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Bahman Sholevar (Persian: بهمن شعله‌ور) is an Iranian-American novelist, poet, translator, critic, psychiatrist and political activist. He began writing and translating at age 13. At ages 18 and 19 he translated William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land into Persian, and these still are renowned as two classics of translation in modern Persian literature. In 1967, after his first novel The Night's Journey was banned in Iran, he immigrated to the United States and in 1981 he became a dual citizen of the United States and Iran. Although most of his writings in the past 42 years have been in English, published outside Iran; although The Night's Journey has never been allowed republication,[1] though sold in thousands of unlicensed copies; and although the Persian version of his last novel, Dead Reckoning, has never been given a "publication permit" in Iran, at their latest re-appraisals some Iranian critics have named him "the most influential Persian writer of the past four decades," [2][3][4][5][6] "one who has had the most influence on the writers of the younger generations."[7][8][9][10]

Bahman Sholevar
Born (1941-02-06) February 6, 1941 (age 81)
Tehran, Iran
OccupationPoet, writer, translator, critic and psychiatrist.

He has had other careers as diplomat, physician, psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry and of literature, radio and television commentator, and an international lecturer on “the creative process,” and on “the psychology of arts and artists.” In the past 42 years he has divided his time between writing, translating, practicing medicine and psychiatry, teaching literature and psychiatry at various American universities, lecturing around the world, and fighting against tyranny in Iran in general, and for freedom and human rights of Iranian people, especially Iranian women and Iranian writers and artists. He writes in five languages, namely, Persian, English, Spanish, Italian, and French.


Bahman Sholevar was born in Tehran on February 6, 1941, in a politically conscious family. His paternal grandfather had fought alongside Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 of Iran, and his paternal grandmother was the sister of the famous Sheikh Mohammad Khiabani, another of the freedom fighters for the Iranian Constitution. His father, born in Tabriz, was the first graduate of the Law School of the University of Tehran. He was a judge, a lawyer, and the publisher and editor of the newspaper Sholevar. He also had published a small book of verse in his youth. Bahman's mother was among the first group of nurses graduating from the University of Tehran.

Bahman Sholevar finished his elementary and secondary educations in Tehran. He studied Medicine at the University of Tehran, but left his studies before receiving his MD degree to accept a diplomatic post in Turkey, as the Economic Secretary of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). He used this position to get the publication permit in Iran for his novel The Night's Journey, a novel which he had written six years earlier but which no publisher had dared to send to the censors' office for a publication permit. He had foreseen that the novel would be banned after publication and that his life would be in danger. The Night's Journey was banned a few months after its publication and the author was able to escape to the United States on his diplomatic passport. He received a fellowship to the University of Iowa's International Writing Program for 1968–1969 and a scholarship to study for a Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa. (He had a Diploma of English Studies from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. in English from the University of North Texas.) After receiving degrees of M.F.A., M.A. , and Ph.D. in English and Modern Letters (1968–1973) he re-studied Medicine at Hahnemann University of Philadelphia and received his M.D. degree in 1976. He followed specialty training in psychiatry at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and became a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and began teaching at Thomas Jefferson University and other Philadelphia area universities. He has been an elected Fellow of the Philadelphia College of Physicians and an elected member of New York Academy of Sciences.

From 1968 to 1979 Sholevar was an active and vocal opponent of the Shah's regime and an advocate for freedom and human rights in Iran, until the latter's overthrow by the Iranian revolution of 1979. Immediately after that revolution, he became an equally vocal and active opponent of the corrupt theocratic tyranny that replaced the corrupt secular tyranny of the Shah. In a satiric poem "An Ode to the Revolution" which he published in 1980 he wrote:

        This well-favored friend, one more 
        Time after a thousand, has deceived us...
        The crowned butcher is gone; on his 
        Throne sits the turbaned butcher.
        But the play is the same,
        The same the players, 
        With a thousand new masks,
        But with one difference:
        Yesterday's wolves are today's lambs.

And in his novel Dead Reckoning, the protagonist returns to Iran to attend his mother's funeral, after 15 years of being away, only to be handcuffed and blindfolded and be taken away to Evin prison, to be tortured by the same torturers who had tortured his brother to death 17 years earlier. The only difference is that this time the torturers have full beards and praying beads and recite "In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful," before they torture.

In 2007, after 42 years in self-imposed exile, Sholevar returned to Iran at the invitation of a group of writers and publishers. His translations of Faulkner and T. S. Eliot had been given the reprint permits and the Persian version of his latest novel, Dead Reckoning, had been submitted by a publisher to the Censors' Office (euphemistically called "the Office of Islamic Guidance."Even though the program to honor him at the "House of Art" was banned by the authorities, the reception and welcome by the writers and the newspapers and magazines were so profuse that finally even the government's radio and television decided to join the flood of interview-seekers.

He extended his self-imposed exile in the United States indefinitely and became a citizen of the United States in 1981. He did not visit Iran again until 2007, after 42 years of absence. Even though his translations have been allowed republication in Iran, his original writings still are under a ban. His last novel in Persian, titled Bi Lengar, has been awaiting a publication permit for nearly two years from the Censorship office of the Islamic Republic of Iran (euphemistically called “Department of Culture and Islamic Guidance.”

Sholevar currently resides in Pennsylvania and writes in five languages, English, Persian, Spanish, Italian, and French. Though most of his publications in the past forty years have been in English, or other European languages.

Major works


  1. Epic of Life, Epic of Death, حماسۀ مرگ ، حماسۀ زندگیٍ (Tehran: 1960).
  2. Making Connection: Poems of Exile (Philadelphia: 1979).
  3. ”An Ode to Revolution” (Satirical poem), Iranshahr, vol. iii, no. 7, May 1960.
  4. ”A Blood Covenant”, Iranshahr, vol. iii, no. 16, July 1960.
  5. The Angel with Bush-Baby Eyes and other poems (Philadelphia: 1982)
  6. The Love Song of Achilles and other poems (Philadelphia: 1982)
  7. Odysseus' Homecoming (Philadelphia: 1982)
  8. The New Adam: Poems of Renewal (Philadelphia: 1982)
  9. Rooted in Volcanic Ashes (Philadelphia: 1988)
  10. "Four poems" in North Atlantic Review: Writers in Exile, no. 4, 1992.
  11. Il Rimpatrio d'Odysseo/ Odysseus' Homecoming (Italian-English) (Philadelphia: 2009)


  1. سفرشب (Safar-e-Shab) , Khoosheh Publications, (Tehran :1976)
  2. The Night's Journey & the Coming of the Messiah, No. 7 in Modern Persian Literature Series of Columbia University's Bibliotheca Persica, (Philadelphia: 1984)
  3. Excerpts from the novel Dead Reckoning, in North Atlantic Review: Writers in Exile, No 4, 1992.
  4. Dead Reckoning (English Original) (Philadelphia: 1992)
  5. A La Deriva (Spanish Translation) (Philadelphia: 2009)
  6. Alla Deriva (Italian Translation) (Philadelphia: 2009)
  7. À La Dérive (French Translation) (Philadelphia: 2009)
  8. بی لنگر (Bi Lengar) (Persian Translation) (Philadelphia: 2009)
  9. سفر شب وظهور حضرت (Safar-e-Shab va Zohoor-e-Hazrat) (Philadelphia: 2009)


  1. ”About William Faulkner and The Sound and the Fury,” Translator's Preface, Tehran, 1959.
  2. ”About T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land,” Translator's Preface, Arash, vol. ii, no. 2, Tehran, 1963.
  3. ”A New Look at T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land,” Cheshmeh Publications, Tehran 2007.
  4. "The Creative Process: A Psychoanalytic Discussion" in The Arts in Psychotherapy Journal, vol. 8, no. 2, 1981, New York.
  5. The Creative Process: A Psychoanalytic Discussion (with W. G. Niederland) (Philadelphia: 1984)
  6. "Iran: A history of mysticism, poetry and revolution," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 5, 1986.
  7. "Afraštah, Mohammad Ali"', in Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. 1, Fascicle 6, London, Boston, Melbourne and Henley, 1984.
  8. “I still remember that voice” . Critical essay in memory of Ahmad Shamloo, Shahrvand Emrooz, no. 61, (Tehran: 2007)

Major translations into Persian

  1. Short Stories by Steinbeck, Hemingway & Chekhov, with a critical preface, Tehran, 1953
  2. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, (Tehran: 1956, 1957, 1958...2007).
  3. Ralph Nading Hill, The Doctors Who Conquered Yellow Fever, (Tehran: 1957).
  4. Sterling North, From Log Cabin to the White House: A Biography of Lincoln, (Tehran: 1958).
  5. T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, Arash, with a critical preface, Vol. II, No.2, (Tehran: 1963).
  6. T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, with a new critical preface, Cheshmeh Publications (Tehran: 2007).


  1. The Creative Process: A Psychoanalytic Discussion (Philadelphia: 1984).
  2. Cereminies: A Book of Poems by John High, (Philadelphia: 1984).

Critiques of his writings

Interviews, presentations and discussions

See also


  1. List of Books & Journals Banned in Iran
  2. Archived 2010-02-05 at the Wayback Machine | Dialogue With Dibache
  3. Shargh Newspaper, Yunes Tarakame, Bahman 2004
  4. Etemad Newspaper, Hakim Maani, 2008.
  5. Iran Name Journal, Kinga Markoosh, 1986
  6. Roozegar, Mehdi Yazdani Khorram, "Writing of the Past Days" & "The Long Days of Shemiran's Streets", Oct 21 & Oct 28, 2006
  7. مهدی یزدانی خرم/محسن آزرم: "مردی که زیاد می‌داند"، نقد نوشته‌های بهمن شعله‌ور، شهروند امروز، ۲ دی ۱۳۸۶.
  8. Khoosheh, Kambiz Farrokhi, A Critique of The Night's Journey, 1368.
  9. Shahrvand-e-Emrooz Magazine, Yaser Noroozi, 2007.
  10. Iranian National TV, September 21, 1968.

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