August 4, 2021
TEHRAN – A book by Nile Green, a professor of South Asian and Islamic history at UCLA, that illustrates how a group of Iranian students sought love and learning in Jane Austen’s London has been published in Persian.
Cheshmeh is the publisher of “The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen’s London” translated into Persian by Amir-Mehdi Haqiqat.
In July 1815, six Iranian students arrived in London under the escort of their chaperone, Captain Joseph D’Arcy. Their mission was to master the modern sciences behind the rapid rise of Europe.
Over the next four years, they lived both the low life and high life of Regency London, from being down and out after their abandonment by D’Arcy to charming their way into society and landing on the gossip pages.
Drawing on the Persian diary of the student Mirza Salih and the letters of his companions, Green vividly describes how these adaptable Muslim migrants learned to enjoy the opera and take the waters at Bath. But there was more than frivolity to their student years in London.
Burdened with acquiring the technology to defend Iran against Russia, they talked their way into the observatories, hospitals and steam-powered factories that placed England at the forefront of the scientific revolution. All the while, Salih dreamed of becoming the first Muslim to study at Oxford.
“The Love of Strangers” chronicles the frustration and fellowship of six young men abroad to open a unique window onto the transformative encounter between an Evangelical England and an Islamic Iran at the dawn of the modern age.
This is the rarest of books about West Asia and the West: a story of friendships.
Photo: A copy of the Persian translation of Nile Green’s book “The Love of Strangers”.