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“God” is dead – how to avoid censorship and publish the unpublishable…

February 5, 2013


Young Stalin on the cover of Martin Amis’s book Koba the Dread (Istalin-e-Makhoof, Tehran 2004)


The Iranian translation of Martin Amis’s book on Stalin Koba the Dread (Istalin-e-Makhoof) is not only surprisingly accurate, but even elegant in finding solutions for Amis’s stylish and deceivingly simple prose.

The censorship didn’t intervene in the translation, not even where Amis gives his own definitions of what is “militant Islam” and how this Islam à l’Iranienne, with its penchant for martyrdom, can be called agonism: “the permanent struggle of the self-appointed martyr“. The Iranian translator uses here a made-up word to render agonism, which is even more violent in translation: zajrgaraabi ( زجرگرابی )…

All this confirms an earlier discovery: when comparing the Iranian translation of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra with the original, I was certain that one sentence had been cut out – the famous exclamation “God is dead“!… In this theocratic state, I thought, “God is dead” sounds more obscene than any form of pornography…

… But no, the sentence is there, together with all the rest, thanks to an extremely clever device: God is put between quotation marks – “God“… For the censorship, this made the whole thing acceptable, as if it was just an allusion to some abstract concept !…

“God” is dead – خدا” مرده است“ – “Khuda” morde ast. 

No, the anti-establishment cultivated Iranians don’t want to get rid of God… They just put Him between inverted commas…



See also

Roasted-hearted melody : The Sufi poets’ obssession with kebab…, about twisted translations  of Persian poetry:


Anarhia, Supraomul si stânga nietzscheana (și transpunerea ei în Iran)…


  1. Extrem de abilă și de simplă găselnița. Și foarte adevărată. Și eu am tendința să-i pun ghilimele lui Dumnezeu.

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