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Blind Owl [Paperback]

Sadegh Hedayat
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Jan 2002
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. 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; New edition edition (17 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841951943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841951942
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,283,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Sadegh Hedayat was born in 1903 in Teheran, where he spent most of his life. In the 1940s he studied existential philosophy with Jean-Paul Sartre. Through his writing he brought his country's language and literature into the mainstream. He committed suicide in 1951.

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THERE are sores which slowly erode the mind in solitude like a kind of canker. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blindly stumbling around in the dark 14 May 2010
By Sofia
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
5.0 out of 5 stars kubla khan, inside out 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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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Persian Haunted Tale 7 Jan 2001
By A Customer
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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5.0 out of 5 stars far beyond my expectation ! 11 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
absolutely amazing , vomiting all types of beliefs and loathing the triviality of life , extremely gloomy.spoken from the heart rather than just writing any kind of literature. Hedayat took me into a vivid psychological ride. and i enjoyed it !
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Its almost a story that wasn't told. 17 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a wonderful example of literature. It is moving, it is immersive, its moving, and all the time it pulls you along with this cyclic need to understand. You almost become an extension of the main character. Absolutely incredible and a classic forever.
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