Translating a work of literature from one language to another is an art form, in which the translated work becomes a "conduit" through which the reader of one language may pass into the cultural world of another. For the translator, the process of translation offers an intimate experience of the text that is perhaps unavailable even to the author. And yet, as M. R. Ghanoonparvar observes at the outset of this book, "every translation is inevitably a failure, with occasional moments of success."
In Translating the Garden, Ghanoonparvar allows readers to watch him in the process of translating Shahrokh Meskub's Goftogu dar Bagh (Dialogue in the Garden) from Persian into English. This short philosophical work uses a conversation between a writer and a painter to explore Persian perceptions of art, literature, nature, identity, and spirituality. As he translates the text, Ghanoonparvar discusses the myriad decisions that a literary translator faces, from word choices to the problems of conveying cultural concepts and deciphering authorial intent. He also compares some of his translated passages with those of other translators to highlight the uniqueness of each act of translation. The complete English translation of Dialogue in the Garden rounds out the volume.