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Radio, television and Times journalist Hazhir Teimourian gave the keynote speech at the Ethical Society’s Annual Reunion of Kindred Societies a few years ago; he has also spoken to the Society on Sunday mornings on the situation in the Middle East. In 1998, he gave four autobiographical talks on BBC Radio 4, entitled A Kurd’s Eye View. These well-received talks are printed in this work as an Appendix.

Born in Kurdish western Iran in 1940, Hazhir came to London to study science and also became very interested in the great innovative geniuses of the past. He wrote a biography of the eleventh century Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet Omar Khayyaam, whose four-line verses are well-known from their English translation by Edward FitzGerald as the Rubaiyat. Khayyaam’s troubles with orthodox Islam are well–reflected in these quatrains, extolling the simple pleasures of wine and friendship. Omar’s words are carved on a wood panel above the fireplace in the Library, Conway Hall.

Besides Omar, some of the ‘sages’ Hazhir writes about in this book are Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Spinoza, Beethoven, Darwin, Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, Boris Pasternak and Hannah Arendt. Included are some of Hazhir’s own poems. This book will give enjoyment and satisfaction to all those, like Hazhir, sympathetic to the cause of freethought and rational living in this, the only world, while being thoroughly antipathetic to the life-denying forces of religious and political dogmatism.

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(Image: Wealden autumn, Sussex, England;  Hazhir Teimourian)

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