One cannot erase the memory of Prince Alireza Pahlavi from one’s mind even if one tried. I knew him when he was a lively, well-dressed, and socially active young man who had registered at Columbia University and was a student in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures.
Academically, he was interested particularly in two fields: the history of pre-Islamic Iran and the culture and languages of Iran prior to Islam. For the latter, he took courses with Professor James Russell, an expert in Middle Iranian and Armenian literatures, now the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard. He later pursued this field at Harvard, which was better equipped to give instruction on these subjects. For Persian history, he took a course that I was giving. He showed a healthy and lively curiosity in historical problems.
It is a great pity that an untimely passing cut his plans short. It is hard to believe that such an excellent and most promising young man is no longer with us. His indelible memory and that of his joie de vivre haunts me and keeps posing unanswerable questions about the enigma of fate.
It is most appropriate and a cause for great appreciation by all the lovers of Iran and its culture that Her Imperial Majesty Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi has founded a Fellowship in Ancient Iranian Studies in the name of Prince Alireza Pahlavi at Harvard University.
The significance of her Majesty’s act becomes clearer when we remember how important it is to fortify the foundations of Iranian Studies. Iran has had a long and rich history and has contributed remarkably to the progress of world culture. It was Iran that founded the first empire in the world with a humane policy bringing many countries and many races under one rule. Its poetry is among the best in the world, its art has no rival in the entire Middle East, and its cultural influence in neighboring countries, particularly in the Subcontinent and Anatolia, has been profound. All these and more need to be made known and written about. Any step taken to promote the knowledge of Iranian history and culture is a service to the promotion of humanities. The establishment of a Fellowship in Prince Alireza Pahlavi’s memory helps to advance the study of ancient Iran.