Poetry, Prose, and Translations of Dick Davis

On Dick Davis
by J. Zimmerman

* Links. * Poetry. * Translation. * Books.



Translations — Prose

My uncle Napoleon

My uncle Napoleon (1973) by Iraj Pezeshkzad, translated (1996) by Dick Davis, with an introduction by Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Tehran).

A delightful Iranian novel: a soap-opera masterpiece of strong personalities and conflicting interests particularly concerning love. Davis had give English-speakers access to a terrific work of contemporary fiction.

Shahnameh, The Persian Book Of Kings

Shahnameh: The Persian Book Of Kings (10th century) by Abolqasem Ferdowsi (also called Firdawsai), translated (since 1997; this single volume published 2006) by Dick Davis, with an introduction by Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Tehran).

Dick Davis opens his Introduction with:

The Shahnameh is the national epic of Iran, or Persia as the country used to be called, composed by the poet Ferdowsi [born 940 C.E.] in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries C.E. Its subject matter is vast, being nothing less than the history of the country and its people from the creation of the world up to the Arab conquest, which brought the then-new religion of Islam to Iran, in the seventh century C.E.

... In its great length [equivalent to 100,000 lines of verse in English], and in its multiplicity of characters and generations, as well as in ... the existence of an ancient and still-living folk tradition that continues both to feed the poem and feed of it, and produce new versions of familiar stories ... the Shahnameh often seems closer to Indian epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana than to say the Iliad.

... [Beyond the introductory material] the fundamental structure of the poem is that of a royal chronicle ... fifty monarchs; three of them are queens.

... The nature of the good man, the good hero, is a central focus of Ferdowsi's concern [as is] the poem['s] ... strong ethical bias.

As Azar Nafisi says in her introduction,

[W]e have to be grateful to Dick Davis for weaving this golden thread into the fabric of another language. In his translations of these selections from Shahnameh he conveys the unique poetic texture of Ferdowsi's great epic.



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