Back in 1996, I created the Walden mailing list, to discuss what is, for me, one of the most important books written by an American. Long a touchstone for me, Walden is a clear explanation of how one can live a deliberate life.
In 2006, Alireza Taghdarreh joined the Walden mailing list. This Iranian man had taught himself English, and had decided that he simply had to translate Walden into Farsi, the language of his country. Making parallels with the mystical poetry of Rumi, Ali asked questions and made observations about Walden, which helped him, and the rest of the members of the list, better understand this book.
Over the years, Ali worked tirelessly at his translation. He finally achieved the work, and found someone who set up a publishing company to publish Walden in Farsi, as well as, in the future, other writings by Thoreau, Emerson, and others.
Ali has had a great deal of help over the years from Thoreau scholars in the United States. They have sent him books, answered his questions, and invited him to address the annual meeting of the Thoreau Society in Concord.
And he has done so. James Fallows, of The Atlantic, was present at the meeting, and he has published an article on the Atlantic website, An Iranian Scholar Speaks About Thoreau, at Walden Pond. The article includes a video of Ali making a talk to the meeting.
Don Henley and Alireza Taghdarreh at Walden. Photo: Matt Burne.
I bow down in reverence to Ali Taghdarreh, who has dedicated so much of his time to the translation of a book that crosses boundaries and frontiers. His devotion to the work is impressive, and he plans to continue translating Thoreau, and is just starting to tackle Emerson as well.
Ali, congratulations. I wish I could have been there to meet you in person.