Translating in Jails: The Case of Contemporary Iranian Imprisoned Translators

Document Type: Research Article

Author

Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz

Abstract

Just like members of any other profession, not all translators are the same in terms of their ideas, ideals, and code of conduct. Among the modern Iranian translators, a limited, yet influential and professionally well-known, group of them who were among the political activists during Reza Shah Pahlavi (1926-1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1941-1979) reigns had to spend so many years in prison as prisoners of conscience. These prisoners, who were mostly members of the secular political organizations of that era, had to serve long prison terms under harsh physical and psychological conditions. Surprisingly, a number of these prisoners turned out to be among the leading Iranian translators of European languages in the years and decades which ensued in rendering works of both fiction and nonfiction. To get familiar with this category of influential translators, the titles they translated into Persian, the languages they translated from, and the way they had learned the languages they translated from, this qualitative research was done drawing upon data gathered from sources such as Persian literary journals, interviews, and memoires. Meanwhile, to address the issues involved, the theoretical framework employed here drew upon concepts such as agency and habitus. Findings revealed that to this particular group of translators, getting involved in translating in jail meant an attempt for survival and/or self-expression.

Keywords


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