Blind Owl - Sadeq Hedayat

Penguin Classics


Blind Owl by Sadeq Hedayat / ISBN 9780143136583 / 112-page paperback from Penguin


A new English translation of one of the most important, controversial Iranian novels of the twentieth century

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.

“The eerie, phantasmal Blind Owl . . . possesses the fully dimensional oddness of a vivid dream, which one can mine for interpretations, analyze for influences or simply submit to.” —Sam Sacks

Sadegh Hedayat was born in Tehran in 1903 and is considered one of the most important Iranian prose writers of the twentieth century. He is celebrated as the father of modernist Persian literature and is credited with bringing modern Persian literature onto the international scene. Although born into a prominent aristocratic family, Hedayat’s writings display an obsession with characters who populate the fringes of society—the base and the marginalized. In 1936, while living in Bombay, he published his most famous work, Blind Owl, as a hand-written volume with original illustrations. Hedayat took his own life in Paris in 1951. Despite his short literary life, Hedayat was a prolific writer and leaves behind a copious body of work.

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