Translating a work that employs inventive literary techniques is an already arduous task, however, negotiating with a system of imposed censorship makes the process of translating and publishing increasingly more intricate. The Iranian Ministry of Cultural and Islamic Guidance declared my uncensored translation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita (which I had had to publish and disseminate underground) an obscene publication, prohibited further sales, and ordered its confiscation. The censorship of words, themes, and sometimes complete works is a common hazard for Persian translators and frames my current work translating Ulysses. In this essay, I explore the challenges of translating modernist works, like Lolita, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night, as well as Ulysses, under a system of imposed censorship and discuss the methods I employ to evade it.
When translating Ulysses, I have the additional challenge of transforming Joyce's unconventional literary style into a language that has a distinct culture, linguistic history, and syntactic structure. Joyce's experimental literary techniques, the novel's careful structuring, and its intricate wordplay prompts the Iranian translator to challenge the limitations of Persian prose. Therefore, I discuss the strategies I use to ensure that Persian readers encounter the translation in the same way that an English reader might interact with the source text.