Persian Voices: No Medical Books at That Time in Persian

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Persian Voices: No Medical Books at That Time in Persian

Until 1309 (1930) he practiced mostly old medicine [Islamic medicine]. When it was time to take the exam, he went to Tabriz. There he studied with Dr. Tofiq who had studied medicine in Switzerland. Because there were no medical books at that time in Persian, he used Istanbul-Turkish translations of European medial texts. He studied both theory and practice [modern medicine]. He learned from him how to use a stethoscope, to take blood pressure, and do examination of women. He then took the licensing exam and passed.

—Son of One Hakim

 

Ervand, Abrahamian. “The Iron Fist of Reza Shah.” A History of Modern Iran. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 90. Print.

Persian Voices: Fever of High Prices and Hoarding

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Persian Voices: Fever of High Prices and Hoarding

The problems of political and social life were reaching city squares and factories. In the civil service and the university, the young were becoming increasingly agitated. Adventures of various brands were busily enlisting the simple-minded to their own cause. The bazaar was gripped by the fever of high prices and hoarding. Everything was beyond reach—sugar, cloth, medicine, tires, rice, etc.—and everything was being greedily bought and sold. Every commodity … was being exchanged ten or twenty times a day, profit was added to profit, misery to misery. Typhus and inedible bread… were two prevailing calamities, and rationing coupons the foundation stone of windfall riches.

—A Noted Writer

 

Azimi, Fakhreeddin. (2008). QUEST FOR DEMOCRACY IN IRAN C: a century of struggle against authoritarian rule. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, p.122.

Persian Voices: Cursed Path Damns

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Persian Voices: End of The Game

The soldiers

Passed by, shattered,

Weary

On scrawny horses,

Faded rags of ousted pride

Upon their spears.

 

What do you gain

Boasting

To the world

When

Every particle of dust on your cursed path damns you?

—Shamloo, End of The Game

 

Shāmlū, Ahmad., Papan-Matin, Firoozeh. translated by, Land, Arthur. (2005). The love poems of Ahmad Shamlu. Bethesda, Mar.: IBEX Publishers, p.183.

Persian Voices: She Labors Like A Man

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Persian Voices: She Labors Like A Man

All she sees is but aperity

What she reads, breathes adversity;

Her back is bending, with all the load,

Her eyesight is dim in this abode;

Thus she labors like a man;

Thus she toils, the woman.

—Nima Yushij, The Soldier’s Family

 

Translated to English by M. Alexandrian tebyan. (2018). Nima Yushij. [online] Available at: http://www.citethisforme.com/cite/edit/328547797 [Accessed 1 Mar. 2018].

 

Editor’s Note: Nima Yushij is one of the leading modern writers in Iran’s literary movement called, “New Poetry” which also included Ahamad Shamlu and Sadegh Hedayat.  Nima Yushij’s themes include war, tyranny, poverty, and love.

Editor’s Note: Reza Shah built up Iran’s modern military between WWI and WWII. In addition to mandatory military service, often prisoners were sent to join the ranks as well. However, the state struggled to pay for this substantial force and it was not unheard of for the men in uniform to sell their rifles for bread.

Persian Voices: City of Men

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Persian Voices: City of Men

But one strange thing about this country is that, apparently, there are absolutely no women in it. You see little girls, four or five years old, in the alleyways but never any women. No matter how much I thought about this I could never figure it out. I had heard that a “city of women” existed somewhere in the world where there were no men, but I’ve never heard of a “city of men”…

Another thing that is very strange about Iran is that a substantial part of the people, about half the population of the country, wrap themselves from head to foot in black sacks, not even leaving space to breathe. And that’s how they go about the alleyways, in that black sack. These people are never allowed to speak and have no right to enter a teahouse or any other place. Their baths are also separate and, at public gatherings like passion plays and mourning-feasts, they have their own viewing sections.

Jamalzadeh

 

Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, “What’s Sauce for the Goose,” in Once Upon A Time, trans. Heshmat Moayyad and Paul Sprachman, New York: Bibliotheca Persica, 1985, 96-7.

Editor’s Note: Reza Shah outlawed women’s veiling as part of his modern state-building reforms designed to end gender segregation. This law lasted until the 1941 Allied Invasion of WWII in Iran at which point veiling would become a personal choice. Compulsory veiling was instituted after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Persian Voices: Shackles of Life

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Persian Voices: Shackles of Life

We are still in the shackles of life.

Sadeq Hedayat

 

Editor’s Note: Sadegh Hedayat studied in France and returned to Iran without finishing school, but became one of the most important writers of the 20th century. His generation of literary elites embraced modern industrial development and social change yet criticized Pahlavi autocratic rule which in their view, limited democratic development in Iran. His published fiction works from the Pahlavi time include:  Buried Alive (Zende be gūr), Mongol Shadow (Sāye-ye Moqol), Three Drops of Blood (Se qatre khūn), Chiaroscuro (Sāye-ye roushan), Mister Bow Wow (Vagh Vagh Sahāb), Sampingé (in French), Lunatique (in French), The Blind Owl (Boof-e koor), The Stray Dog (Sag-e velgard), Lady Alaviyeh (Alaviye Khānum),  Velengārī (Tittle-tattle), The Elixir of Life (Āb-e Zendegi), The Pilgrim (Hājī āqā), Tomorrow (Fardā), The Morvari Cannon (Tūp-e Morvari). His style is closely related to Franz Kafka, Edgar Allen Poe, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Anton Chekhov.

Persian Voices: Persian is Sugar

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Persian Voices: Saints and Sinners Treated Alike

In no other place on the face of the earth but in Iran are saints and sinners treated alike. Finally, after five long years of suffering and homelessness, I was returning home.

—Sayyid Muhammad Jamalzadeh, Persian Is Sugar

 

Sayyid Muhammad Jamalzadeh, from the collection: Once Upon a Time. Translated by Iraj Bashiri.

 

Editor’s Note: Persian Is Sugar is a known literary work famous for encapsulating the Constitutional Movement in Iran in which western-educated intellectuals participated in a revolution to transform Iran from autocratic rule to a constitutional monarchy with a parliament. Literary elites were often educated abroad and upon returning home could take up liberal causes though found themselves repeatedly up against larger forces from Iran’s government and conservative Islamic clergy.

Persian Voices: 53 Marxists

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Persian Voices: Bozorg Alavi

Old trees were fighting with one another. From woods the cry of a tortured woman could be heard. The blowing gale had unbounded the silent songs. Chains of rain had fastened the murky sky to the muddy ground. Rivers were revolting and the flowing of water was pouring everywhere.

—Bozorg Alavi, Gilemard

 

Edited by Scott Slovic, Swarnalatha Rangarajan and Vidya Sarveswaran. “Zahra Pasrpour (Bozorg Alavi Gilmard).” Ecocritism of the Global South. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. Page 242. Print.

 

Editor’s Note: Bozorg Alavi was one of the 53 marxists convicted and sent to prison in the show trial of 1938. He originated the new literary genre called, Prison Literature in Iran. Prior to that he published a journal called, Peykar and co-published another journal called, Donya. The surviving prisoners were freed after the Allied Invasion in 1941, and eventually Alavi wrote propaganda for the Tudeh Party. Later, he exiled to Germany.

Persian Voices: The Tale of the Sands

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Persian Voices: The Tale of the Sands

My destiny is to cross the desert.

The Wind crosses the desert and so can you.

But whenever I try, I am absorbed into the sand; and even if I dash myself across, I can only go a little distance.

The Wind does not dash itself… Allow yourself to be absorbed by the Wind… Today you call yourself such and such a river only because you do not know which part of it is even now your essence.

Sufi poem

 

The Tale of the Sands, The Sufis Idries Shah. Introduction by Robert Graves. Page 292 and 293

 

Editor’s Note: Sufism is a branch of Islam which shares a relationship to the practice of alchemy or chemistry in the west. In Iran, the Sufis played a role in bringing about the first shia Islamic State in the form of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501 by Shah Ismail who was the head of a Sufi order, and later the revival of Sufism factored in the founding of the constitutional monarchy in 1906. Sufism also uses the discipline of dance as a form of spiritual conquest.

Persian Voices: Hassan Modarres

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Persian Voices: Hassan Modarres

The weight of a dead body pressed against my chest. Modarres refused to kill and so was killed, poison in tea, choked with his own turban by Reza Shah’s men, buried at night, when shah left Iran, followers found his grave and made a tomb there.

Sadeq Hedayat