Ebrahim Younesi, translating no more

The Farsi translator of “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Spartacus” has died.  I am sure many of you have read at least one, or several, of his numerous translations.  Ebrahim Younesi, renowned Persian literary figure and translator, died on February 8, 2012, at the age of 85.

He was born in 1926-27 (exact day and month is unknown) in “Bahe” (بانه), in the province of Kurdistan, near Iran-Iraq border.

Before the August 19, 1953 Iranian coup d’etat, Younesi was an officer in the secret Tudeh Party Military Organization of Iran (سازمانِ نظامیِ حزبِ تودهِ ایران).  After the coup and overthrow of the Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, he was arrested and sentenced to death by execution; however his execution sentence was reduced to life imprisonment because he had lost one of his feet while serving in the military in the freezing cold of Orūmīyeh.  He spend many years in prison, including one year in solitary confinement.  While he was in prison he learned the French language from his fellow prison-mates.

After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, he was appointed as the governor (استاندار) of Kurdistan Province during Mehdi Bazargan interim government, but three months later, Younesi resigned from this post.

Younesi has written several books in the Persian language, translated eighty books from English to Farsi, and one book from French to Farsi.  Most of the books he translated are world renowned masterpieces (see a partial list below).

A couple of years ago, he was inflicted with Alzheimer disease and spent the rest of his life in need of care, which in that regard he said, “I have no money to spend on medical treatment abroad.  I only receive a meager retirement pension.”

Iran has lost another one of its treasures.

A partial list of his literary translations:

A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

Spartacus” by Howard Fast

“A Pair of Blue Eyes”, “Far From The Madding Crowd”, “Jude The Obscure”, and “The Return Of The Native” by Thomas Hardy

“A History of Russian Literature”, in ten volumes, by D. S. Mirsky (Dmitry Petrovich Svyatopolk-Mirsky)


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