In this fully illustrated lecture Prof. Williams will talk about the priceless collection of Persian manuscripts held in the John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester, and in particular the manuscripts of Mowlana Rumi’s Masnavi-ye Ma’navi and Divān-e Shams-e Tabrizi. Prof. Williams will also highlight the problems of looking after and researching very old manuscripts, and compare the conditions at the John Rylands Library with other libraries, including two he has visited in the last month, namely the Mevlana Muzesi and Library of Manuscripts in Konya, Turkey. In this talk he will also stress how if something is not done about these manuscripts urgently, many of them will remain in obscurity and, even worse, actually perish over the course of time.
Prof. Alan Williams is Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester. He is author of nine books and many articles on ancient, medieval and modern Iran and the history of religions. His specialist research interests in Zoroastrian religion in Pahlavi and Persian of the pre-Islamic and Islamic period (4th-16th centuries), and in Persian mystical texts of the classical period (12th-15th centuries). His books include a 2-volume edition, translation and commentary of the 9th century Pahlavi Rivāyat, a study of the 16th century Indo-Persian Qeṣṣe-ye Sanjān, and an edition and translation of selected poems of his former teacher, Mohammad Reza Shafiʿi Kadkani (with Pari Amurz Motammedi). Having published a paperback translation of the first volume of Rumi’s Masnavi, his current research project is to complete a new study and translation of all six volumes of the text, working from the oldest manuscripts, with the Persian text of Mohammad Esteʿlami. Recipient of prestigious research awards from the British Academy, Leverhulme Foundation, and Arts and Humanities Research Council, he is Chair of Research at the British Institute of Persian Studies, Chair of the EJ Gibb Memorial Trust and sits on the Academic Committee of the IHF.
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