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25.11.09

25 Nov 2009 - 10:53

Here are the latest cultural headlines in the media.

Poet Shahram Sheidaii dies at 42

Tehan Times: Poet and translator Shahram Sheidaii died of cancer in Tehran on Monday. He was 42.

He composed poems in Azeri and published six books. He also translated poetry collections by the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska and Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanik.

His funeral ceremony will be held at Karaj’s Bibi-Sakineh cemetery on Wednesday morning.

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U. of Tehran commemorates Ionesco on 100th birthday

Tehran Times: The University of Tehran will be holding a seminar on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the world renowned dramatist Eugène Ionesco.

The event will be held at the Shahid Avini and Samandarian Halls of the university from November 30 to December 2.

Professor Ahmad Kamyabi Mask proposed the holding of the seminar last year, the secretary of the meeting Mohammadreza Ali-Akbari mentioned during a press conference on Monday.

The intention was to hold the meeting as an international event but that was precluded due to funding issues, he mentioned.

“Unfortunately, the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology did not provide any financial support for the event,” he said.

He went on to say that the Theater Center of the university, Iran’s Center for Dramatic Arts and the university’s Fine Art Faculty all supported the event.

“The seminar aims to clear Ionseco’s theater of the label attributed to it by the British literary critic Martin Esslin who called it the theater of Absurd,” Kamyabi Mask mentioned during the conference.

Kamyabi Mask, who has conducted interviews with Ionesco and wrote books on his plays, lauded him as a noble dramatist.

On the opening day, theatrical scholar Farhad Nazerzadeh, stage director Farhad Ayeesh and filmmaker Benyamin Esbati are lecturing, and Ahmad Kamyabi Mask is reading the script of the play “Man With Bags”.

Veteran stage director Qotbeddin Sadeqi, stage designer Khosrow Khorshidi and Abbas-Ali Salehi are presenting papers on the second day, and reading the plays “The Chairs” and “The Leader”.

The seminar will host lectures by Kamyabi Mask on avant-garde theater, Amir Reza Kuhestani on the new mise en scenes for Ionseco’s “Rhinocéros” and the reading of the play “Exit the King”.

Eugène Ionesco (1909–1994), a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, was one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays tangibly depict in the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

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War book “Da” wins Iran’s most lucrative literary award 

Tehran Times: The War narrative “Da” won the top prize from the Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Awards, which is Iran’s most prestigious and lucrative literary award.

The award presentation ceremony took place at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on Monday with the narrator of the book, Zahra Hosseini, receiving the prize although it was written by Seyyedeh Azam Hosseini.

The top winner receives 110 Bahar Azadi gold coins worth over $270,000.

“Da” contains recollections by Seyyedeh Zahra Hosseini of the time when the Iraqi army captured Khorramshahr in the early days of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. It is a true-to-life story of a teenager who experienced the early days of the war in Khorramshahr.

The jury announced winners of the second place award in the literary and special sections, but had no winner for the literature section.

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, Iran National Library and Archives (INLA) director Ali-Akbar Ash’ari and several cultural figures attended the award ceremony.

“Language of Mysticism” by Alireza Fuladi, and “Theater of Myths” by Naghmeh Samini shared the literary critic award.

“Atlas of Shiites” by Rasul Jafarian received the special section award.

Several publications were honored at the ceremony, among which were Faragoft, Ney and Sureh-Mehr as the publisher of the book “Da”.

The long and short stories sections had no winners.

Mohammadreza Sarshar, Asghar Qaedan, Mahmud Bashiri, Hossein-Ali Qobadi, Abbas-Ali Vafaii, Maryam Hosseini, Firuz Zonuzi Jalali and Ahmad Shakeri were jury members of the award.

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Spanish Translator Laments Improper Translations of Islamic Texts

Iran News: Jafar Gonzales, translator of the Quran into Spanish said that Spanish Islamic texts do not find ways into the libraries of Spain because of their improper translation.

Participating in the second day of an international seminar of Iranian-Spanish cultural dialogue with the central theme “Religion in Spain” on Wednesday, Gonzales discussed Spanish Islamic texts and said, “Almost 500 million people speak Spanish, the second most frequently spoken language in the world after English.

“There have not been many translations of Islamic texts into Spanish over the past 30 years, but lately there has been more research in this direction,” he remarked.

Gonzales who has been living in Qom for 10 years learning Persian and Arabic languages, added, “There has been a kind of fear toward Islam in the country over the past 500 years avoiding the increase in the number of Islamic texts that have been translated.

“In the first part of the 20th century, a Christian cleric began his research on Islam, helping to increase the number of Islamic texts translation,” he explained.

He later mentioned that almost 500 books from the Sunni sources and 50 by the Shiites have so far been translated into Spanish, adding, “Unfortunately some of the texts do not possess world-class quality.”

Gonzales has completed four translations of the Holy Quran into Spanish over the past few years.

The University of Tehran hosted the first day of the seminar and the program was held at the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO) on the second day. Several Iranian and Spanish scholars gave lectures at the 2-day seminar.

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Son Objects to Moving Camus’s Remains

Iran News: President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to transfer the remains of the writer Albert Camus to one of the most hallowed burial places in France, but the plan has run into opposition from the Nobel laureate’s son, who does not think his father would have wanted the honor.

Camus’s son, Jean, says interring his father’s remains at the Panthéon, the Paris monument to some of the great men and women of France, would be contrary to his father’s wishes and does not want to have his legacy put to work in the service of the state, Le Monde quoted an unidentified intimate of Mr. Camus’s as saying.

Jean Camus’s sister, Catherine Camus, who manages her father’s estate, is prepared to give her approval and has spoken with Mr. Sarkozy on the subject, Le Monde said.

Mr. Sarkozy has said little publicly on the subject, but he noted last week that he had “been in touch with the family members,” adding: “I need their agreement.”

“No decision has been made on the Panthéonization,” a spokeswoman for the Elysée Palace said, declining to comment further.

The proposal has become a political issue in France, with the left accusing Mr. Sarkozy of trying to lift his fortunes by association with one of the secular saints of modern France. The president is limping along with a 60 percent disapproval rating, according to a Nov. 9 Ipsos poll for the newsmagazine Le Point.

“What do we have to do to transfer Camus to the Panthéon?” asked one reader on the Web site of Le Figaro, a daily that is generally supportive of Mr. Sarkozy. “The son doesn’t agree: It’s Sarkozy who proposed it, so it’s suspect! Ah, the day that the left proposes it, then it will be different. Let’s leave Albert where he is while we wait.”

Jean Daniel, editor of the newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur, told Le Monde: “The crushing character of the consecration appears contrary to the ideas for which Camus is famous.”

“For me, Camus is the author of ‘The Rebel,’ who spoke of the heroism of moderation,” Mr. Daniel said. “I don’t see the Panthéon glorifying that kind of heroism. Camus was totally libertarian. Never did the rejection of totalitarianism lead him to join either the center or the right.”

Camus, born to humble circumstances in Algeria, is perhaps best known to the anglophone world for his absurdist short novel, “The Stranger,” a staple of undergraduate literature courses. He joined the Communist Party, but later fell out with it. During World War II he edited Combat, a clandestine newspaper, and joined a circle of Paris luminaries that included Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

The Panthéon is one of Paris’s grandest monuments, its 18th-century dome dominating the skyline of the Left Bank. Originally consecrated as the Church of Sainte-Geneviève, the anticlerical leaders of the Revolution made it into a temple to the great men of the nation.

Today, having reverted several times to church status and back, its necropolis houses the remains of Voltaire and Louis Pasteur, as well as the writers Victor Hugo, André Malraux, Alexandre Dumas and Émile Zola. The chemist and physicist Marie Curie, and Sophie Berthelot, the wife of the chemist Marcellin Berthelot, are the only women buried there.

“Camus wasn’t the most innovative of 20th-century French writers,” said David Bellos, a translator and professor of French literature at Princeton University. Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Georges Perec “are incomparably more important figures for the history of the novel as an art form.”

“Nor does Camus belong in the company of Hugo, Dumas and Zola as a story teller and a national figure of outsized proportions,” Mr. Bellos said. Rather, “he is known for his moral firmness, his common sense and his unwillingness to simplify, and those are values we should continue to honor.”

“Camus also did it very well, and his deceptively simple style continues to challenge and draw in readers all over the world.”

Albert Camus’s remains are currently buried in the cemetery of Lourmarin, in the Luberon area of Provence. He died in a car crash in the town of Villeblin, in Burgundy, on Jan. 4, 1960, at the age of 46.

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New York to Stage Kouhestani Plays

Iran Daily: Martin E. Segal Theater Center is scheduled to stage three plays by young Iranian director Amir Kouhestani in New York City.

New Voices from Iran will present ‘Quartet: A Journey to North’, ‘Dance on Glasses’ and ‘Amid the Clouds’ on Nov. 23, Presstv reported.

London-based curator, writer and designer Vali Mahlouji will also attend the program to direct readings of excerpts from ‘Quartet: A Journey North’ and ‘Dance on Glasses’, and show slides and video clips from ‘Amid the Clouds’.

Kouhestani’s ‘Quartet: A Journey North’ has been staged at London’s Barbican Center as well as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hanover and Moscow.
The play is a documentary-style performance, which tries to determine what makes an ordinary person a killer. It premiered in September and will have a European tour in the spring of 2010.
Playwright and short story writer, Amir-Reza Kouhestani began his theatrical career in 1996 as a performer and wrote his first play ‘And the Day Never Came’ in 1999.

He was co-director of the International Workshop in the Theater der Welt Festival and participated in the 2003 international debate, ‘The Rights and Roles of Young People as Artsmakers’, at the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).

Kouhestani’s second play ‘The Murmuring Tales’ was nominated for the best play directing, playwriting, and male and female cast awards at Iran’s 18th International Fajr Theater Festival.

His third production ‘Dance on Glasses’ has been internationally presented by the Theater der Welt in Bonn (Germany, 2002), the Chekhov International Theatre Olympiad (Moscow, May 2003), and in Brussels, Dublin, Paris, Montreal, Rio, Lisbon, Modena as well as over 20 art venues and festivals around the world.

‘Amid the Clouds’ was Kouhestani’s first co-production with the Kunsten Festival des Arts and Weiner Festwochen, which was staged in more than 20 cities including London, Zurich, Amsterdam, Goteborg and Warsaw.

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Tehran to exhibit unseen Sepehri paintings

Presstv: The Tehran Contemporary Arts Museum is set to exhibit unseen paintings by modern Iranian poet and painter Sohrab Sepehri.

A Window on Colors will exhibit more than 100 paintings by the late artist, some of which will be on public display for the first time.

"Some of the works belong to the Tehran Contemporary Arts Museum and others are on loan from the Kerman museum and private collectors," said exhibition organizer Yaqoub Emdadian.

"A Window on Colors aims to introduce Sepehri to art students as an influential, contemporary Iranian artist," he added.

Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980) is one of the greatest figures of modern Persian poetry and painting. His works are mostly inspired by nature.

Sepehri's poems have been translated into different languages including French, English, Spanish, Italian, Swedish and Russian.

A Window on Colors will run from Nov. 30, 2009 to Jan. 21st, 2010, also offering music, poetry, painting and visual arts conferences along with workshops and film screening sessions.

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Darwin first edition fetches over 100,000 pounds

Presstv: A first edition of a seminal book by Charles Darwin has been sold at Christie's auction house for more than 100,000 pounds, much higher than expected.

The rare first print run of the book On the Origin of Species was described by Christie's as “one of the most important and influential scientific books ever written.”

At an auction timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication, the book was sold for 103,250 pounds ($170,000, or 115,000 euros) -- well above its estimate of 60,000 pounds.

The rediscovered book, first printed in 1859, was purchased by a Londoner for just a few shillings in a shop 40 years ago. Since then, the book had languished for years on a bookshelf in the guest lavatory at a home in the Oxford area in southern Britain.

“We are thrilled to have seen so much interest for the book leading up to the auction where clients competed in the room and by telephone, with an anonymous telephone bidder winning the battle and acquiring it for 103,250 pounds,” said Margaret Ford, the director and head of books and manuscripts at Christie's.