ه‍.ش. ۱۳۹۲ شهریور ۸, جمعه

The Way Out

Boring! Such boring literature! Such mediocre authors! And worst of all, those lazy critics and readers! Bored to death! This is the main impression I have after years of literary study, or precisely, reading the modern narrative literature of Iran.

I only reflect on my own experience. This is more about myself than the others. I only want to experience something newer and less boring, even if it'll be only a fly into darkness. Though, if I one day write some critical essay about Persian stories its title will be something like this: The Poetics of Boredom, or, How to kill the reader and get away with it!
Despite the above claims, I would not consider all fictional works of Iranian authors boring or shallow. In my opinion, some of our authors are, in some respects, comparable to some of the world's best novelists or authors. These authors are great but not as excellent as they should be.
Since I only read modern short stories and novels which are mainly been written before the 21th century, especially those belong to the first half of the past century, the cause of it will be explained in the future passages, I will mostly mention some prominent authors of the 20th century whether Iranians or foreigners. For example, I can compare some works of the noble English writer Ahmed Salman Rushdie with some works of the great Persian novelist and short story writer Houshang Golshiri [هوشنگ گلشیری[ (1938-2000) who even a decade before Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, Shame, and Midnight's Children, had written many good fictions and novellas with brilliant prose and attractive imagination, having the same strategies and parallel themes as the Rushdie's works: stories about myths with religious themes (some of them titled Ma‘sūm) with regard to reactionary impacts of such elements on modern societies. The Golshiri's works have been and currently are of the most successful and influential pieces of Iran's modern literature, though, Golshiri was not Rushdie and his disciples or pupils were not like him or like any other eminent author of the West. Persian fictions frequently are very domestic, with very little innovations in term of form or subject matter.
The Problem of Golshiri, as is the case with other prominent Persian story tellers, is that they [us] study and learn the art of storytelling in a most confused and mixed fashion. Because our academic and university officials do not recognize our modern authors and their works due to political and personal interests, the best contemporary writers are almost completely omitted from curriculums and academic spheres, among them Sadegh Hedayat, Sadegh Chubak, Bahram Sadeqi, Golshiri, Reza Baraheni, Hormoz Shahdadi, Shahriar Mandanipour, Abbas Maroufi, Reza Ghassemi, Mahmood Massooudi, to mention only few names. Unfortunately, in most cases the important works of these authors are banned from public libraries and even are denied publication, consequently, some of these authors who still are alive immigrated to the West and lost any proper contact with their readers.
The next, or second, important factor of deficiency of our stories, I believe, is that even our best authors do not know any foreign languages and therefore only read translations. How can it be possible to understand or to learn modern complex and confusing approaches to the language and narrative by reading loose and inefficient translations? Because of the inherent deficiency of any translation, I think, no serious writer in my country can learn writing only by reading translations.
The third and most ominous factor is the official censorship, stark repression of authors and lack of the freedom of speech in the history of contemporary Iran especially in the last recent decades following the 1979 revolution, which led the country to a situation similar to that of the Soviet era. Cultural policy, repression and intimidation of the intellectuals with no respect for the human rights and necessities of artistic innovation are the main upshot of modern theocracies. As was mentioned before, I have mainly read stories form the first half of the 20th century in Persian. The basic reason for this restraint have been the increasing significance of language, particularly in the postwar literature and the importance of sexuality in following years which have been ignored and distorted in the Persian translations. Since I had had to read the world literary masterpieces mutilated, I preferred not to read those prominent works till now that I can read them in English.
With this brief introduction, it now is easier for me to explain what made me begin writing in English. I want to write freely and without any restrictions. Unfortunately, my English is poor. I have no experience writing in English and this is my first note. So, I expect you to tolerate me and to correct me till I may stand on my own feet (maybe on my own head!). As Golshiri once said, “writing novels needs Job's patience.” (i.e. to write a novel one must be very patient.) I am patient, so be thou! Maybe I even learn to fly, who knows? This is the way out! At least for me.

In the end, I’d like to thank Hadi, my close friend and the first reader and the editor of this humble text without whom I would have never dared to start writing in English so soon. Thank you

August 30, 2013

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