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The Blind Owl by Ṣādiq Hidāyat

The Blind Owl (1937)

by Ṣādiq Hidāyat

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6852420,028 (3.84)1 / 118

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English (21)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
a very special novel, dark, gloomy, depressing. The author, not the most joyful person it seems, uses opium but the reader only needs his writing to reach a trance. Don't kill yourself after reading this, seems to be the recommendation to give. ( )
  Lunarreader | Mar 3, 2018 |
This is an extremely important work of Iranian fiction, written in the 1930s. It was chosen by someone in one of the book clubs I participate in. According to the introduction, it is so shocking that there are rumors that it led to people dying by suicide.

The book tells two versions of the same story – both told from the main character’s perspective. He is an artist who is either solitary or lives with his wife (depending on the telling). One version is a bit more supernatural-feeling than the other, both heavily feature sadness, loneliness, and darkness.

I missed something in this book. I didn’t get it, and that is why I didn’t give it a ranking. I feel like it’s just not something I can wrap my head around, because I can’t wrap my head around the book. It obviously is full of symbolism that I don’t get because I don’t have the shared culture that might be necessary to truly pick up on the nuance of the storytelling. I’m not even entirely clear on the purpose of the book. Perhaps is an allegory of death? I don’t know.

The author’s style keeps me from really getting into the book – the writing is fine, but it’s also a translation to English, so it comes across as fairly plain and also repetitive. There is (according to Wikipedia, which I visited immediately upon completion) a reason for this, and an art to it, but again I think a whole lot has been lost in translation.

Mostly reading this book made me angry that I a) can’t read all the languages and b) don’t understand or even have a basic understanding of the vast majority of cultures in the world.

So yay for that? ( )
  ASKelmore | Jul 9, 2017 |

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 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. I was warned by Porochista Khakpour in his preface to The Blind Owl. And now you’ve been warned.

( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Is this the story of a mentally ill man? Or a description of his opium-fueled dreams? It is not clear--he certainly loves his opium, but whether he is mentally ill, physically ill (coughing blood, or is this from the opium smoking?), or high is unclear.

Too violent for me (even if it is all dreams). His wife is "the bitch" (and also his first cousin), which is tiring to read over and over. Creepy, like a bad dream. ( )
  Dreesie | Aug 23, 2016 |
Book Description The story is narrated by a young man, a painter of miniatures, whose name is never given. He feels an overbearing need to recount an experience he went through that has shattered his whole existence. A beautiful woman, an old man and a cypress tree are the recurring motifs.

My Review Known as the modern Persian Classic, this book is a nightmare from the beginning to the end and is not for the emotional unstable. It is a hallucinogenic trip triggered by opium use and a serious mental condition of the narrator. It was banned in Iran because it had been known to make its readers suicidal. The author committed suicide at age 48 by gassing himself to death. My 4 star rating is not because I enjoyed the book but because of the experience evoked while reading this book. It is filled with metaphor, symbolism and very beautiful prose. The author wanted the book to be the experience and not a book about an experience. It is just that - a book that takes you to the narrator's decomposed soul and the darkness of his heart. If you like the works of Edgar Allen Poe then I would recommend this book for you. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
A tale of one man’s isolation, the novel contains a maze of symbols, recurring images, social commentary, allusions to opium-induced states, contemplations of the human condition, interjections on art, and references to literary and religious texts—all of which have, for decades, made it fertile ground for critical interpretation.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ṣādiq Hidāyatprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hamelink, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Gert J.J. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In life there are certain sores that, like a canker, gnaw at the soul in solitude and diminish it.
(trans. Iraj Bashiri)
There are sores which slowly erode the mind in solitude like a kind of canker.
(trans. D. P. Costello)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802131808, Paperback)

Considered one of the most important works 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. As the narrator gradually drifts into madness, the reader becomes caught in the sandstorm of Hedayat's bleak vision of the human condition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young man, distraught over the loss of a mysterious lover, begins a slow decline into madness.

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