The Cannon is the first and best of Gholamhossein Saedi’s three full-length novels. The action is based on historical events taking place in northwestern part of Iran during the constitutional Revolution in the earlier part of the twentieth century. It has an unwavering focus on a single character, that of Mullah Mir Hashem, and develops the plot based on the specificities of that character. Other interesting characters also emerge in the course of the action, but Saedi successfully avoids a diffusion of focus, utilizing ancillary characters to enrich the role of the protagonist in the development of the plotline. The action involves an itinerant mullah who for many years has ministered to the religious and spiritual needs of the tribes scattered in the Azarbaijan province. In the process he has accumulated a small fortune in the form of herds of sheep that he relegates to the care of various tribes. With the rising tide of the Constitutional Revolution and the direct intervention of Russian troops in the northern territories in support of the central government in Tehran in an effort to prevent the eruption of the tribal region, the mullah faces a dilemma whether to ingratiate himself with the commanding general of the Cossack division to protect his interests in case of a conflagration, or to side with the tribes who increasingly display a tendency to join the revolutionaries in Tabriz, the provincial capital. The plot climbs to an exciting climax and the story comes to an unpredictable and intriguing end.
Gholam-Hossein Saedi (1936-1986) is the most important twentieth century Persian dramatist. He was also a prolific ethnographer, editor, dramatist, and fiction writer. A psychiatrist by training, his psychological insights are evident in his writings.
With more than forty works of fiction, non-fiction, and drama to his credit, Saedi was an embodiment of the literary spirit of his generation which had its beginning in the early years after the Second World War, and died with the installation of clerical rule in 1979.
Born in 1936 in Tabriz to a middle-class family, he remained in his home town until he completed his medical degree in 1960. However, his interests lay more in writing and exposing the social and political ills of his country. A theme common in his writings is his objection to the eras mindless following of the Western mores.
His writings were mainly known in literary circles until 1968 when the director Dariush Mehrjui made a film based on a script by Saedi. The Cow became a critical success both in Iran and abroad and brought Saedi popular recognition.
After the Islamic revolution, Saedi fled to exile in France, where he resurrected the literary magazine Alefba. In 1985, Gholam-Hossein Saedi, mainly because of his addiction to alcohol, passed away in a Paris hospital.
Faridoun Farrokh was born and educated in Iran where he began a career of teaching, initially in schools and later at the university level. His involvement with translation, literary and otherwise, resulted from his work with the press in Iran. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in English literature from the University of Kansas and Middle Tennessee State University, respectively. Currently, he is a professor of English at Texas A&M International University in Laredo and his academic specialty and research interests are in the English literature of the eighteenth century, rhetoric, and translation. He has publications both in English and Persian. His latest work is the translation of Goli Taraghi’s short-story collection, A Mansion in the Sky, published by the University of Texas Press, 2003.