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The Royal Asiatic Society is delighted that Brill are to publish both a complete print edition and a searchable online version of C.A. Storey’s Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey that also includes all of Professor Storey’s hitherto unpublished material. The Bio-bibliography was conceived as a work of reference similar to Carl Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (published between 1898 and 1902, with many subsequent editions and revisions, and also published online by Brill in 2009).

Charles Ambrose Storey (1888–1967) studied Classics and Oriental Languages at Cambridge. After graduation he taught at Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s College at Aligarh, in India. In 1919 he became Assistant Librarian and then, from 1927, the Librarian at the India Office. From 1933 he was Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic at Cambridge. After retirement in 1947 he continued his scholarly work until he died. In his will, he left all his academic materials, together with a generous legacy, to the Royal Asiatic Society in the hope that work on the Bibliography would be continued.

Storey had set out as an Arabist, with a distinguished list of publications dating from 1917. He became recognised as one of the great oriental scholars of his time. While at the India Office, Storey continued to research and publish in Arabic, but his increasing pre-occupation became the Persian bibliography, the first part of which was published in 1930. His approach was different to that of Brockelmann who had conceived his work as a general history of Arabic literature: Storey, by contrast, sought to provide a grand bibliographical guide that would list extant manuscripts, with details of their copies, locations, notations, and defects, together with printed books, biographical information about their authors, and data on editions and translations.

Although Storey was limited by the information available to him (for example, he did not have access to collections in Russia, Central Asia and Iran later included in Professor Yuri Bregel’s greatly enlarged Russian translation of Storey’s bibliography, published from 1974 onwards) the great strength of his work was, as Bregel has written, “the thoroughness with which it was prepared and printed, making it both an indispensable and generally reliable source of information”; and an early review, in 1935, by Vladimir Minorsky noted that ‘the work has been so carefully done and such a mass of catalogues has been utilized that only longer use of the book may bring to evidence some occasional lacunae’.

Storey’s approach was to classify Persian literature neither chronologically nor by name of author but according to genre and subject, with appropriate cross-referencing. During his lifetime he published, with Luzac, several fascicles covering Qurʾanic literature, history, biography, mathematics, astronomy etc, designed to fit into an overall scheme of three volumes, together with cumulative indexes and corrections as publication proceeded. Between 1977 and 1990, the Society, drawing on the Storey Fund, continued publication (now with Brill) of Storey’s accumulated manuscripts, largely without updating or correction. This still left in his papers material for further parts in the first three volumes and for the whole of a projected volume 4.

In the 1990s, François de Blois was commissioned to work on the Storey project, taking on the material relating to poetry. Publication of this part of the bibliography was begun in 1992 covering the pre-Mongol period, with subsequent parts brought together in a revised and corrected edition in 2004 as a fifth volume of the Storey design. De Blois’s book, as appropriate for the state of knowledge quarter of a century after Storey’s death, is, again in Bregel’s words, “an essentially new work” drawing extensively on material not available to Storey and adopting new approaches to bibliographical research. It still left to be done a listing devoted to Persian poetry from the time of Saʿdī and Rūmī onwards.

And there the matter has rested until this online initiative by Brill. Included here is all the hitherto published material relating to the Bio-bibliography, together with all the remaining unpublished material from the Storey archive. Digital technology affords an opportunity to breathe new life into this enterprising work and besides the greater access to scholars across the world that online publication gives it offers the opportunity of future expansion and correction as further research is done. The original concept remains a powerful one: the provision of an excellent research tool to stimulate and facilitate study of a great body of world literature.

The Society is grateful to Dr Maurits van den Boogert at Brill who has worked with the Society to make this new edition possible, to Dr Joep Lameer, who has supervised the conversion process from Storey’s handwritten pages to printed books on Brill’s behalf, and to the production editor, Pieter te Velde, who also compiled the List of Authorities and Abbreviations.

An excellent account of Storey’s scholarship and the bibliographical history of his Bio-bibliography written by the late Professor Bregel in 2005, is published in the Encyclopaedia Iranica.

As the Royal Asiatic Society approaches its 200th Anniversary in 2023, it is particularly gratifying that the intention of its founders—to promote ‘the investigation and encouragement of the science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia’—is realised in so innovative a way; and that Professor Storey’s lifetime of scholarship has been enabled by his generous benefaction to live on from generation to generation.

The Royal Asiatic Society

December 2020

Storey Online

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