Written in Persian , it tells the story of an unnamed pen case painter, the narrator, who sees in his macabre, feverish nightmares that "the presence of death annihilates all that is imaginary. We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life; it is death that beckons us from the depths of life. If at times we come to a halt, we do so to hear the call of death Throughout our lives, the finger of death points at us. His confessions do not follow a linear progression of events and often repeat and layer themselves thematically, thus lending to the open-ended nature of interpretation of the story.
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Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat ,. Costello Translator. Considered the most important work of modern Iranian literature, The Blind Owl is a haunting tale of loss and spiritual degradation.
Replete with potent symbolism and terrifying surrealistic imagery, Sadegh Hedayat's masterpice details a young man's despair after losing a mysterious lover. And as the author gradually drifts into frenzy and madness, the reader becomes caugh Considered the most important work of modern Iranian literature, The Blind Owl is a haunting tale of loss and spiritual degradation. And as the author gradually drifts into frenzy and madness, the reader becomes caught in the sandstorm of Hedayat's bleak vision of the human condition.
The Blind Owl, which has been translated into many foreign languages, has often been compared to the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 11th by Grove Press first published More Details Original Title.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Blind Owl , please sign up. The D. Costello version seems the most readily available to me but have read that it might not be consistenly true to the text Marc Adler I'm reading and have read the Costello translation.
I've skimmed the Bashiri one, and it was too mechanical and dry. This translation is the one the …more I'm reading and have read the Costello translation. This translation is the one the book's deserved reputation is based on. You won't go wrong with it. See all 3 questions about The Blind Owl…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Blind Owl.
Nov 13, Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing. A friend once told me Sadegh Hedayat wanted the book itself to be the experience and not a book about an experience. So what was my Blind Owl experience? With every page I felt as if I was spiraling down through my subconscious and unconscious until I plunged into the collective unconscious. A female figure in a black cloak and a meeting of eyes, shinny, alluring, sensuous eyes — the anima?
Another turn and there's an ancient old man with white hair and long white beard wi A friend once told me Sadegh Hedayat wanted the book itself to be the experience and not a book about an experience. Another turn and there's an ancient old man with white hair and long white beard with the index finger of his left hand pressed against his lips — the wisdom archetype?
And yet another turn and I was walking in a fantastic landscape of trees and hills of geometrical shapes: cylinders, perfect cones, truncated cones — a dream or hallucination? And there are the eyes again and the ancient old man with his index finger pressed against his lips — a dream or hallucination or a reading of The Blind Owl? I put the book down and walk outside and the landscape is fantastic: all the trees and hills are cylinders, perfect cones and truncated cones and I see up ahead a female figure in a cloak.
View all 41 comments. This classic Iranian novella, darkly romantic and surrealist at its core, is flecked with unsettling realistic detail and structured in a fashion which heralds postmodernism, calling into question the meaning of its own narrative, and—by implication—the function of narrative itself.
It is also the source of a folk belief: people are routinely warned against reading it because doing so may cause suicide. Taken together, what an extraordinary weight for this little book to carry! Its author Sadegh This classic Iranian novella, darkly romantic and surrealist at its core, is flecked with unsettling realistic detail and structured in a fashion which heralds postmodernism, calling into question the meaning of its own narrative, and—by implication—the function of narrative itself.
Its author Sadegh Hedayat , was a product of Catholic education, learning French from the Lazarist brothers in secondary school. At the age of twenty two, he traveled to Belgium for university, having promised his government to become a civil engineer, but he hated Belgian weather, hated civil engineering; soon he moved to Paris to study architecture, then dentistry, then literature.
He immersed himself in Poe, Kafka, and Rilke, experimented with opium and alcohol, and fell headlong in love with a Parisian girl.
When the affair ended, unhappily, he tried to drown himself in the Marne. About this time, he wrote the first draft of The Blind Owl. After four years in France, he returned to Tehran, having failed to earn a degree. He worked as a bank clerk, and hated it; he lived in a country too conservative to permit the publication of his best creative work. Although he was socially and politically engaged--forming a literary circle, dabbling in left-wing politics--he continued to seek comfort and solace in opium and alcohol.
In , he traveled to India, where he first published The Blind Owl ; four years later, when Reza Shah's fall ended strict censorship, he was finally able to publish the book in his native Iran.
It is an extremely unusual book. It tells two stories—or one story in two different forms, surreal and then realistic—involving a bitter young opium addict, a woman he loathes and loves, a cackling old man who wears a turban, and a sudden--perhaps violent--death. The surreal story, which comes first, is the more powerful, its bare-bones narrative rendered hypnotic through artful repetitions of evocative imagery, and it both enriches and undermines the realistic tale which comes after.
It is a gripping, memorable literary experience, and I would advise you to read it. And, no, I do not think it will compel you to commit suicide. It is true, though, that Hedayat did commit suicide, but his death followed years of addiction and disillusionment. After allocating money for his shroud and burial, after stopping up the gaps in his windows and doors, he turned on the gas in his tiny apartment in the heart of the great city of Paris, where years ago his book The Blind Owl had begun.
View all 31 comments. Written in Persian, it tells the story of an unnamed pen case painter, the narrator, who sees in his macabre, feverish nightmares that "the presence of death annihilates all that is imaginary. We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life; it is death that beckons us from the depths of life. If at times we come to a halt, we do so to hear the call of death Throughout our lives, the finger of death points at us.
His confessions do not follow a linear progression of events and often repeat and layer themselves thematically, thus lending to the open-ended nature of interpretation of the story.
View all 15 comments. Shelves: favorites. Is it just me, or does this look like something to be buried in? In the gaps between the clouds the stars gazed down at the earth like gleaming eyes emerging from a mass of coagulated blood. That simile might seem strained, but in context it resonates with earlier images, as Hedayat's technique is accumulation through repetition. This gradually loads actions, utterances, and images with ever greater portentious density, thus a strange unity survives radical shifts in the narrative, abrupt changes of setting, and disjointed chronology.
One gets a distinct sense that beneath the fragmented surface there is a dark logic operating through a few enigmatic motifs and incancatory phrases that resurface over and over. The Blind Owl is distinctly gothic, decidedly "other" than Western, and clearly modernist, but this 3-way intersection of seemingly incompatible strands is braided as evenly as if it were entirely natural, while the atmosphere and psychology reside well within the opium-haze margins of the unnatural.
The modernist disjunctions are no self-conscious experiments, but of the mode most suited to the troubled mind of a man desperate to tell his disturbing story How many stories about love, copulation, marriage and death already exist, not one of which tells the truth! How sick I am of well-constructed plots and brilliant writing! But just after giving that reason--a rejection of other texts--he more firmly locates his inventions within a more shadowy subjective space: The various phases of childhood and maturity are to me nothing but futile words.
They mean something only to other people But my life has always known only one season and one state of being. It is as though it had been spent in some frigid zone and in eternal darkness while all the time within me burned a flame which consumed me as the flame consumes the candle.
The above romance of character is only so consistent in his metaphors, however; his sense of self and surrounding circumstances benefit from no such unchanging stability, troubled as they are by dreaming or being dreamed, writing or being written.
At times he seems to waver between writing to cling to life and writing to seal his coffin. This book is not difficult to read; although loaded with enigmatic symbolism and surreal dreamlike vignettes, on the sentence level the language is quite simple, almost childlike, but it is a deceptive simplicity as with Kafka or Borges and, like those writers, Hedayat knows that the otherworldly is often best rendered in very grounded language.
Rarely does the madness go purple.
Sadegh Hedayat’s The Blind Owl: An Introduction
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The Blind Owl
Sadeq Hedayat was born on 17 February and died on 9 April Many members of his extended family were important state officials, political leaders and army generals, both in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of his short stories are in a critical realist style and are regarded as some of the best written in 20th century Iran. But his most original contribution was the use of modernist, more often surrealist, techniques in Persian fiction. Thus, he was not only a great writer, but also the founder of modernism in Persian fiction.
Delirium, desire and despair: The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat. Our Assessment: A- : fascinating but opaque. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review 's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The complete review 's Review :.
The Blind Owl and Other Stories
We had it all: walls and walls of the apartment I grew up in in suburban Los Angeles were lined with books, Persian and English. I was barely double-digits when I first heard the title Buf-i Kur. When I inquired about it my father said it was a masterpiece of Persian literature, written before he was born. What was it about? I asked. Is it about a blind owl? Do we have it?