Welcome to Iran
Iran as one of the oldest ancient civilization of the world has influenced different parts of the world from the Nile River to Europe via its culture. It is located along the historical trade route of the Silk Road, the world oldest route; imagine that used to train of camels passed through the route. Iran enjoys a great legacy of ruins and hallowed stonework.
Culture is integral part of Iranian civilization.The art, music, architecture, poetry, philosophy, traditions, and ideology of Iran have made it a continuously important nation in the global community. In fact, many Iranians believe their culture to be the one and only reason why their civilization has continuously survived thousands of years of plethoric calamities.Iran with respect to its geographical condition is a paradise for all of the nature lovers. more....
From 1999 to 2002, during the hopeful presidency of the reform-minded Mohammad Khatami (a former head of Iran’s national library), Iran seemed to be undergoing a literary revival. The publishing houses with in-store shops invested in attractive décor, better lighting and cafes. I would meet friends for coffee, browse magazines and take home a few books, which suddenly had elegant ornamental covers — the complete Barnes & Noble experience.
But much like the Khatami era itself, Tehran’s literary spring was fleeting. Independent journalists published a handful of daring books, most importantly Akbar Ganji’s “Dark House of Ghosts,” which implicated senior officials in the killings of intellectuals in the late 1990s. But as the hard-line establishment cracked down, several journalist-authors went to prison, and many in-store cafes were closed on various pretexts. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance was chastised for relaxing its standards and resumed vetting books with the same humorless strictness.
The ministry checks manuscripts mainly for erotic and religious transgression. Today, if a novel has made it past the censors, most Iranians assume that it has been tampered with and that they are better off searching for the Shah-era edition or the bootleg film version. Even in fiction, all relationships must conform to Islamic law. In the most recent vetted edition of “Madame Bovary,” for example, Emma’s adultery is omitted. Characters in Western novels who drink Champagne or whiskey find themselves uniformly sipping doogh, an Iranian yogurt soda that has never made anyone tipsy.
Occasionally, a work of homegrown fiction manages to be both absorbing and benign by the standards of Islamic decency. Saideh Ghods’s best-selling novel “Kimia Khatoun,” which revisits the life of Shams-e Tabrizi, the Sufi mystic who inspired the poetry of Rumi, from the perspective of Tabrizi’s discontented wife, is a case in point. Published in 2004, it stirred huge controversy for its powerful feminist narrative and bold suggestion that the women behind Persia’s great literary men might have preferred to be elsewhere.
Still, for every successful novel, there are 10 that never make it past the censor or off the author’s desk. In some cases, the authorities embargo published books after they have already approved them. As a result, publishers are reluctant to commission new works and often sit on manuscripts for years. Some have turned away from contemporary literature altogether. The Western fascination with Rumi, for example, has heightened the already enthusiastic interest in Iran, and publishers are putting out new criticism and fresh translations. “The Persian classics create fewer problems,” Mohammad-Reza Zolfaghari, an editor at the Chaveh publishing house, said.
For some, literary journalism offers something of a way out. Though they practice self-censorship, the dozens of small magazines that thrive in Iran find themselves less constricted. With circulations of 2,000 to 5,000, they offer a mélange of criticism, essays and sketches by accomplished, polyglot writers who in a different Iran would be writing books. “Since people don’t trust books anymore, it is the journals that are keeping literary culture alive,” Reza Seyyed Hosseini, Iran’s pre-eminent translator of French literature, said. They also expose Iranians to international authors. At a former military barracks bequeathed by Khatami to “art,” the journal Bukhara hosts a popular evening literary series dedicated to writers like Umberto Eco and Orhan Pamuk — the first time in recent history that literary events have figured importantly in Tehran’s cultural calendar.
Still, Iranians face the sometimes difficult task of tracking down those authors’ work. Often the search leads to the book stalls around Tehran University, which do a brisk black-market trade. Like booksellers everywhere, the proprietors are brimming with recommendations. When I bought a Virginia Woolf novel not long ago, one confided, “If you give me a week, I can get you Joyce Carol Oates.”Continue reading the main story