IBNA specific interview with Behzad Ghaderi:
We have mutilated Henrik Ibsen in Iran
8 Jul 2012 15:05
Dr Behzad Ghaderi, Iranian researcher of theater believes that a systematic and comprehensive approach to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is missing in Iranian academies while most translations of his works are also weak. In the absence of systematic academic studies, anyone dares try him on stage or in translation; in either case the result is a mutilated Ibsen.
IBNA: Henrik Ibsen is called a great master of theater along with Sophocles and Shakespeare. Due to his achievements now almost all art faculties run Ibsen Studies courses and keep on studying on him. Yet Ibsen seems to have been neglected in Iran. Behzad Ghaderi is one of the few Iranian Ibsenologists who believes that since not all Ibsen's works are converted to Persian, one cannot talk about his with certainty.
What follows is IBNA correspondent's interview with Behzad Ghaderi:
Everyone knows the significance of Ibsen in the history of theater and the necessity to study his works and ideas for the artistic society of Iran. Yet there are relatively few researches made on Ibsen in Iran and you are one of the few researchers that have worked on him. How do you evaluate Iranian's knowledge of Henrik Ibsen?
This question reminds me of a poem titled 'Ibsen' by Rilke that I once translated to Persian and was published in issue number 52 of Gardoun magazine in 1995. In this poem, Rilke says, I sat in front of your works oh you stubborn, attempting to understand them. Like others, all those others that never leave you alone but plunder parts of you and are satisfied with their share of you. I did not get the meaning of fame them… as if Rilke is referring to us. For how could we have an appropriate image of Ibsen when a large part of his works remains untranslated in Iran? Even the current translations are defect renditions of English and sometimes French translations. The English translations of Ibsen, according to Bernard Shaw, are influenced by the British vulgarization process: Ibsen for special purposes! I mean the traditional translation, bot all available translations in English.
You have dealt with this in an article, right?
In "Ibsen in Translation in Iran" I have said that in the absence of organized academic studies, either in the form of translation or research, anyone after the Constitution has dared snitch Ibsen and plunder parts of him. From Amirhussein Aryanpour's "Rebellious Ibsen" that is a retelling of Marxist critics…without making their intentions clear for Iranian readers, to the margins of Heda Gabler's performance in Iran about two years ago.
How do these writers hold Ibsen?
One regards Ibsen as an agent of freemasonry and an object of western capitalism, and still others say his realistic and non-Aristotelian style has influenced contemporary Iranian drama – including Bahram Beizaei, Akbar Radi, Saedi and Ali Hatami; the emphasis on Non-Aristotelian is mine. Apart from the names of Iranians, it is unfair to call Ibsen's works 'non-Aristotelian'. These are Wikipedia-epidemic words that has now globalized. In my opinion, Chekhov thought that Ibsen did not have the guts to challenge or face Aristotle and that was why he wrote 'The Seagull' in response to Ibsen's 'Wild Duck' in order to show what courage means! However, many think that Chekhov has imitated the number one dramatist, whereas Ibsen was aware of the intertext. Strindberg criticized him of always nagging and being unaware of what was going on in their contemporary world. Yet Ibsen was juduist who knew well how to disarm Aristotle by his own methods – he had learnt this from Byron. Ibsen was a social philosopher who knew how to pack Aristotle and Plato with modern ideas. Chekhov, on the other hand, did not interest himself in such words; he was a physician and dealt with the body and minds of human beings – with their chemical beings.
But how could this proper knowledge of Ibsen be achieved?
I don't know what you mean by 'proper knowledge'. Had we all works of Ibsen translated from original Norwegian to Persian and had we written criticisms on his works, we could not still be sure that we have achieved a proper knowledge. We can never reach a single 'true' reading of a person – Ibsen or others. Ibsen is a neo-Hegelian that in my opinion makes a bridge between Hegel's mental dialectics and Marx's material and historical dialectics. I would like to invite that mister that calls Ibsen as the tribune of western capitalism, and also the other figure who has called Ibsen anti-Aristotelian to study the role of Ibsen in Bourgeois Tragedy. Moreover, they should better take a look at the websites of the National Library of Iran and International Ibsen Bibliography before making any further comments on Ibsen.
And what is your criticism about Persian translations of Ibsen?
The history of art and thought forms a part of general heritage and destiny of human beings. And in the phenomenology of the mind, human tragedy mean perpetual struggle towards knowledge…If we are moving towards [knowledge], it is expected that all of this heritage (cultural archive) b accessible to all the people and this is the duty of our academies and yet they are far from this ideal. At the moment we rather teach or just transport scientific passengers! All I can say about most Persian translations of Ibsen is that they are far behind a research-translation and that is why I say we have made our best to mutilate Ibsen either by translating or performing him.
What are the main defects of Persian researches or books on Ibsen?
In Persian, most of these researches lack method. They are written out of enthusiasm rather than a well-defined critical analysis. In other places Ibsen has been academized and they see him as a social reformed – yet less is said about his modes of speech.
What is your approach to Ibsen in the book "Ibsen, Utopia and Chaos"?
First of all I wanted to offer a different viewpoint than Mr. Aryanpour's made few decades before in him pamphlet "Rebellious Ibsen". I have discussed the pathology of Ibsen translations in Iran in the article "Ibsen in Translation in Iran". Appatenylu before the 1979 revolution one the absolutist aspect of Ibsen was highlighted in Iran. First of all I try to show that Ibsen is not an anarchist and is rather inclined to 'chaos' as an ever-expanding universe and shows it with humor and paradox. Secondly, I want to show how we can find the smirk of the scalp behind the masks and good manners of the characters. I should also add that this view is not that welcome by western academies.
Behzad Ghaderi holds a PhD degree in Dramatic Literature from an English University and has translated a number of plays by Ibsen and others to Persian. "Ibsen, Utopia and Chaos" (Porsesh Publications), "With Light in Angular Mirrors: Romanticist Dramatic Literature and the Postmodern Theater" (Qatreh), "Passage from Aristotelian Theater to Postmodern Drama" (K.U.P.) and "The Panorama of Dramatic Literature" are some of his works in Persian.