Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000227, Thu, 7 Apr 1994 10:04:02 -0700

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 7 Apr 94 15:39:00 GMT
From: mlj@hlwpd.att.com
To: nabokv-l@ucsbvm.bitnet

I've acquired a copy of the Farsi (or Persian) translation
of Invitation to a Beheading which Don Johnson mentioned
last November. I asked a friend to translate the basic
information in the book so that I could add the citation to
my bibliography.

He became inspired and decided that he wanted to translate
the translator's book-ending "note". He said that he had
never translated an extensive piece of text before from his
native Farsi into English and wanted to take up the

Three comments:
- The title can more completely be translated as
"Invitation to a beheading ceremony".
- The Persian secular calendar runs from March 21 to
March 20. The translation's publishing date is given
as "1370", which equates to 1991/2.
- I have given the book a tentative numbering of D16.16
to fit it into my bibliographic scheme.

A side thought:
I have logged several hundred translations of VN's
works done in at least three dozen different
languages. Many of those works have "forewords" and
"afterwords" and "comments" and "notes" by the
translators giving their views of the books and what
difficulties they had in translating them. A
fascinating project would be a set of translations into
English of these "forewords". The Internet, with its
lines of communications throughout the world, would be
the ideal place to get it started.

So here I offer an Englishing of the "note".

- Michael Juliar {att!hlwpd!mlj | mlj@hlwpd.att.com}


D16.16 Farsi (Persian): Da'vat bih marasim-i gardan'zani
[Invitation to a beheading (ceremony)]. Translated by Ahmad
Khazai. Teheran: Ghatreh Publishing, 1991/2. Wrappers.

Invitation to a Beheading is a story about a system which
has the ultimate objective of removing human identity. Sin
Sinatos (a name which could remind us of any person), like
any person with identity and dignity, is a prisoner of such
a system--a system with a colorful appearance and
artificial scenery but without any reflection of human
independence. It considers everybody in the same way and
everything transparent. Everybody must be like a mirror
which has only reflection and nothing from itself. In such
a world where everybody exists only in physical terms,
which has ultimately proven to be empty, Sin Sinatos has a
spirit full of unknowns with no reflection in a
totalitarian world. He goes to prison for the reason that
he is not transparent.

At the same time, Sin Sinatos is a prisoner of his own
notions and ideas too, because his search for freedom lies
in such an artificial world. He does not understand that
the ceremony for the execution is the foundation of a world
which has sentenced him to be executed, and that the
resulting death is the death of the mind. He does not
understand that this death is happening at any moment in
his soul and his mind. It does not have any specific
date. But Sin Sinatos is looking for a specific date for
the execution. This is why one thinks that his mind has
not grown enough.

Invitation to a Beheading is a glance at a totalitarian
society from a perspective that continuously tries to put
aside unrealistic notions so that it can reach for the
truth. First, Sin Sinatos tries to get help from the
daughter of the jail director. But this girl first brings
him to the childhood world and ultimately to the world of
the prison. Meanwhile, Mr. Pierre, the executioner, claims
that he also wants to free Mr. Sin Sinatos. Such a notion
exists because Sin Sinatos's mind is partially ready to
accept lies. Only when Mr. Sin Sinatos's mind passes the
painful process of "recognition," his body flies toward a
place where bodies and souls like his are located. Hence,
the totalitarian world comes down.

The translation of this book faced many difficulties,
Hence, it is not what I once dreamed it to be. Some of
the features in the text are due to Mr. Hormoz Riahi, who
helped a lot in putting this book together.

Ahmad Khazai