The Shahnamehm, also known as The Book of Kings, has been entirely translated into the Spanish language for the first time since it was first published one thousand years ago. This piece of poetry, made up of 62 stories, is one of the main works for the Persian people, and it deals with the history and mythology of Iran. The text was written by Hakim Abdolghasem Ferdowsí and translated by Beatriz de Salas, professor at Azad de Teherán University. The first volume is already for sale in the form of a luxury bilingual edition. The second volume is ready to be printed, while the third one should not take much longer to be finished, according to the translator’s comments on the topic.
Apart from Beatriz de Salas, there are others who are also responsible for translating such an important piece of writing into Spanish: UNESCO and the Venezuelan government are also involved. The Venezuelan embassy in Teherán in fact helped finance the entire project. National authorities have regarded this new translation as a historic landmark for their country, and President Mahmud Ahmadineyad has written a note that will appear at the beginning of the first volume. De Salas has stated she hopes the book works as a step forward towards a closer relationship between the Persian culture and the Hispanic one.
The Legacy of the Shahnameh and its Importance
Beatriz de Salas dedicated almost four years of her life to translating the Shahnamehm, a piece which depicts Persian citizens’ spirit, their idiosyncrasy and costumes. In fact, the book has been so important for the Iranian culture that, according to the translator, around 80 per cent of her students have names which have been taken from the Shahnamehm, even if we take into account all those who have been Beatriz de Salas’s students in the two decades she has been teaching.
Ferdowsi’s work acts as a preserving force keeping culture and customs of the Iranian people alive. When the book was written around 1,000 years ago, the language representing science and literature was Arabic, which was greatly influenced by the Persian language due to its importance for the Quran. Ferdowsi decided to write his book in Persian anyway, which is the reason why this language’s usage was rekindled, together with the culture itself.
Among the various characters, there are some who have a real referent in the times of the Persian Empire, together with others who are mythical in nature. De Salas also highlights the importance that women have in the text, who can see themselves represented in strong characters of noble linage.