PERSONAL ESSAY | DECEMBER 2019
Iranian-Canadian novelist and translator Akram Pedramnia writes on translating James Joyce into Persian, evading the censors, and imperial co-option of resistance.
By Akram Pedramnia
The Winter in Suma Hills
In the years leading to the Islamic revolution of Iran, Setareh, a young peasant woman, tries to correspond with her husband, Farhad, a political prisoner. While working in a tobacco field to pay her rent in the northern of the country, she writes regularly to the prison where, she is told, her husband is staying. In these letters, she reveals a harsh life caused by poverty and the torment she endures from her community. Her life is interrupted, when she receives the replies.
‘Pleasure or pain, is it?’
Translating a work that employs inventive literary techniques is an already arduous task, however, negotiating with a system of imposed censorship makes the process of translating and publishing increasingly more intricate. The Iranian Ministry of Cultural and Islamic Guidance declared my uncensored translation of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (which I had had to publish and disseminate underground) an obscene publication, prohibited further sales, and ordered its confiscation. The censorship of words, themes, and sometimes complete works is a common hazard for Persian translators and frames my current work translating Ulysses. In this essay, I explore the challenges of translating modernist works, like Lolita, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night, as well as Ulysses, under a system of imposed censorship and discuss the methods I employ to evade it.
Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. The Uncensored Translation of Ulysses into Persian by Akram Pedramnia.
Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. Translated by Akram Pedramnia and is available in Iran’s Underground Markets
Tender is the Night
The fourth and final novel completed by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. A translation by Akram Pedramnia.
Maani, an immigrant archeologist, tries to understand love, pain, and struggles of humans lived thousands of years ago in the ancient city of the Sialk.
The Cry of the Desert
Goli, an Afghan-Iranian six years old girl learns that she will be prohibited from ever entering school and getting an education, for the sole reason that her father is an Afghan.
News, Articles and Interviews
Impact of Ulysses
This essay discusses the influences of James Joyce’s Ulysses on the future of novel writing.
Follow @pedramnia ON TWITTER
Ulysses Book Review from BBC Persian along with a few words from Akram Pedramnia
Happy #Bloomsday to Literature Ireland
Iranian-Canadian novelist and translator Akram Pedramnia translated the novel into Persian.
Reading Ulysses in Persian
Ulysses translator, Akram Pedramnia, project in @Bloomsday Macedonia FB Page.
The Reproduction of the Social Order in Literature
This essay is a discussion on maintaining the domination, oppression and inequality of the marginalized groups of societies
A Letter to Virginia Woolf
One of the strongest-willed translators active today. Confronting pernicious state-sponsored censorship, watching as dubious publishers eight time zones away put her work into print without permission or payment.
- Peter O’brien, The Globe and Mail
Her translations are distributed as pirated or over the Internet without her earning a cent – but that does not bother Akram Pedramnia. She is even pleased. Thanks to her, Iranian readers can read Lolita or Tender Is the Night
- Angela Schader, Neue Zürcher Zeitung