Manouchehr Sanei Dareh-bidi:
Revolution’s approach to the west caused our familiarization with German texts
27 May 2012 14:45
Sanei Dareh-bidi translator of German philosophical texts said the Islamic Revolution’s approach to the text encouraged us to study ideas of great western philosophers such as Husserl and Heidegger most of which are German.
IBNA: Sanei explained: “French language was the gateway of Iranians familiarization with the west. The nobility and the elite of Iran had known French since 200 years ago and especially during Qajar period, as France and Switzerland were the main realm of the francophone and therefore most of our translations in the last two centuries were made from French to Persian. In the new world we made familiar with the west through France and that is why modern Iranians tend to pronounce most foreign words with French accent.”
He added: “English language in the late century had the largest influence over the world and Iranian students in Pahlavi period chose America and England for education instead of Switzerland or France. The entrance of our students to Germany and our familiarization with German sources occurred quite lately.”
Sanei Dareh-bidi mentioned the cultural effect of Islamic Revolution of Iran on Iranians’ interest in German philosophy and said: “Before the revolution we translated German writings from English and French translations as we did not know the language.”
He added: “During Pahlavi period we witnessed a kind of cultural recession and inactivity, but the revolution made a cultural quake among professors of philosophy. The revolution had brought with itself a new evaluation system that altered our view of the west. After the revolution we wanted to know if the now-unwanted westerners had any word of value to offer. Following this approach we came across great western philosophers like Husserl, Heidegger and Kant most of which were German.”
“Therefore the thirst caused by the Cultural Revolution in Iran gradually steered us towards languages other than French and English and the students began to learn German. Many professors travelled to this country and the improving trend bettered our cultural situation. Perhaps the interest in knowing new western philosophers after the revolution could be interpreted in terms of an old proverb saying that one gets more curious to know something that is banned for him. Learning German was a reaction to the new revolution’s evaluation system and our curiosity to know what was going on there.”
He added: “Iranian had relations with the west from the time of Anoushirvan and Sassanian era and translated some of their texts to Pahlavi. However, the relation was broken after the Sassanian’s downfall and invasion of Arabs and this was kept on until the Safavid era. During this period we were ignorant about the west and spent our time on religious debates and defense against martial invasions and that is why during the Safavid and Qajar period we felt a thirst for knowing more about the west.”
Then criticizing the current trend of philosophical translation in Iran, Sanei said there are scattered translations of philosophical texts to Persian; this is a weakness but not the translator’s fault. Translating classical texts is difficult and time-consuming, while most of these translators do not even know their target language well.
He added: “Fee of our translators pick up basic philosophical texts. Many of the main works of Hegel and August Kent are not translated to Persian while the translators prefer to do simplified second-hand sources.”
He also stated that quantitative assessment of philosophical translations is impossible. “We should be just when assessing these translations, because the diversity of translations is proportionate with the diversity of public literacy. Translation in today world is incomparable with the previous centuries of Islam because in that time literacy has been something for the nobility, whereas it is in the public domain today. Cultural situations including translation should be assessed within the conditions of that particular era.”
He finally said: “I feel that there is an annually increasing interest in translating philosophical texts although the quality of these translations is not that good. I believe that translating these texts even in poor quality is better than not having them available at all.”