The Blind Owl

KeskusteluThe Chapel of the Abyss

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The Blind Owl

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Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 2013, 5:03 pm

They shall be told. Ere Babylon was dust,
The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,
Met his own image walking in the garden.
That apparition, sole of men, he saw.
For know there are two worlds of life and death:
One that which thou beholdest; but the other
Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit
The shadows of all forms that think and live
Till death unite them and they part no more

- Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Prometheus Unbound

“Will anyone ever penetrate the secret of this disease which transcends ordinary experience, this reverberation of the shadow of the mind, which manifests itself in a state of coma like that between death and resurrection, when one is neither asleep nor awake?”

- The Blind Owl

Few books have affected me, or have had the power to attract and repulse me, as has Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl. It has recorded that portion of horror and loss, estrangement and grief beyond tears, found in accounts of schizophrenic cases and in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is a sustained hallucination. Like Julien Gracq’s Chateau d’Argol, The Blind Owl is more a grimoire than a novel – dark and cankered, a terrible gnostic text found in some waste place in a canopic jar.

It begins with the protest and the unraveling of identity:
“There are sores which slowly erode the mind in solitude like a kind of canker.”

“If I have made up my mind to write it is only in order to reveal myself to my shadow, that shadow which at this moment is stretched across the wall in the attitude of one devouring with insatiable appetite each word I write.”

A young man who designs pencases – always with the scene of a young girl offering flowers to old man in the garb of an Indian mendicant, sitting on the other side of a stream - is alone in his silent house. One evening his uncle, in the dress of an Indian mendicant, comes to visit and, wanting to show some hospitality, he remembers he has a bottle of wine up on a shelf that his mother gave him as a gift when he was born. He climbs on a stool to get the wine and sees, through a chink in the wall up there, the same scene played out in the landscape outside that he has been engraving on his pen sets. He pursues and encounters the enigmatic girl and the old man throughout the novel. The old man becomes a butcher, a hearse driver, his father, his uncle, his wife's partner in adultery – and himself. He occurs as both victim and murderer, youth and aged corpse, crawling with maggots. The girl reappears as his mother, his sister, his nurse and the triune eternal female: sister-wife-whore (he refers to her throughout the narrative as “the whore”.) Her kiss, greatly desired, when received, “is bitter, like the stub end of a cucumber.”

“I was not in full control of myself, and it seemed that I knew her name from before. The evil in her eyes, her color, her scent and her movements were all familiar to me. It was as though my souls, in the life before this, in the world of imagination, had bordered on her soul and that both souls, of the same essence and substance, were destined for union.”

The wine is a sort of solvent – breaking down the ego and promoting convivial or communal being (as in the frequent and minatory appearances of the group of drunken policemen he hears out in the street from his sickbed singing “Let us drink the wine of the city of Rey. If we do not drink now, when shall we drink?”) – or it is a route to pure annihilation (at one point he says that it is cobra venom that his mother, a priestess in a Hindu snake cult, put aside for him on the day of his birth).

Mother Kali Durga, the milk of her black breasts, like wine, truly intoxicates:

"Anyway, why was this woman so very fond of me? Why did she think of herself as the companion of my sufferings? All that she had done was to thrust her bucket-like, black, wrinkled nipples into my mouth for pay. I wished her breasts were struck by leprosy. Now, looking at her breasts, I am nauseated even to think of having sucked the sap of her life through those breasts and that our body temperatures met and became one.”


“This was the same creature that had poisoned my entire life; or maybe my life was originally susceptible to being poisoned, and I could not have had any life beside a poisoned life. Now here in my room she gave me her body and her shadow.”

These stalking policemen, who constantly patrol the street below the narrator's darkened lodge, sing the praises of the wine of the city of Rey (Rhages). Re is also the name of the pharonic sun god who descends each night into the region of the Tuat and must mask his identity to elude the bestial archons who patrol the city of the dead. And Heliopolis - city of Re - is the place of resurrection. In the Bardo, the dead spend a period of about thirty or forty days, comforted and harrowed by peaceful and wrathful deities while awaiting reincarnation.

That canker eroding the mind suggested not only of Maupassant’s and Vrubel’s ravenous ulcer (that, in devouring life, psychic and physic, gave gorgeous flesh to their respective demons), but something closer to home: the gnawing away of the umbilicus attaching the “soul” to the embodied-persona, to its history and its fate. The mind, in the dark, alone with itself, telling a story to itself. But the repetitive recitations are always punctuated by uncanny laughter. The Shadow on the wall of The Blind Owl (like the khaibit in the pharonic tomb) is not a passive witness. It knows him where he is, and it is just that the narrator, in his terror, cannot see. The old man, like the khaibit-shadow, is not confined to time or space, and reappears at every turn in the story, and emits “a dry and repulsive laughter, a hybrid mocking laughter, which made one's hair stand on end” - as though to say "how long do you think you can stick to your story?" His story, which is his desire to know himself, so deadly serious, is shown to have no more substance than a dream.

It is superstition that owls cannot see in the light, that they can function only in the dark, where they see everything, like that other infamously ominous bird:

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

(It is curious that Pallas Athena, who stood by Odysseus in his trials, was known as "glaukopis": bright-eyed, or "owl-eyed". Even in darkness, she sees and is awake to the decisive moment. She is often associated with the owl).

There is much in The Blind Owl that puts it in company with the work of Edgar Alan Poe - the overwhelming gothic, funereal flair of worms, blood, graveyards, and corpses and terror. Unrelenting terror.

But in The Blind Owl, it is that fear is connate with and spawned by lust, sexual desire (rarely, if ever, found in Poe) and defines that “in between” lacuna of madness, of comatose space, that dream-time before incarnation or after death - which clinical history, if not the silent dead, has witnessed to be as real as this so-called human life, rudely born of dust or a clot, and in any event spat red and screaming, forth by day, out of the carnal abyss. What is to be known in this endlessly dissolving and resolving theatre of cosmic psychosis?

This book is corrosive and disturbing because it seems to say that the feared apocalypse is a sort of satire, an immanent and negating laughter, like the “neti, neti” of the Upanishads. It rings out against everything we think we are and everything we think we possess. In the onslaught of it, we must become buddhas or tragically mad.

Iraj Bashiri, one of the two English translators of this book, comments that "The translation and the analysis of the works of Sadeq Hedayat occupied me for over ten years. That was some twenty years ago. It is wonderful that Time heals what Times bring us. Otherwise, life itself would become the burden Hedayat speaks about. Hedayat's is a dark world when you are in it. It haunts you for some time after you leave it. But eventually, it leaves you alone, if you leave it alone."

One of Hedayat's probable source books, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, admonishes the reader "Improvident art thou in dissipating thy great opportunity; Mistaken, indeed, will thy purpose be now if thou returnest empty-handed from this life."

Hedayat, disgusted with the world, took his life not long after the publication of The Blind Owl.

tammikuu 9, 2009, 11:22 am

His only book and he committed suicide shortly
after, if I remember correctly. The sense of impending disaster is palpable.

tammikuu 9, 2009, 11:36 am

There are a few other things... short stories - I think maybe another novella? And yes, he lived most of his life in Iran, then went off to Paris and death. The whole book, from beginning to end is impending disaster; it's really uncomfortable to read.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2009, 12:14 pm

Ben, you have touched upon one of my favorite books. Thanks for an appreciation of a signal work in hallucinatory literature.

There is an excellent critical anthology of this book entitled Hedayat's 'The Blind Owl': Forty Years After, which touch upon the Central Asian (Buddhist and Hindu, particularly) imagery in the novel. This study also contains translations of "Buried Alive" (another Poe allusion?) and "Three Drops of Blood", which I must now of course re-read.

I'm sure I've mentioned before that my feeling is that, for an author to have published such a perfect work as The Blind Owl, there must follow some deep sense of despair. How can one improve on perfection?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2009, 12:37 pm

Thanks for that - I will wait and see if an affordable copy pops up.

The link below might answer your question better than I can. I have read The Blind Owl twice now and again I feel like I would have been better off "leaving it alone". Hedayat seemed the logical place to go after I finished with David Park Barnitz's Book of Jade (both authors often reiterated their despair and exhaustion with life and everything in it)... and it led me back to read a book I have skimmed throughout my life, the Bardo, which, unlike other religious tracts I have periodically skimmed, is powerfully disturbing. Moreso now that I am no longer in the date I inscribed in the book when I bought it: 1981.

Any way, it was while searching on possible links between the various books of the dead and Hedayat's book that I found this:

tammikuu 9, 2009, 1:49 pm

Moreso now that I am no longer in the date I inscribed in the book when I bought it: 1981.

I hear ya, brother. I bought a new suit recently and calculated that, given the frequency with which I purchase such attire, it is likely to be the one they will bury me in.

Thanks for the link.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2009, 1:59 pm

By the way, is the Evans-Wentz version your perferred text? I also have the Francesca Fremantle(with Chogyam Trungpa) translation*, but have never gotten around to comparing the two.

You have finally convinced me to seek out the Barnitz.

*touchstones are giving me fits, for some reason...

tammikuu 9, 2009, 2:08 pm

I have stuck with the Evans-Wentz. I have a more recent translation as well, supposedly fuller and truer, but it is just appallingly devout, by some crunchy granola anglo, political heart-on-sleeve type (the obligatory rant against China, etc. All well received in its place, but not here) and alt-rock low-brow renderings such as "hey, noble one!" to Evans-Wentz's (Dawa Dandup's), "O nobly born, " etc.

I do have my eye on another very recent translation - can't recall by whom.

And I think the last suit I bought came with a couple of breasts and waistcoat....

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2009, 2:13 pm

"Hey, Noble One!"

Is this the Abbott and Costello translation?

I didn't get "breasts" with my suit. They referred me to the Alterations Dept....

tammikuu 9, 2009, 2:12 pm

Hey abbot, or yo, Llama - something like that, yes.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2009, 2:52 pm

Back on topic (sort of), my friend Existani alerted me to the existence of The Five-and-Twenty Tales of the Genie, a collection of stories involving a genie who inhabits a corpse, and who is recruited by a king to assist in the defeat of a necromancer. The king stores the corpse in a sinsipa tree (whatever that is), and periodically takes it down and walks with it while it tells him enlightening "tales".

I haven't read it yet, but here is a sample:

Walking up to the sinsipa tree, the king climbed it, cut the rope by which the corpse was hanging and let the body fall to the ground. What was this corpse like?

Dark blue as a rain cloud
the hair on its head standing erect
goggle-eyed, no trace of flesh on its frame,
marked with the signs of a ghost,
it was a horrid sight.

This selection brings to mind another favorite novel wherein corpses play a significant part, The Manuscript Found at Saragossa*, in which the protagonist finds himself waking up next to the corpses of the bandit brothers with amusing frequency.

*I'm giving up on touchstones.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 11, 2009, 8:47 am

Thank you and exitanai very much for that reference. I just grabbed a copy.

tammikuu 9, 2009, 3:39 pm

You're welcome, although I find to my chagrin that I spelled Existanai's name wrong! I knew that didn't look right...

tammikuu 9, 2009, 6:46 pm

Oi. So did I. But I'm too slack to correct it....

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2009, 8:51 pm

Start praying, scumbags!

You know, you guys are much too nice. I wouldn't even have known about the misspelling, or cared much if I did, since it's just an ID and not my real name ... that's until I encountered Ben's lack of respect.

Anyway. Deviating from The Blind Owl to touch on the other two titles. The "first complete translation" of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, apparently definitive (though I have no expertise in the matter and put my naive faith in blurbs and reviews) is by Gyurme Dorje, edited by Graham Coleman and Thupten Jinpa; it's been published by Viking/Penguin in various "deluxe editions" and has recently found its way, rather quickly since the first edition in 2006, into the Penguin Classics series, though it seems the latter edition is only available outside the US. Try the following ISBNs: 0670858862 (Viking hardcover), 0143104942 (Penguin Classics Deluxe softcover), 0140455299 (also Deluxe softcover, but different cover/binding) and for the UK/Canada/etc., 0140455264 (traditional black Penguin Classics softcover.) No alt-rock low-brow renderings here. This trio is more the scholarly heavyweight type.

As for The Five and Twenty Tales, I first passed by the book in a second-hand store and started reading up about it later, online, when I realized they were the original version of a series of myths/stories I used to love reading as a child, in India. So I had to have it. It brought back some fond memories - I remember curling up with latest editions of a children's magazine called Chandamama at my grandparents' - we didn't get it at home; in fact, the story was in a sense the foundation of the magazine and the source of the unchanging, grim cover illustration. The Wikipedia article tells me the magazine has now been bought up by some tech company. They have a somewhat unreadable website too, here, and the Vikramaditya tales can be read there, if you want some samples.

I wouldn't have found out any of the latter if Makifat hadn't made a typo. So I guess there is some perverse order to the universe.

tammikuu 10, 2009, 1:08 am

Heh. That's me - an agent of perversity.

tammikuu 10, 2009, 10:11 am

Bitter. I did say thank you... that should count for something?

tammikuu 10, 2009, 3:52 pm

I'm just trying to exploit the situation - I'll settle with both of you by getting my choice of one book from each of your libraries. ...Evil laugh...

Even though I haven't read most of my library, I always fumble when someone I can't refuse asks to borrow or take a book, hoping that my extreme hesitation and obvious reluctance will drop a hint.

tammikuu 10, 2009, 5:15 pm

I'm a very generous fellow. I usually give them a head start before I release the hounds.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 10, 2009, 8:34 pm

I wouldn't try that - I'd be terrified the book might drop and end up getting bumped, bent or heavily creased. Not to mention the hounds might sink their teeth into the book's covers while bringing it back to the rightful owner.

tammikuu 11, 2009, 8:55 am

I have loaned books before. I am fairly certain my friends feel the weight of my astral body hovering, given the much-appreciated but unprompted speed with which they return them.

I just can't imagine borrowing a book - and I think some times I must radiate that impression. My phone, you know, seldom rings.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2009, 4:17 pm

More information on Sadeq Hedayat:

tammikuu 22, 2009, 8:06 pm

Oh my god! I just saw the pic! Short Stories by Sadegh Hedayat! I am off to abebooks right now. Then I'm coming back to check out that link. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 23, 2009, 2:03 pm

I have high hopes for it, though I have not yet read it. This one, however, I have - and if you liked the The Blind Owl, you should track down a copy: The Blind Owl, and Other Hedayat Stories. I think copies are available for less than $10 on abe and amazon. The BO in this collection is Iraj Bashiri's translation.

Hmm - even going into edit mode doesn't jump start the touchstone.

kesäkuu 1, 2010, 2:05 pm

I suspect Hedayat was assassinated by the Iranian state. Probably, no way to know now. His "suicide"
was convenient. Not much has changed.

kesäkuu 1, 2010, 2:10 pm

re 26: Details, please.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 2010, 2:10 pm

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 2010, 2:35 pm

Thanks for linking these, ben. Always glad to read more about one of my favorite books...

Honestly, I'd be shocked (and disappointed) if Hedayat hadn't committed suicide.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 2010, 3:48 pm

I get a broken link. ? Is this the Iraj Bashiri site?
I have text from the old link (this one?), if anyone is interested. Hate to disappoint you Maki, but Sadegh wasn't popular with the Pahlavi regime.

"Certain facts suggest that Hedayat had been an obstacle to the Pahlavi regime. And this despite his moralistic views opposing an actively political stand. But Hedayat had openly criticized foreign intervention in Iranian affairs, and he had criticized both the regime and those factions in Iran that condoned the protection of foreign interest. In that the regime prevented its malaise about Hedayat's works from filtering down to Hedayat's readers, it could also cloak any measures it wished to take to punish the writer. The Iranians having read and heard the official reception of Hedayat's works could hardly doubt the veracity of an allegation of suicide."
By Iraj Bashiri

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 2010, 3:49 pm

There is a febrile review on the web that starts off warning potential readers they might commit suicide... like A.A. Alvarez and his viral theory of suicide (well, sort of).

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 2010, 4:08 pm

re 30: The "main page" portion appears to be ill-tended. Everything else linked on the site is fit (see menu to the left on that page) - including a few Hedayat paintings I've rustled for our future delectation.

Hard to believe the shah would pursue the poor depressed man to Paris, but Pahlavi was not a very nice man. Hedayat's works are, I believe, still supressed in Iran. :

Hedayat on Facebook, dear god:!/pages/Sadegh-Heda...

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 2010, 4:24 pm

Re: Alvarez, see The Savage God.

Re: Hedayat on Facebook. There is something about modern sensibilities that perverts good things into excrement.

kesäkuu 1, 2010, 5:32 pm

Many thanks for these fascinating and informative links.

Hedayat on Facebook? Maybe it will start a suicide epidemic.

kesäkuu 10, 2010, 6:17 pm

Just wondering if anyone has read Three Drops of Blood by Hedayat? If so, how does it compare to The Blind Owl?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 2, 2010, 4:04 pm

I read 3 drops but I haven't read Blind Owl. The best stories in 3 drops were really good. None were bad. Also, if I recall correctly, they are in chronological order according to when they were written so you see some development of storytelling power and disintegration of author as you go. Its worth picking up. The foreword was interesting, too. I bet you can read that in an Amazon or Google preview.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 2, 2010, 5:21 pm

I finished Three Drops of Blood a while ago. The title stories (3 Drops, Buried Alive and Stray Dog) are memorable. Buried Alive is especially interesting. The feverish madness reminds me of Dostoyevsky or, maybe, Poe.

elokuu 2, 2010, 6:53 pm

The Blind Owl and Malpertuis are two novels of psychic horror that stick with you like a barium swallow. I will re-read them, and their sources, over and over again until that last moment which seems nearly always already here. :-)

elokuu 2, 2010, 7:00 pm

Malpertuis. Master Ben, your font of knowledge is astounding. One more for the wish-list.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 3, 2010, 7:59 pm

Dear sir, you will not be disappointed (I hope).


"My heart is in Malpertuis ... a stone among the stones ...".

elokuu 3, 2010, 7:28 pm

I just reserved "The Blind Owl" through my library. I'm anxiously awaiting it!

heinäkuu 10, 2011, 11:57 am

Another Hedayat link; biographical information:

heinäkuu 11, 2011, 11:35 am

Interesting article. Strange how no one mentions Kafka and Poe as influences on H.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 11, 2011, 12:27 pm

In Sadeq Hedayat: The Life and Legend of an Iranian Writer, Homa Katouzian makes a brief reference to both Poe and Kafka (etc.) in that regard. There may be traces of such influence (it is appropriate to assume Hedayat was well acquainted with western literature), but Hedayat had immersed himself in classical Persian and Arab literature as well as Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Islamic and ancient Egyptian religion (I haven't done any real research on either Poe or Kafka, but with Poe, I don't recall much sense of the mythic or any obvious religious infuence. Kafka's fictions, however, could be considered Kabbalistic texts (I hope my "K" spelling accords with the MOMS (Modern Occultist Manual of Style ;).

The descent into madness (or into posthumous nothingness) in The Blind Owl resembles rite of passage and descent into the underworld themes in many mythologies. Another book that comes to mind, when I think on this, is Doris Lessing's Briefing for a Descent into Hell, which bears the influence of Sufi and Manichean thought as well as R. D. Laing's writings on sanity (unity) and schizophrenia (division).

syyskuu 12, 2011, 5:50 pm

Talking with a Shadow: An Iranian film on the life of Sadeq Hedayat:

huhtikuu 4, 2012, 3:21 pm

I don't think I have provided this link before; it has a few things of interest, including paintings by the author and some translations:

huhtikuu 4, 2012, 4:12 pm

This page can't be open Mr. Waugh.

huhtikuu 4, 2012, 4:19 pm

Thank you for providing the '' page. Very interesting works on it. Always nice to be reminded of the details in Persian art.

huhtikuu 5, 2012, 1:52 pm

Always nice to be reminded of the one of the quintessentials in life (literature?) as well. Bienvenue à nouveau!

huhtikuu 5, 2012, 2:47 pm

Je vous remercie. I don't know if the quintessential (pleasures) in life are many or are they really that scarce.

huhtikuu 5, 2012, 2:56 pm


elokuu 27, 2012, 5:42 pm

Interested to discover that The Blind Owl was filmed by Raul Ruiz in 1990. Anyone seen it?

elokuu 27, 2012, 9:12 pm

Beware: Write about "Blind Owl" at your own risk. I can think of a few Blind Owl suicides.

elokuu 27, 2012, 10:06 pm

Really? Details, please - but only if you dare!

elokuu 28, 2012, 1:04 am

Tom Evans and Pete Ham!

elokuu 28, 2012, 8:58 am

That is curious.

tammikuu 12, 2013, 4:06 pm

I feel like i've entered a new realm here, have not yet read this thread but i will when i get the chance... where have you been hiding ?
I own two firsts of The Blind Owl, i relish looking further into this group, you've made my day.

tammikuu 12, 2013, 5:12 pm

Welcome, S, etc. And let me know if you'd like to trade off one of those firsts!

tammikuu 12, 2013, 5:55 pm

57. Greetings. Are both copies the 1957 UK edition published by John Calder or the 1957 Grove Press limited edition of 100 copies or do you have one of each?

I hope you will catalogue your books.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2013, 1:53 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2013, 1:46 pm

Trying to stick a photo of the books here from iPhoto, copy and paste just leaves a string of words and numbers ! does anyone know how it's done ?
Not as exciting as i'd remembered... i have a 1957 UK first and a reprint from the seventies which i remember buying just because there are so few hardback copies in any edition, this is one of those books for me, like Meyrink's Golem, which transcends words, and the appeal of which is largely due to my interest in the author.

tammikuu 13, 2013, 4:16 pm

There is a new translation which claims to be the first by a native Persian who is fluent in English. It is not, but is worth looking into.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 2013, 5:18 am

Thank you for this nudge. I cannot find much info on Noori, which is perplexing.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 2013, 4:55 am

>61 Sam.and.his.Pangolin:: You'll have to use html : IMG SRC="".

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 2013, 12:00 pm


tammikuu 14, 2013, 9:13 am

I'd recommend grabbing the Iraj Bashiri translation. It's better than Costello's and the translator is traceable.

tammikuu 14, 2013, 2:33 pm

I don't mean to pan this new translation, - I haven't even read it yet - but though it claims to be definitive (from the "Bombay edition". I should find out about this, and if it was what Bashiri based his translation upon), based upon brief glances into all three, it doesn't seem to read as well as its predecessors.

Here is the opening paragraph from the new translation, by Naveed Noori:

In life there are wounds that, like leprosy, silently scrape at and consume the soul, in solitude—This agony can not be revealed to anyone, because they generally tend to group this incomprehensible suffering with strange and otherwise rare events, and if one speaks or writes about it, then people, by way of popular perception and their own beliefs, receive it with a doubtful and mocking smile—because man has still found no cure for this and the only available medicine is amnesia by means of wine and artificial sleep brought on by opium and other narcotics.—But alas, the effects of these medicines are at best temporary and, instead of providing relief, after a while only add to the intensity of the pain.

Iraj Bashiri:

In life there are certain sores that, like a canker, gnaw at the soul in solitude and diminish it. Since generally it is the custom to relegate these incredible sufferings to the realm of rare and singular accidents and happenings, it is not possible to reveal them to anyone. If one does talk or write about them, people pretend to accept them with sarcastic remarks and dubious smiles, while adhering either to prevalent beliefs or to their own ideas about them. The reason is that as yet man has not found a remedy for these sores; the only remedy now is forgetfulness induced by wine or, artificial sleep induced by opium and other narcotics. It is a pity, however, that the effect of these drugs is transitory and that after a while, instead of soothing, they add to the pain.

D. P. Costello:

There are sores which slowly erode the mind in solitude like a kind of canker. It is impossible to convey a just idea of the agony which this disease can inflict. In general, people are apt to relegate such inconceivable sufferings to the category of the incredible. Any mention of them in conversation or in writing is considered
in the light of current beliefs, the individual’s personal beliefs in particular, and tends to provoke a smile of incredulity and derision. The reason for this incomprehension is that mankind has not yet discovered a cure for this disease. Relief from it is to be found only in the oblivion brought about by wine and in the artificial sleep induced by opium and similar narcotics. Alas, the effects of such medicines are only temporary. After a certain point, instead of alleviating the pain, they only intensify it.

That noted, I am very thankful to Noori for his effort, and I hope the Sadeq Hedayat Foundation - or anyone, really - will bring more of and about this author to readers of English.

tammikuu 14, 2013, 3:07 pm

If you tap in the address below (i couldn't manage to make it a linky thing) you'll find a charming little site in honour of hedayat, i cannot vouch for all of the content therein.

It's an interesting exercise comparing translations like this, initially i considered the Costello the best, but after a few more reads i think i am warming to Bashiri and maybe it was the familiarity of Costello which attracted me; Bashiri's language seems easier, more assured. Noori comes across as more mechanical in this passage... obviously they all deserve to be read in their entirety.

tammikuu 14, 2013, 3:07 pm

Wow... it IS a linky thing !

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 2013, 4:36 pm

I was in contact with the guy that runs that page for awhile - but the conversation tended to stray to areas outside my limited boundaries of interest.

I almost like Costello's opening sentence better than Bashiri's, but Bashiri has the benefit of an educated native speaker's knowledge of Persian and an ear for nuance in English. In the context of what seems like the narrator's turning in circles in the amduat of the afterlife, "soul" is probably a better translation than "mind" (the narrator may be simply mad, but he may also be mad and dead. "Soul" covers both possibilities). Also, given the narrator's horror of female sexuality, "whore" is probably more precise a translation than Costello's "bitch", etc.

tammikuu 31, 2013, 11:29 am

helmikuu 3, 2013, 4:52 pm

Thanks for this, ben.
who would have thought tbo had such exotic appreciation... have plundered your library and sent for several books i hadn't even heard of, dark back of time is particularly exciting, so thanks for that too. best, sam.

helmikuu 6, 2013, 1:02 pm

72: If you do pick up Dark Back of Time, make sure you pick up All Souls, too. It was really good and, if I understand correctly, DBoT draws from the reaction Marias received from his acquaintances who believed they recognized theselves in the characters and events in AS.

helmikuu 6, 2013, 4:29 pm

Thank you for taking the time to tell me this, i have also ordered thomas bernhard's correction and old masters, i am in the midst of one of my "book thirsts", good health to you all !

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 26, 2013, 11:32 am

I found this passage in Walter Otto's The Homeric Gods interesting: "So the owl was thought to be the bird of Athena ... the epic emphasizes that aspect of the owl which is most striking - its bright eyes. Athena is called Glaukopis, which is to say, 'Bright-eyed'. " (How many times have we read of the irresistible allure of "glaucous eyes"? - Lorrain, etc.) A blind owl is an owl denatured - or a devouring darkness behind a lure of light?

The association of wisdom and the eyes (shining, but not necessarily seeing), and the sign and essence of the potent female deity who appeared to Odysseus - that earlier, less enervated, knight errant - as both enigma and guide. The Blind Owl as a sort of (psychic/psychotic) Epic?

huhtikuu 27, 2013, 3:40 pm

Very interesting. Sophocles' Oedipus Rex comes to mind, in which Teresias the blind man sees the truth which Oedipus cannot see with his eyes. After he learns the truth about himself, Oedipus gauges out his eyes, blinding himself.

huhtikuu 4, 2018, 2:30 pm

An excerpt from The Sacred and the Absurd, a short film from 2005 on the last day of Sadeq Hedayat:

Please provide a link if anyone knows of a path to the full 15 minutes.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2018, 1:37 pm

Yeah - several good reasons for deleting this post, among them my sloppy scholarship. I should have checked the enthusiasm for the subject and done the research first. Poor Hedayat.

heinäkuu 28, 2018, 5:36 pm

More than shady, he's hilariously the editor of the far right Arktos publishing.

heinäkuu 30, 2018, 9:38 am

Yeah, the more I read up on the spoiled little suitful of boneless pudding, the creepier he sounded. I was interested in his tying together of the fairy faiths of various peoples and its relation to Hedayat.

I didn't know his exalted position as editor (apparently nazis read these days), but saw he was sacked for his various affiliations and pronouncements. Big into Persian Aryanism.

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