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The Blind Owl

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  17,367 ratings  ·  1,483 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published January 11th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1935)
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Eva It's not Arabic, but Farsi. It's the language of Iran, where Sadegh Hedayat is from and it's thus the language in which he wrote.…moreIt's not Arabic, but Farsi. It's the language of Iran, where Sadegh Hedayat is from and it's thus the language in which he wrote. (less)
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…moreI'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 book's deserved reputation is based on. You won't go wrong with it. (less)

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Glenn Russell
Nov 13, 2014 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. I couldn’t agree more. 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
Bill Kerwin
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Boof-e koor = The Blind Owl, Sadegh Hedayat
The Blind Owl (1936; Persian: Boof-e koor) is Sadegh Hedayat's magnum opus and a major literary work of 20th century Iran. 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
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nightmare lovers
Shelves: favorites

Is it just me, or does this look like something to be buried in?

A melancholic decorator of Persian pen cases (see above) experiences strange visions, dissolved boundaries between his art and reality, inexplicable longing, mysterious midnight visitors, gory hallucinatory chores, and horse-drawn hearse rides through gloomy star-lit mists, all embroidered with multiple threads of déjà vu and a dreamy sense of such enveloping accursedness that it would prompt Edgar Allen Poe himself to say "Whoa,
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mala by: Gregsamsa
"In Iran of the 1950's, at school, and at home, young people were advised to stay away from the works of Sadeq Hedayat, epecially his Blind Owl. A few young people had strayed from this rule and, reportedly, had committed suicide."*

A nightmare from beginning to end – and that's cause the cosmic drama of death & rebirth, the allegory of desire and its renunciation that Hedayat so masterfully crafts in the brief pages of a novella, are a nightmare in themselves.
If you thought that Invention of
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
This book is dark, sad, funereal yet ethereal in its beautiful lyrical prose. Self-published in 1937 in Bombay, this "psycho-fiction" got published only in 1941 in Tehran, Iran by its author, Sadegh Hedayat (1903-1951) but it was subsequently banned. The reason: it caused many suicides in Iran after it came out. And well, if you must know, Hedayat also committed suicide 10 years after this book's Tehran publication. While in his apartment in France, Hedayat, at 48, gassed himself to his death.

Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Owls, particularly screech owls, which is what the Blind Owl refers to, are harbingers of death the world over: no less so in Persian folklore. Considering the morose obsession with death within the novel, following which Hedayat committed suicide, it reads like a last will and testament with hindsight.

In its entirety, this is one spectacular hallucogenic trip triggered by opium, tempered with brief moments of withdrawal when the nameless narrator (none of the characters within are named, btw)
Manuel Antão
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1981
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Growing Inward: "The Blind Owl" by by Sadegh Hedayat

(Original Review, 1981-04-20)

“I was growing inward incessantly; like an animal that hibernates during the wintertime, I could hear other peoples' voices with my ears; my own voice, however, I could hear only in my throat. The loneliness and the solitude that lurked behind me were like a condensed, thick, eternal night, like one of those nights with a dense, persistent, sticky darkness
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Where to begin to describe this tale of love, madness, possibly hallucinogenic ramblings that circle back and forth and in and out upon themselves. oddly repeating certain phrases until you may be able to quote them without the page in front of you. This is a tale mostly of musings on death, with occasion side thoughts of murder and hatred. The author later committed suicide.

Some of the images presented in the book, especially the oddly geometric houses in which people can not live, seem almost
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brian by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

The fact of dying is a fearful thing in itself but the consciousness that one is dead would be far worse.

It doesn't really matter if Hedayat's protagonist in this story is drug-addled, woman-crazy or just plain insane; as the reader we are forced to inhabit this space alongside him, for the length of the story, come what may. The repitition of madness - and the seeing of the same demons, the same themes of death, in every person and at every turn - creates a haunting claustrophobic experience.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book that, sadly, missed the mark— told by an unnamed and highly unreliable narrator, who appears, at first, as some sort of a crossover of Kafka and Poe to me in all their surrealistic glory, but in the progress develops traits that are, frankly spoken, too much for me too swallow or even digest— Insanity, Passion, Love, perhaps, but also a strange kind of death wish— that of himself but also of others— that made me cringe. Furthermore about two thirds of the text, a narration within a ...more
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What started out to be a slow book found its pace and took off about a quarter of the way in. Normally this sluggish start would knock a star off my rating for the book, but the remainder was so fantastic it made up for the beginning. At first, I found the narration fairly clean and clear, somewhat akin to Calvino's prose, but with too much treacle and self-absorbed whining. Before long, however, I learned that Hedayat was merely setting a baseline that led into the narrator's more winding, ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morphantasy, seeped in a maddened, weary bile for the ponderous chains of life set to a skipping needle. It's definitely an avenue of oscillated measure, rich with aromatic Middle Eastern fusions of sensual stringency exploding with surrealistic buzz-bombs crafted with twentieth-century precision. Lean and yet plush, engrossing, disturbing, but all without harming any actual human beings. Regrets abound at murdering the void in this way—anger out of place, anguish too primed for such a space; ...more
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful things about this book is how difficult it is to "categorize" it. Where in that mental shelf that I strive so hard to keep orderly can I place this? When I read it, it was like floating devoid of solid references, falling through literary space unable to hold on to anything I read before. The Blind Owl: this not knowing what peg to hang this book. It's scary while reading not knowing exactly what you are reading but only if you resist the urge to let go and let the book ...more
I think I'm going to leave this unrated. I can't say I liked it, but, eventually I had to keep reading to see how it could possibly conclude - and it didn't conclude, really. It just stopped. A surreal tale of obsession, madness, opium induced perceptions, the strangeness of old relationships, dancing, poisoned wine, cobras, abandonment, old age, futility, love, hate and many, many other ideas and things. There are a few ideas about this book that arise from its being banned in Iran. One being ...more
Nate D
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dream-myths of addiction and escape
Recommended to Nate D by: Knig-o-lass and the coughs of abattoir horses
Obsession, delerium, disintegration. Repetition and narrative instability. Empty temples, tombs, secret poisons. Desire tuned towards death and vice versa. Basically, somehow, the entire template for 70s-Robbe-Grillet, and by extension, some of Dennis Cooper's The Marbled Swarm, spontaneously arisen from 1930s Iran. If the narrator (narrators?) has a desperately problematic relationship to the women in his life -- exalting or loathing without any human middle ground, only tending towards ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Due to my obsession with owls and having previously dated a Persian man; I am familiar with the connotation of owls in Iranian culture. Hearing that Sadegh Hedayat, the author of “The Blind Owl”, lived in Iran and then committed suicide at age 48, was enough to draw me in.

“The Blind Owl” has a magnetic draw starting with the first word. Following a stream of consciousness style (don’t expect dialogue, character names, etc); Hedayat pulls the reader in full-force with heavy literary, symbolical,
Ina Cawl
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fallowing mentally ill pen decorator with opium hallucination as he falls to abyss
this was book was linked to many suicide cases in Iran
longer review to come
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A tortured psyche disintegrating in a self-created maze of mirrors. A devious novel full of sinister doubles and disorienting narrative multiples. A complex kaleidoscopic image is probably the best analogy, as the same half-dozen or so elements are shifted and reflected into successive patterns that are diverse but all variations on the same theme. Powerful and unsettling stuff. I don't buy the intricate Eastern mysticism interpretation provided on one website; it is what it is. A masterful ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bitch-please
[1] Picked up The Blind Owl

[2] Read a few pages of overcooked waffle about a woman with 'magic eyes'*

[3] Threw the book away from myself in disgust

*I opened the book at random just now. On one page:

'magic eyes',
'shining eyes'
'Turkoman eyes'

oh, and...

'vague smile'
'harmonious grace'
'inconceivable force'
'pale as the moon'
'intoxicating radiance'

And a fucking mono-brow.
Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I didn't 'love' this novel, I didn't 'enjoy' it either. To be honest I can't find a word to explain how I feel about this book! I'm not even quite sure how to rate this book. I just know that 'the blind owl' is a book I will remember forever.
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I think I was baffled by some of this but carried away by its visionary madness.
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Sadegh Hedayat’s “The Blind Owl” is considered a classic in Iranian fiction. I confess to an immediate sympathy for any book whose author felt compelled to print outside his country. And it remains on the forbidden list in Hedayat’s native Iran. In the introduction to the version I came across, Porochista Khakpour argues that the Persian literary tradition did not discover novels until the beginning of the last century, and that, even once introduced, they were limited to historical themes. So ...more
Abeer Abdullah
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, iran
As is the case with a lot of well written emotionally driven, individualistic, (tortured) first person narrative literature, this felt like you were living inside the narrators body. It strangely reminded me at first of Dostoyevsky's Notes From The Underground, and then it reminded me of Kafka's Metamorphosis, and lastly it reminded me of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Iylch, and really, the common factor between all four works is the overwhelming, pressed sense of isolation. The blind Owl, ...more
Jeff Jackson
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This classic Iranian novel - with its obsessive repetitions, constant recycling of a few key images, and reshuffling plotline and characters - was clearly a major influence on Alain Robbe-Grillet. And although Robbe-Grillet refined these narrative techniques and deployed them more elegantly, the velocity and compression of Hedayat's storytelling in "The Blind Owl" remains unsurpassed. I read this for a book club and it was remarkable how thoroughly the novel unraveled itself as we dissected it - ...more
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If pressed, I think I would most often pick the Blind Owl as my favourite book I've ever read more often than anything else. Such grand statements are naturally subject to change, and when trying to select a book that you consider as the very best one ever, you reach beyond the normal parameters of judgement. The Blind Owl was perhaps one of the most draining books I've ever read, it lasted me only a couple of days (I'd make an educated guess that it's not much more than 50-55,000 words long), ...more
Ben Loory
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
i love the line in the book description: "replete with potent symbolism." cuz, yeah.

i don't know. it's good. it's really smooth and vivid and strange... doesn't really feel like much to me though, other than a one-note kinda ongoing DREAD. which is fine. kept hoping it would somehow burst into something more, but it never did. almost, but not quite. sure has some amazing moments in it, though. the scene with the cobra especially.

I am obliged to set all this down on paper in order to disentangle
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
My ongoing attempt to read all 200 books spotlighted in James & Newman's two excellent overview volumes, "Horror: 100 Best Books" and "Horror: Another 100 Best Books," has led me to some fairly unusual finds. Case in point: Sadegh Hedayat's "The Blind Owl," which is--or so claims the Grove Press edition currently in print--"the most important work of modern Iranian literature." Originally published in Bombay in 1937 under the Persian title "Buf-i Kur," it first appeared in Tehran four years ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had the memories of a kind of oriental tale under acid. An hallucinate account. Hedayat, the heir to a dynasty of Persans men of letters, come to commit suicide in Paris. José Corti published it in French in 1953 at the same time as the Gracq « rivage des Syrtes » (another oriental tale). A sign. Hedayat, enigmatic and attractive character. At this time, there was not Internet, that remained a secret, cult book for some aesthetes.
And then I read « Boussoles » the book of Enard (Goncourt Prize
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Iranian author who introduced modernist techniques into Persian fiction. He is considered one of the greatest Iranian writers of the 20th century.

هدایت از پیشگامان داستاننویسی نوین ایران و یک روشنفکر برجسته بود. برترین اثر وی رمان بوف کور است که آن را مشهورترین و درخشانترین اثر ادبیات داستانی معاصر ایران دانستهاند. حجم آثار و مقالات نوشته شده درباره نوشتهها، نوع زندگی و خودکشی صادق هدایت بیانگر
“زندگی من مثل یک شمع آب می شود، نه اشتباه می کنم-مثل یک کنده ی هیزم تر است که گوشه ی دیگدان افتاده و به آتش هیزم های دیگر برشته و زغال شده، ولی نه سوخته و نه تر و تازه مانده، فقط از دود و دم دیگران خفه شده” 67 likes
“I write only for my shadow which is cast on the wall in front of the light. I must introduce myself to it.” 55 likes
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