh ta Molaghate Khoda” (Step-by-Step until Visiting God) is also a work he carried out on the same theme. Zarrinkoub’s research works on Hafez and Persian mysticism resulted in several books: “Az Koucheh-ye Rendan” and “Arzesh-e Miras-e Soufi-yeh.” His classic history book, “Two Centuries of Silence” is one the most reliable sources on the history of Iran/Persia after fall of the Sasaninan Empire. This book is undergoing translation into English by Mazda Publishers and will be available in a near future.

Moqaddameh bar Châp-e Dovvom
[Farvardin 1336/March 1957]

Mogaddameh bar Châp-e Avval
[Day 1330/ January 1951]

Chapter 1: Farmânravâyan-e Sahrâ
[The Rulers of the Desert]

Chapter 2: Toufân va Reeg
[Sand and Storm]

Chapter 3: Âtahsh-e Khâmoush
[Silent Fire]

Chapter 4: Zabân-e Gomshodeh
[The Lost Tongue]

Chapter 5: Derafsh-e Siyâh
[The Black Banner]

Chapter 6: Dar Ânsouy-e Jayhoun
[Beyond the Oxus]

Chapter 7: Shahr-e Hezâr-o-Yekshab
[The City of One Thousand and One Nights]

Chapter 8: Bâng-e Rastâkhiz
[The Call of Resurrection]

Chapter 9: Jang-e Aqâyed
[The War of Ideologies]

Chapter 10: Pâyân-e Yek Shab
[The End of One Night]


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