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Blind Owl (1937)

by Sadegh Hedayat

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,1733917,141 (3.8)1 / 147
A new English translation of arguably the most famous twentieth-century Persian novel A Penguin Classic A new English translation of one of the most important, controversial Iranian novels of the twentieth century A Penguin Classic Written by one of the greatest Iranian writers of the twentieth century, Blind Owl tells a two-part story of an isolated narrator with a fragile relationship with time and reality. In first person, the narrator offers a string of hazy, dreamlike recollections fueled by opium and alcohol. He spends time painting the exact same scene on the covers of pen cases- an old man wearing a cape and turban sitting under a cypress tree, separated by a small stream from a beautiful woman in black who offers him a water lily. In a one-page transition, the reader finds the narrator covered in blood and waiting for the police to arrest him. In part two, readers glimpse the grim realities that unlock the mysteries of the first part. In a new translation that reflects Hedayat's conversational, confessional tone, Blind Owl joins the ranks of classics by Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky that explore the dark recesses of the human psyche.… (more)
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 The Chapel of the Abyss: The Blind Owl80 unread / 80Randy_Hierodule, July 2018

» See also 147 mentions

English (33)  Dutch (4)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Interesting. A bloody, opium fever dream of a book about a man that murders his wife whom he only calls “the bitch.” Pretty unpleasant stuff. Not my cup of tea.
  BookyMaven | Feb 8, 2024 |
This is a fever-dream of a dark, compelling novel, and a reading experience that sucks one in until each moment is its own small psychological impact. A novel that was banned in Hedayat's home country of Iran, the work mounts gorgeous prose, a poetic sensibility, and a sometimes-style of repetition that makes one feel as if they're being sucked into a whirlpool of a story. It's a novel to be sucked into and experience...and perhaps to be read more than once if the darkness isn't too much.

Recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jan 21, 2024 |
I feel bad for rating this book only 3 stars. I feel it's because I'm too stupid for it or maybe just that I'm in the wrong sort of mood to enjoy it. The first half-ish of the book was good but when it changes perspective and you have to read the guy calling his wife "the bitch" over and over it gets really grating. Like I found the constant stuff about him being literally dead and everyone else being terrible rabble very repetitive, overwrought and not even vaguely interesting. At the same time I really liked the repetitive symbols like the geometric houses and stub end of cucumber taste because they enhanced the dream-like sense which the best parts of the novel contain, the sense of endless repetition and falling, an eternal hell. It's hard to fit the two parts of the novel together and see the connections while the repetitive symbols are pretty intriguing and create interesting ideas and impressions in my head. The best part is the part around the halfwayish point where he goes and buries the cut up body in the strange place. I just felt it went on too long without really saying much more. I liked the open endedness and suggestions of something more but without ever explaining it. I feel it'd be super interesting to interpret if I put the effort in to like take notes, cross reference etc which would also cut out the stuff I don't like so much heh. I don't know I realise I probably missed a lot and wasn't reading it well enough or whatever ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
You won't find a darker novel than this, and scarcely one better written. It's strange and fascinating to realize that this work boasts best modern classic status in Iranian literature, despite having initially been suppressed there as a potential suicide threat to teenagers. It's encouraging to me that a modern culture exists in which such a gruesomely powerful brief for Death could finally be not only legitimized, but uniquely celebrated, for its literary merit. ( )
1 vote Cr00 | Apr 1, 2023 |
Man kann nicht davon lassen, aber richtig verstehen, tat ich es auch nicht. Das Nachwort war hilfreich. Wer gerne mehr über nahezu zeitgenössische Literatur des Irans lernen möchte, ist hier gut aufgehoben. ( )
  iffland | Mar 19, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (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 (49 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hedayat, Sadeghprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
D. P. CostelloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hamelink, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santamaria, LeonardoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tabatabai, SassanTranslatorsecondary 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)
In life there are wounds that like termites, slowly bore into and eat away at the isolated soul.
(trans. Sassan Tababatai
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A new English translation of arguably the most famous twentieth-century Persian novel A Penguin Classic A new English translation of one of the most important, controversial Iranian novels of the twentieth century A Penguin Classic Written by one of the greatest Iranian writers of the twentieth century, Blind Owl tells a two-part story of an isolated narrator with a fragile relationship with time and reality. In first person, the narrator offers a string of hazy, dreamlike recollections fueled by opium and alcohol. He spends time painting the exact same scene on the covers of pen cases- an old man wearing a cape and turban sitting under a cypress tree, separated by a small stream from a beautiful woman in black who offers him a water lily. In a one-page transition, the reader finds the narrator covered in blood and waiting for the police to arrest him. In part two, readers glimpse the grim realities that unlock the mysteries of the first part. In a new translation that reflects Hedayat's conversational, confessional tone, Blind Owl joins the ranks of classics by Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky that explore the dark recesses of the human psyche.

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