Breaking: Iranian translator Kayhan Bahmani working on Colin McGinn’s “Shakespeare’s Philosophy”
TEHRAN – Iranian translator Kayhan Bahmani who has rendered numerous books from Western literature into Persian is currently working on British philosopher Colin McGinn’s book “Shakespeare’s Philosophy: Discovering the Meaning Behind the Plays”.
“This book has been authored by a philosopher based on Shakespeare’s most famous works,” Bahmani told the Persian service of Honaronline on Thursday.
“I needed to carry out much research to translate the book and I’m still working on this book,” he added.
Shakespeare’s plays are usually studied by literary scholars and historians, and the books about him from those perspectives are legion. It is most unusual for a trained philosopher to give us his insight, as Colin McGinn does here, into six of Shakespeare’s greatest plays — “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “Macbeth”, “King Lear” and “The Tempest”.
In his brilliant commentary, McGinn explores Shakespeare’s philosophy of life and illustrates how he was influenced, for example, by the essays of Montaigne that were translated into English while Shakespeare was writing. In addition to chapters on the great plays, there are also essays on Shakespeare and gender and his plays from the aspects of psychology, ethics and tragedy.
As McGinn says about Shakespeare, “There is not a sentimental bone in his body. He has the curiosity of a scientist, the judgment of a philosopher and the soul of a poet.”
McGinn relates the ideas in the plays to the later philosophers such as David Hume and the modern commentaries of critics such as Harold Bloom. The book is an exhilarating reading experience, especially at a time when a new audience has opened up for the greatest writer in English.
Bahmani’s translation of American author Anne Tyler’s 2016 novel “Vinegar Girl” came into Iranian bookstores in summer. It is the third book of Random House’s “Hogarth Shakespeare” project, in which contemporary novelists retell stories from Shakespeare’s plays.
Tyler’s novels “Digging to America”, “Back When We Were Grownups” and “Morgan’s Passing” have also been translated by Bahmani.
“Publishers no longer welcome new books and fewer books are published, so I lack motivation to do translation,” he lamented.
He is also the translator of French writer Jean Echenoz’s “Piano”, American writers Elmore Leonard’s “Three-Ten to Yuma”, Swedish writer Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg’s “The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules” and “The Little Old Lady Who Struck Lucky Again” and several other works.
Photo: Iranian translator Kayhan Bahmani in an undated photo.