Title: The Coronation Book of Oriental Literature
Author: The Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, Aga Khan (preface)
Publisher: Sampson Low, Marson & Co. 1st edition. No date, research reveals it to be 1937.
Condition: Hardcover with dust jacket. Some tears to dust jacket, especially the back. Some foxing to edges. Text clean, binding tight.
About the book:
A compilation of oriental tales by the father of Idries Shah, an Ismaili diplomat who worked for the British Foreign Office. The preface of this book is written by “His Highness the Aga Khan”, probably Aga Khan III, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah.
The book contains tales from Afghanistan, Arabia, China, India, Iran, Japan, Turkey and others, with each region having its own category in the book. Popular tales include The Mahabharata, excerpts from the Gulistan and the Love of Majnun, songs of Hafiz and others.
About the author (from Wikipedia):
Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah (born 1894 in Sardhana, India, died 4 November 1969 in Tangier, Morocco) was an Indian-Afghan author and diplomat descended from the Sadaat of Paghman. Educated in India, he came to Britain as a young man to continue his education in Edinburgh, where he married a young Scotswoman.
Travelling widely, Ikbal Ali Shah undertook assignments for the British Foreign Office and became a publicist for a number of Eastern statesmen, penning biographies of Kemal Ataturk, the Aga Khan and others. His other writing includes lighter works such as travel narratives and tales of adventure, as well as more serious works on Sufism, Islam and Asian politics. He hoped that Sufism might “form a bridge between the Western and the Eastern ways of thinking”; familiar with both cultures, much of his life and writing was devoted to furthering greater cross-cultural understanding.
Ikbal Ali Shah fathered three children, all of whom became notable writers themselves; his son Idries Shah became particularly well known and acclaimed as a writer and teacher of Sufism in the West. When Ikbal Ali Shah’s wife died in 1960, he moved from Britain to Morocco, spending the last decade of his life in Tangier.
Controversy related to his sons’ claims to have a special role in representing Sufism in the West also reflected back on Ikbal Ali Shah; a researcher seeking to discredit his son Idries unearthed Foreign Office records which appeared to cast doubt on Ikbal Ali Shah’s honesty, and towards the end of his life he was involved in a literary scandal surrounding a new translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a joint work by his eldest son Omar and the English poet Robert Graves. He died in a road accident in Morocco, aged 75.