It’s called Sa’di Says and I will posting to it excerpts from my translations of Sa’di, the 13th century Persian poet, which were originally published by Global Scholarly Publications in two separate volumes, Selections from Saadi’s Gulistan andSelections from Saadi’s Bustan. Both books have been out of print for quite a few years now, and GSP has no plans to do a second printing of either, which I think is a shame. Sa’di’s work is not just beautiful in its own right; it also has a lot to say to us today. (One day I should write about my experience working with GSP; it is a cautionary tale worth telling.)
My books were published in 2004 and 2006 respectively, and I have learned a lot since then about the act of translation itself, the particular politics that attach to the translation of classical Iranian poetry (including the politics of choosing to call it Iranian versus Persian poetry, or vice versa), about classical Iranian literature in general, about the Sufi tradition within which Sa’di wrote, and about Sa’di himself. All of this has convinced me that it’s time to look at my translations again, with an eye towards publishing a “selected” volume, one that includes poems from bothBustan and Golestan—right there, in fact, in my use of Golestan instead ofGulistan, and in the way I have started spelling Sa’di’s name, is one of the things I have learned: don’t trust systems of transliteration that are more than 100 years old. That may seem like a minor point, but since questions of pronunciation inevitably become questions of history and politics—and, in the case of Iran, orientalism and imperialism—it is a point worth paying attention to.
I may decide to write more about such issues, but, for now, I just want to focus on sharing some of the translations themselves. Sa’di Says is here. I hope you will click on over to check it out, that you will follow me if you are on Tumblr, share the work you think is worth sharing, and let me know what you think as well. Here’s the first part of the most recent post, just to give you a taste:
A Wealthy Man Will Find it Hard to Die
I overheard a rich man’s son and a poor man’s son arguing as they stood near the grave of the wealthier boy’s father. “My father’s coffin,” the rich boy was saying, “is made of the finest stone and his epitaph has been carved in the most elegant script. He has a marble gravestone decorated with a mosaic of turquoise-like stones. Your father’s grave, on the other hand, is nothing more than two bricks pushed together with two handfuls of mud thrown over them.”
To read the rest, click here.
(It’s been a long time, I know, since I have posted anything here on Alas, either in blog posts or comments, but I am hoping that some changes I have made in my life, personally and professionally—I am no longer my union’s communications coordinator, for example—will give me more time to devote to my own writing, including blogging, which I have been missing a lot.)