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Abul-Ghasem Payandeh

part 2


Payandeh had an early exposure to classical Arabic, and learnt French and English languages at the later stages of his life. He translated into Persian, from Arabic translation, The Pleasures of Life, and Quest for Happiness, both by Lord John Lubbock Avebury (1834-1913), as Dar aghush-e khoshbakhti, and Dar jost-o-ju-y khoshbakhti in 1932 and 1934, respectively. They went through several reprints within a few years (Green, pp. 188-89).

Yet another work by Payandeh was the publication of a compilation of short sermons and sayings, attributed to Prophet Mohammad, in 1947. The book’s title, Nahj-al fesaha: kalamat-e qesar-e Hazrat-e Rasul (The way of eloquence: aphorisms of the Prophet), draws upon the Nahj al-balagha, the anthology of dissertations, letters and testimonials, traditionally attributed to Ali b. Abi Taleb, Mohammad’s cousin and son-in-law, and the first Shi’i Imam, which was collected in the 10th century by Mohmmad b. Hossein Razi (930-977). Payandeh’s collected volume has been reprinted several times.

His translation of the Koran was the recipient of the annual royal award for the best work of translation in 1957. The translation, although rendered in a simple, fluent, and comprehensible language, and praised as a hitherto unrivalled translation of the Koran in Persian (Zarrinkub, pp. 202-03), suffered from a fairly large number of critical errors and omissions (Farzan, pp. 344-411). The revised editions of the book, however, enjoyed high critical acclaim (Mahdavi, p. 609). In his comprehensive introduction to the book, Payandeh provides the reader, in an adorned and eloquently crafted language (Behzadi, p. 139, Ettemad, p. 320), with a brief history of Islam, as well as an account of the Prophet’s life. He also offers a glimpse into the numerous difficulties he had to grapple with in translating the text. He also translated Zendegani-e Mohammad (Life of Mohammad, 1958), by Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888-1956), and Tarikh-e siasi-e Eslam (The political history of Islam, 3 vols., Tehran, 1959-60) by Hasan Ebrahim Hasan. Noted among Payandeh’s other translations are Tarikh-e ت؟Arab (History of the Arabs, 2 vols., Tabriz, 1965), by Phillip Khuri Hitti (1886 - 1978), the Syrian scholar and the founder of Arabic studies in the USA. His translation of Tarikh-e Tabari (The History of Tabari), the first complete rendition of MoلMohammad b. Jarir Tabari’s magnum opus in Persian--after Abu-Ali Mohammad Balami’s abridged translation in 352 AH (circa 962)--appeared in sixteen volumes in 1973. Although Payandeh was praised for his single-handed translation of this lengthy book in a short period of time (Hedayat, pp. 984-87), the book nevertheless, was not free from defects, and would have certainly benefited from a substantial editing. Payandeh was a prolific writer, with over 40 works of translation (For a comprehensive list of Payandeh’s works see John Green, Iranian Short Story Authors: A Bio-Bibliographic Survey, Costa Mesa, Calif. 1989).

To be continued ...

Sources: Wikipedia&Encyclopedias

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