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Blind Owl (Oneworld Modern Classics) Paperback – 1 Jul 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Classics Ltd (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847490697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847490698
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 871,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Sadegh Hedayat was born in Teheran in 1903, of an aristocratic family, and spent most of his life there. In 1951, during a stay in Paris, Hedayat committed suicide. Recognised as the outstanding Persian writer of the century, Hedayat is generally credited with having brought his country's language and literature into the mainstream of contemporary writing.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sofia on 14 May 2010
Format: Paperback
It's a awkward thing to pick up a novel by an author described as "the father of modern Persian short stories", read it and wonder what all the fuss was about. Rarely have I felt so underwhelmed by the epithet as I have here for Sadeq Hedayat's novella "The Blind Owl"

To say his novel lacks plot is a huge understatement. This is a surrealist, opium-fuelled, hallucinatory, nightmarish vision which could never fit within the constructs of a conventional novel. It's modernist experimentalism laughs in the face of plot or character or narrative reliability to give you a hypnotic meditation on love, death, mortification, horror and fear. Whilst it may tick all the boxes of "classic" in that it was clearly ground-breaking in Persian fiction, it is a seriously challenging read. It is full of murderous imagery and seemingly endless descriptive repetition ('the hollow, grating laugh, with a quality to make the hairs of one's body stand on end' becomes frankly irritating in its overuse) decorating a love-hate hallucination as it morphs between dream, apparent memory, madness and outright nightmare.

At 106 pages, this is not a long read, but what it lacks in physical weight it amply makes up for in cerebral depth. There is value in this book, it is totally different but it's not an enjoyable book, not by any means.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By maldoror on 15 July 2011
Format: Paperback
The Blind Owl is a short, very dense text, of just over a hundred pages. It's narrated by a lunatic, a lunatic possessed by a cold thread of reason. The first forty pages of the book contain some of the most brilliant, hallucinatory writing I've ever come across. The last sixty aren't bad either. Hedayat employs horror, humour, repetition and acute powers of description to describe one man's madness as told by himself. You could say it emerges from a style of writing pioneered by Dostoyevski, specifically in works such as The Double, (so much in twentieth century literature seems to come from Dosteyevski) or, as mentioned in the forward, the French poets maudits, with their delirious introspection. From an Anglo-Saxon point of view, it feels like it might be the direct heir to Coleridge's Kubla Khan: this is what it's really like inside the pleasuredome, in a land where time drips off the walls and every bead of sweat contains a world refracted within.

What marks out Hedayat's text in particular is the remarkable use of repetition. Which serves as both a source of stability in a world where events seem to obey no temporal logic and also the source of a kind of comic damnation. It's all going to come around again, it's never going to change. Trapped as we are in the same old patterns (script after script; flaw after flaw; fight and flight, etc) the simplicity of Hedayat's device works to remind us that the narrator, for all his opium habits and exotic strangeness, is one of us, human, obedient to the inescapability of fate.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked reading the book although I cannot say that it was my best read. It is quite dark and depressive, at some parts I was even disgusted by the events: though it can say that the writer completed his task in reaching the reader's emotions. No explanation nor hints on what happened and why always keeps you wondering, wanting to read and find and answer. I guess I will need to read it again to completely comprehend the beauty of this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bobbygw on 26 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
First published in Farsi in 1937 by Sadiq Hidayat (also referred to as Sadegh Hedayat), the famous Persian/Iranian writer, it took another 20 years before this amazing novella was made available in English.

The story is hallucinatory, sinister, troubling and strange: all these emotions in a compelling, positive way, if that makes sense. There is a pervading eeriness to it that has echoes of Poe's story, The Best Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Tales), Henry James' The Turn of the Screw (Dover Thrift) and Kafka's claustrophobic environments and strange experiences in The Castle (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) and in the city of Joseph K.'s The Trial (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature). It strikes me that the author has consciously accounted for these influences, though there may be many others from Persian literature, his own culture.

How could you not be drawn in and find it compelling, irrespective - or because of?! - the subject matter and its distinctive writing style? After all, this is a story of madness, obsession and horrific murder, even - perhaps - necrophilia, of the main character laying down in bed with his wife as her body decomposes. (I say perhaps, because you're not certain that this is a deranged fantasy of his, or whether it has actually happened; this sort of uncertainty permeates the entire novella). What I've just described may understandably make it sound like some sort of gross-out horror story, but I assure you it's not; it's much more sophisticated than that, albeit that it remains disturbing, as any tale of madness should be and certainly more haunting than shlock gorish horror fiction!

While the language of the English translation by D. P.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a strange, affecting, poetic book. The author killed himself after he wrote it, so it reeks of death worship, but there are moments of solid poetic beauty in the text. The Blind Owl is unlike anything else you will ever read, and defies linear interpretation. Existential Persian magic fatalism; interesting stuff all round.
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