My previous post asked about the role of violence in children’s literature, specifically whether we should talk about war and school shootings. I was inspired by a remarkable book called Good Night, Commander, which was originally published in Farsi (or Persian, if you prefer), and translated into English. (Buy the book!)
Well, a remarkable thing happened: that very post has now been translated into Farsi by the wonderful Kave Behbahani, who translated my book On MacIntyre, and who has been way more generous to me than I deserve. He wanted both to make sure that Good Night, Commander’s author Ahmad Akbarpour could read it, and he wants to pass my words on to a literary magazine in Iran. As I say, way too generous.
I wanted to post the translation here for at least two reasons.
First, it’s cool. Farsi is a beautiful looking language and I always like engaging with it as art, even though I have no idea what the words say or sound like. With such beautiful script, it is no surprise that Iranian Qur’ans are so exquisite despite the Islamic prohibition of figurative art.
Second, I wanted to recognize Kave’s hard work and make sure that all my readers know of his efforts. Thank you Kave. You honor me.
In the Preface to the Persian Edition of On MacIntyre, I wrote:
"Moving a book from one language to another takes more than just word substitution or idiomatic replacement; it requires an understanding of the cultural and intellectual context, the conflicts that drive authors and perspectives, and the motivations for why the author wrote as he or she did. It is also an act of détente. Persian/English translations make peace through ideas, joining Iran and the United States together."
I still believe this. Once again Kave’s work, along with Ahmad Akbarpour’s and the book’s illustrator Maarteza Zahedi’s, has brought us one tiny step closer towards mutual understanding. World peace is only possible from a cosmopolitan point of view.
Why? Radio has a significant audience in Iran. I don’t know why. PQED has also made the rounds there. Again, I can’t give a clear reason. But I am more appreciative of their loyalties than I can communicate. I am grateful and privileged to have such a dedicated community in a country that I fear I will never have the good fortune to visit. I hope this blog will provide a vehicle for all of us to talk with each other, wherever we live in the world.
Oh, and one more thing. I recently liked a Facebook group called "Must See Iran" that sends out astonishing pictures of the country. You should join it. You'll be surprised and impressed.
So, without further ado: the first Farsi post of PQED: