The Blind Owl
Sadegh Hedayat’s most famous work is a deeply haunting and disturbing gem of world literature, a classic tale that defies any attempt to tie it down to a single interpretation. Widely regarded as Sadegh Hedayat’s masterpiece, the ‘Blind Owl’ is the most important work of literature to come out of Iran in the past century. On the surface this work seems to be a tale of doomed love, but with the turning of each page basic facts become obscure and the reader soon realizes this book is much more than a love story. Although the Blind Owl has been compared to the works of the Kafka, Rilke and Poe, this work defies categorization.
The story is narrated by a young man, a painter of miniatures, whose name we never learn. He feels an overbearing need to recount an experience he went through that has shattered his whole existence, rendered his life meaningless – “I am obliged to set all this down in order to disentangle the various threads of my story. I am obliged to explain it all for the benefit of my shadow on the wall.” We are slowly drawn into the hallucinatory and confused world of the young man, a world in which a beautiful young woman, an old man and a cypress tree become the recurring motifs. Not only are they the images he always paints but he sees all three in a vision that comes to plague him. This waking dream ends up becoming a nightmare from which the narrator seems unable to escape… Set in a haze of opium, the ‘Blind Owl’ must rank as one of the most mysterious, poetic and macabre works of twentieth century fiction. It is a book of enormous power and this well-overdue reissue sees the return to print of one of the greatest Persian novels ever written.