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Mansoureh Sharifzadeh, The BLind Owl of Sadegh Hedayat: An Attempt to Cope with Humiliation, Tehran, Iran, 2013/7/24 [Posted August 13, 2013: Post 1789]I

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The Blind Owl Of Sadegh Hedayat: An Attempt to Cope with Humiliation

Mansoureh Sharifzadeh


2013/7/24 [Posted on August 13, 2013: Pot 1789]

  1. I.     Introduction:

I think it has been at least about 3 decades that every now and then, I have been reading The Blind Owl of Sadegh Hedayat over and over. Each time I come to newer measures that make me deeply thoughtful about. The writer himself and every single character take me to a long term dream and imagination. I read it to explore the world that the writer has lived in and I try to digest his thoughts, although it seems quite impossible to me. What I am more concerned about The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat is both the narrative and the author himself. I usually think how it has been practical for someone to create so many imaginary sceneries that seem both real and fiction.


Sadegh Hedayat’s character is of great wonder to me, and when he describes the condition of Tehran of more than a hundred years ago in the era of Qajar and Reza Shah Pahlalavi, I like to be swamped among the pages to not only illustrate but also see them as vividly as possible. What makes me more interested in this book are the historical places that he portrays as well as the Owl which has been mentioned only three times while being the center of the world’s attention about this book. The main theme of the book revolves around the character of a man who finally introduces himself as an Owl, and amazingly The Blind Owl.


In the present essay I try to introduce Sadegh Hedayat’s life and especially his thoughts and ideas that have inspired this writing to come into existence. Necessary to mention that writing about Sadegh Hedayat and his works are not an easy task to do especially when it comes to The Blind Owl  that I am concerned about. It is not an ordinary narrative and some may refer to it as a melancholy writing. There are different interpretations about his works. I do this writing based on my own perspective and consideration. I can’t write unless the former comments help me to find my own view in compaison with them. The closest comments which I rely on belong to Jalal Al-e-Ahmad.[1] In this case there are numerous scholars including M.F. Farzaneh whose book Renconters Avec Sadegh Hedayat ( Knowing Sadegh Hedayt) which is in two parts: 1- Souvenirs d’un disciple (What Sasdegh hedayat Told M); 2- Que disait Sadegh Hedayat? )What did Sadegh Hedayat tell?). This book covers most of the knowledge about Sadegh Hedayt and as far as I know it is in Persian.


Reading The Blind Owl  is very pleasing, but if it is understood, it will become more pleasing. Some reviewers refer to it as ‘magical realism’. Usually people think of it as a strange story which it actually is. Some readers think that it has echoes of Poe’s story; The Best Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James; ‘The Turn of the Screw, and Kafka’s Claustrophobic environment and strange experiences in The Castle and in the city of Joseph K.’s The Trial.


The most important feature of this imaginary story is that there is variety of characters that all are one, i.e. the narrator himself. The main characters are his uncle/father, a man who gave him a ride to the cemetery, his wife’s other lover, and perhaps at the end his dead wife. And finally in the book he reads:

  • The old odds-and-ends man, the butcher, Nanny and the bitch, my wife, were shadows of me, shadows in the midst of which I was imprisoned. I had become like a screech-owl, but my cries caught in my throat and I spat them out in the form of clots of blood. Perhaps screech-owls are subject to a disease which makes them think as I think. My shadow on the wall had become exactly like an owl and leaning forward, read intently every word I wrote. Without doubt he understood perfectly. Only he was capable of understanding. When I looked out of the corner of my eye at my shadow on the wall I felt afraid.


The book empowers imagination and stimulates the readers to become eager to know more. For me the sentences are simply murmurs that I must bring my ears closer to realize the single words which seem to be uttered too silently to be heard.


I describe the book as a desolated garden covered with leaves, over which dark clouds hang. This life ceased to be its long ago.  Some people might have lived in that dreamland or maybe once it had been a Utopia that doesn’t exist anymore. There still remains a Blind Owl that relies on its imagination and has chosen a lonely place to review the memory of those people who might have existed only in the legends. The desolated garden of the Owl  must be explored and at any step new ideas and ancient items might be discovered. The garden might be considered as a reflection of the future world where the people or the shadow will come into existence to hear more about the experiences of Sadegh Hedayat.


In this book the writer is in the heart of the events. He reveals his ideas and brings the reader to a world of wonder and curiosity.  Not my feeling, but some people may think of this book as dark, sad, funereal yet ethereal while being a “psycho-fiction”, in its beautiful lyrical prose for sure.


The book was self-published in 1937 in Bombay, and got published in 1941 in Tehran, Iran by its author, Sadegh Hedayat (1903-1951). It was subsequently banned in Iran. This book brings up the most heartbreaking realities of a society that was ruled over by the dictatorship of Reza Shah (1924-1941) and the dim period of the rulers of Qajar Dynasty (1794-1925) when no freedom of thought and speech were permitted and intellectuals were tortured under the most severe critical pressures.

Hedayat’s life has been along with hardships in that period of painful history of dictatorship of Iran and finally committed suicide 10 years after this book’s Tehran publication in his apartment in France. He gassed himself to his death at 48; his grave is in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

His death brought Iran and the world a great loss. Iran lost not only a great thinker but also an author of the souls who was an authoritative translator too. The Iranian rulers did not have a good perception about his knowledge and requirements to dignify him instead of humiliation. Humiliation is an inseparable element of an autocracy ruling system. Linda Hartling reads, “A world without humiliation dignifies us all.” Dignity enhances the inner abilities and brings the whole society to a better place to live in.


  1. II.      Sadegh Hedayat (Born on Feb. 17, 1903, Tehran, Iran – Died on April 4, 1954, Paris, France)

As the  Encyclopedia Britanica- 15th Edition reads: He is an Iranian author who introduced Modernist techniques into Persian Fiction. He is considered one of the Iranian writers of all of the 20th century. Since Hedayat came from a prominent aristocratic family and completed his education in the west, he could not stand the vicious and ignorant rulers of his time.


His affluent father gave him comfort and studying in the west from the age of 21 brought him wakefulness that made him more critical about his society which was ruled by the dictators and illiterate people of his life time period. He committed a suicide as it might have seemed the best way for him to make the ears hear his tortures. It is about 60 (2013) years after his death that his thoughts are still being analyzed to be explored by the scholars of the world.


The secret of Hedayat’s writings are hidden in his brand new style that still makes the people attentive about. As it was the time of dictatorship, the book is rich in ambiguity as he tries to produce codes that the reader must interpret him/herself. Those who like to think deeply never get tired of the concepts which are hidden among the lines and paragraphs. One must have had enough knowledge about the history of Iran to understand the deeper layer of the book; otherwise what remains for the reader is nothing but an addicted writer who has committed suicide after ten years of the publication of The Blind Owl in Iran.


Who knows? He might have committed suicide to get rid of misinterpretations of the people about his works, especially in Iran. I would rather say, Hedayat was murdered and he and his Blind Owl implicitly teaches us to persist and defend our ideas even if not being in favour of those who try to challenge the new concepts.  Hedayat and his condition in addition to his world view are still alive. His life and death can bring us new awareness to endure more to bring the world newer leading ideologies.

As Wikipedia reads, Hedayat (1903-1951) was born to a Northern Iranian aristocratic family in Tehran and was educated at Collège Saint-Louis (French catholic school) and Dar-olFonoon (1914–1916). In 1925, he was among a select few students who travelled to Europe to continue their studies. There, he initially went on to study engineering in Belgium, after a year he abandoned engineering for architecture, in France. While there, he gave up architecture to pursue dentistry. In this period he became acquainted with Therese, a Parisian with whom he had a love affair. In 1927 Hedayat attempted suicide by throwing himself into the river Marne; however he was rescued by a fishing boat. After four years in France and Belgium, he finally surrendered his scholarship and returned home in the summer of 1930 without receiving a degree. In Iran he held various jobs for short periods.

Hedayat subsequently devoted his whole life to studying Western literature and learning and investigating Iranian history and folklore. The works of Rainer Maria Rilke, Edgar Allen Poe, Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov and Guy deMaupassant fascinated him the most.

During his literary life, Hedayat published a substantial number of short stories and novelettes, two historical dramas, a play, a travelogue, and a collection of satirical parodies and sketches. His writings also include numerous literary criticisms, studies in Persian folklore, and many translations from Middle Persian and French. He is credited with having brought Persian language and literature into the mainstream of international contemporary writing. There is no doubt that Hedayat was the most modern of all modern writers in Iran, although he never followed European values.

In his later years, he was deeply annoyed by socio-political problems of the time. Hedayat started attacking the monarchy and its clerics’ false values on religion through his writings. Ayatollah Khomeini called this group of clerics; the “clerics of monarchy”. Hedayat was trying to cope with the abuses of the two mentioned powers. He was among the people but felt quite lonely as the people were not caring about the misleading managements. In The Blind Owl he reads;

  • 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 which waits      to pounce on unpopulated cities filled with lustful and vengeful dreams.

Hedayat was a great thinker while sensitive and unique not only in that era of Iran but also in the history of the world literature. Hedayat came from a noble family and was not able to endure a society where the intellectuals were ignored by the pressure of the oppressor leaders. In addition he didn’t have a challenging character to tolerate and cope with the hardships, I believe. He was not an agnostic but did a protest against the false religious values that were presented in a society of blind followers.

Hedayat traveled and stayed in India from 1937 until 1939. In Bombay he completed and published his everlasting work, The Blind Owl that he started as early as 1930 in Paris. The book was praised by many including Henry Miller and André Breton. It has been called “one of the most important literary works in the Persian language”.

I suppose, Hedayat’s  Blind Owl is a victim of a period of dictatorship and self esteemed rulers who followed their own shallow minded perspectives without having any knowledge about the  alternatives, as they were illiterate. They openly humiliated the intellectuals. For me Hedayat owns a highly respected character whose education, ideas, and writings give us immense awareness about the thoughtful younger generations of all periods that must be paid more attention to.

In The Blind Owl, the author symbolically brings his problems up and implicitly tries to make the reader understood that the conditions are not in favour.

  • “I write only for my shadow which is cast on the wall in front of the light. I must introduce myself to it.”

 He trusts no one except for himself that he can talk with. In this case, I remember the moments that we prefer consulting with ourselves to find a solution for the problems that can’t be expressed openly. He illustrates his life as a dark, small room that he is sentenced to live in.

  • The room itself has two windows facing out onto the world of the rabble.

One of them looks onto our own courtyard, the other onto the street.


In his world all men are rabbles and all women are bitches. He feels quite alone.

Necessary to mention that the first leader of Shi’a / Islam, Imam Ali (Peace Be Upon Him) could never trust anyone because he had many enemies so didn’t trust anyone to talk with and he placed his head inside a Well and complained about the hardships and tyrannical actions of the ruling system.

In late 1950, Hedayat left Iran for Paris. There, on April 4, 1951, he committed suicide by gassing himself in a small rented apartment on 37 Rue Championnet where I visited in 1978. His thoughts are still alive to these days, though. He penned his ideas in The Blind Owl to be explored by the future generations. His has left a variety of ideas that the readers’ interpretations might be completely different from each other.  The Blind Owl  (1937) is Sadegh Hedayat’s everlasting masterpiece of prose. It is a major literary work of the 20th century of Iran written in Persian.

Hedayat might be known as “a poet of despair”. It depends on how one looks at his works. Hedayat was a genius and the greatest writers of the world have concentrated and contemplated on his works especially The Blind Owl which is a record of failure and mismanagements that have not been able to understand the inner layer of his thoughts.


The rulers of censorship were not willing to acquire the inner meaning of the book which is apparently integrated in some sort of psychotic problems. Time must find a chance to let the people know the great scholars. Galileo[2] is only one of the examples of being in harassment because of his new ideas. Hedayat has been a victim of the ignorance and dictatorships, so is the The Blind Owl of Sadegh Hedayat, i.e. Sadegh Hedayat himself.

III.        Hedayt’s Works:

Hedayat has written sixteen fictions among which The Blind Owl is the most expressive one, three dramas, two travelogues, fifteen studies including Rubāyyāt-e Hakim Omar-e Khayyam,(1935): He

was very fond of Khayyam,  criticism and miscellanea , eleven translations from French and Pahlavi languages.

  1. IV.        The Blind Owl:

The Blind Owl was written during the oppressive latter years of Reza Shah’s rule (1925-1941). It was originally published in a limited edition in Bombay, during Hedayat’s year-long stay there in 1937, stamped with “Not for sale or publication in Iran.” It first appeared in Tehran in 1941 (as a serial in the daily Iran), after Reza Shah’s abdication, and had an immediate and forceful effect. It is believed that much of the novel had already been completed by 1930 while Hedayat was still a student in Paris.

 The Blind Owl

The book was published in many languages, including German, Turkish, Armenian, and Japanese and other languages. The Blind Owl is a depressing but persuasive vision and a masterly psychological portrait.

  1. V.      A Summary of the book:

The first lines of the book read,

  • “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 and tends to provoke a smile of incredulity and derision. So of course human-kind has yet to discover a cure for this disease. Relief from it is to be found only in the oblivion brought about by wine, the artificial sleep induced by opium and similar narcotics. Alas, the effects of such medicines are only temporary. After a certain point they only intensify the pain instead of alleviating it..”

This opening chapter is almost a summary of The Blind Owl, which is a study in alienation and estrangement. However, it is not an easy book to summarize as the book is in two parts.

The first part circles around a beautiful, female angel that to the narrator she was a woman and at the same time something that transcended humanity. In this regard the narrator reads;

  • “In      this mean world of wretchedness and misery, for the first time I thought a      ray of sunshine had shown on my life. But alas, it was not a sunbeam;      rather it was only a passing gleam, a shooting star, which appeared to me      in the likeness of a woman or an angel. And in the light of that moment,      lasting only about a second, I witnessed all my life’s misfortunes, and I      discovered their magnitude and grandeur. Then this beam of light      disappeared again into the dark abyss into which it was bound inevitably      to disappear.

The second part circles around a wife known only as “The Bitch.” His wife is actually a symbol of all of the worldly people whom he deals with.

  • What relationship could exist      between the lives of the fools and healthy rabble who were well, who slept      well, who performed the sexual act well, who had never felt the wings of      death on their face every moment—what relationship could exist between      them and one like me who has arrived at the end of his rope and who knows      that he will pass away gradually and tragically?

In the first part, The nameless narrator–an alcoholic, opium-addicted painter of pen cases–gazes out his window and becomes obsessed with a beautiful, dark-haired woman. This woman later seems to come to the narrator’s room, lays down on his bed and dies. After painting her eyes, he cuts her up into pieces with his bone-handled knife, stuffs her in a suitcase, and is driven by horse-drawn hearse to a cemetery to bury her.


In the second part, once back at home, he consumes more opium and awakens to a seemingly new identity. In this second section, he is the opium-addicted husband of a dark-haired woman whom he only calls “the bitch,” as she has never agreed to sleep with him. It ultimately ends with the narrator entertaining an urge to take his bone-handled knife to the black-haired woman.


The pains that he has with his relationships with the people he knows (and probably loves) are so sour that there is no way for him except for writing them symbolically.

To go into more details about the book,

  • The unnamed narrator had been born in India to a Persian merchant and an erotic Indian temple dancer. The merchant had an identical twin brother who also fell in love with the dancer; to determine who would win her, the brothers agreed to the “ordeal of the cobra.” The idea was for both brothers to enter a dark room with a cobra and the one who emerged alive would win the woman. One of them came out of the room alive, but the experience had run him half-mad. The dancer-mother left the narrator with a sister in Iran, who raised him along with her own daughter, who happened to have the same unusual “Turkoman” eyes as the narrator’s mother.


When this daughter grew up, motivated the narrator to marry her, although had no real interest in him. She would not sleep with him, and shamelessly communicated with different men. The man loved her, although hating her at the same time. The narrator fell ill and was more or less confined to one room. Here he drank wine and smoked opium, and was shocked by repetitive images of his wife/ mother or his own illusions especially related to the images of an old man by a cypress tree—or was it the “odds-and-ends man” that might have been his father or uncles or he himself.
In many ways The Blind Owl resembles a psychedelic trip. In the book there are such characters as, the Man, the Old Man, the Wife, the Nurse, the Mother-in-law, Street vendor, Band of drunken policemen, the odds-and-ends man, the butcher, the brother-in-law. All of them are actually a reflection of his own personality. Further on he mentions them as his shadows and reads:


  • They were shadows of me, shadows in the midst of which I was imprisoned. I had become like a screech-owl, but my cries caught in my throat and I spat them out in the form of clots of blood. Perhaps screech-owls are subject to a disease which makes them think as I think. My shadow on the wall had become exactly like an owl and leaning forward, read intently every word I wrote. Without doubt he understood perfectly. Only he was capable of understanding. When I looked out of the corner of my eye at my shadow on the wall I felt afraid.


For me, The Blind Owl brings awareness. Although, his book is not a history or geography text book, it is rich in geographical and historical information. It can be interpreted in political, social, psychological, tomantic, geographical and historical aspects. It depends on what you expect from it. People read for different ideas. One should feel it, as no reason can bring it more understanding.


VI.    The author of this essay’s main interest in The Blind Owl:

As I have mentioned in earlier parts, my main interest in the book is due to the stance of Owl, history and geography of the event. Of course, there are many cases that can be reviewed in this book. What makes sense to me is that finally the narrator introduces himself as a shadow casted on the wall that is a blind owl bending on the writings of the author to read and become aware of the condition. To go into more features, First I do a review on the stance of an owl in the Iranian culture.

  1. VII.      An Owl In the different Cultures:

In Iran, either before or after Islam an Owl is a bird of ill omen, and a sign of death. the embodiment of evil spirits that carries off children at night.  In Farsi the Little Owl (Athene Noctua) is called “Joghde-kochak”. It is said that this bird brings bad luck. In Islam, it’s forbidden (Haram) to eat.

Arabs used to believe that the spirit of a murdered man continues to wail and weep until his death is avenged. They believed that a bird that they called “al Sada” (or the death-owl) would continue to hoot over the grave of a slain man whose death had not been avenged. The bird would continue to hoot endlessly until the slain man’s death was avenged.

In the Middle East the owl is linked with destruction, ruin and death. It is believed to represent the souls of people who have died un-avenged. Seeing an owl on the way to battle foretells a bloody battle with many deaths and casualties. Seeing an owl at somebody’s house predicts his or her death. Seeing an owl in your sleep is fine as long as you don’t hear its voice. An Owl’s sound forecasts a bad day.
A person who nags and complains a lot is compared to an owl. When someone is grumpy or is delivering bad news, he or she is said to have a face like an owl.

In Persian folklore the Owls, particularly screech owls, which is what the Blind Owl refers to, are harbingers of death. Considering the miserable fascination with death within the novel, following which Hedayat committed suicide, it reads like a last will and testament with hindsight.


As the mother of the narrator has been a Hindu temple dancer, what is evident is that the narrator has been impressed with Indian cultural thoughts and ideas.  So it is necessary to mention that the owl is symbolized as good fortune although being a sign of mental distress in Indian culture.


The owl of Sadegh Hedayat is blind which means there is no need to see the people as they are so horrifying that is better to be ignored. The owls usually live in isolation in the desolated ruins so the Owl of Sadegh Hedayat always lives in isolation and has no interest in the people because they are not the sort of people that he wishes for. The people around him are all bitches that have false intentions and interests in the worldly affairs that the narrator is fed up with. Some paragraphs read as:

·         I passed through many streets and distraughtly walked by the rabble who with greedy faces, were in pursuit of money and lust. In fact, I did not need to see them to know them; one was enough to represent the rest. They were all like one big mouth leading to a wad of guts, terminating in a sexual organ.

The whole story portrays a deadly and hazardous environment that even the police are corrupted and drunk and just go through the streets to terrify the people not to exit the houses and be imprisoned inside the dark walls of their ignorance. The narrator of The Blind Owl has no interest in being among the people and avoids them. This is exactly as most owls do. They are not friendly with other birds or with each other.


In reality Hedayat was among the friends and communicating with them while not very willing to face the public.  A while ago I went to Café Naderi in Tehran and sat at the same corner that Hedayat used to sit with his back to the people and facing the garden. Aqil Zarok, a poet from Mazandaran, Iran, believes that Hedayat was sitting at the same corner when he went to the Café with his friends including, Jalal Ale- Ahamad, Sadegh Chooback and more.


  1. VIII.  Owls in Myth and Legend:

From ancient times to the present, owls appear in tales from many different cultures. Both the Greek and Roman goddesses of wisdom, Pallas and Minerva were often pictured in the company of an owl. Anyhow, most cultures associate owls with death in both good and bad ways. Symbolically the meaning of owl deals with  intelligence – brilliance-perspective –intuition- quick-wit – independence wisdom – protection – mystery – power .

Taking symbolism from the owl directly, it is noteworthy that it is a creature of the night. Nocturnal creatures are symbolic of inner-knowing, psychic ability, and intuition – so too is the owl.

  1. IX.        History and Geography:

The first part of the book takes us to more than one hundred years ago, the time of Qajar Dynastry. As I told I am interested in the old time of Tehran. I like to bring up a paragraph that describes Tehran the best and I enjoy reading;

  • On each side of the road was a line of hills standing quite clear of one another.

At the foot of the hills there were numbers of weird, crouching, accursed trees, between which

one caught sight of ash-gray houses shaped like pyramids, cubes and prisms, with low,

dark windows without panes.

The windows were like the wild eyes of a man in a state of delirium.

The walls of the houses appeared to possess the property of instilling intense cold into the heart

of the passer-by.

One felt that no living creature could ever have dwelt in those houses.

Perhaps they had been built to house the ghosts of ethereal beings.

Apparently the driver of the hearse was taking me by a by-road or by some special route of his   own. In some places all that was to be seen on either side of the road were stumps and wry, twisted trees, beyond which were houses, some squat, some tall, of geometrical shapes —

perfect cones, truncated cones – with narrow, crooked windows from which blue flowers of morning glory protruded and twined over the doors and walls.


On the other side of the hill was an isolated enclosure, peaceful and green. It was a place which I had never seen before and yet it looked familiar to me, as though it had always been present in some recess of my mind. The ground was covered with vines of blue, scentless morning glory. I felt that no one until that moment had ever set foot in the place.

We’re not far from Shah Abdo’l Azim[3].


Hedayat ‘s writings are rich in description and metaphor. He has never lost his own cultural and traditional values, although he has always been in direct contact with world literature and international values of the west. He is well familiar with Islam and religious ideas of the Iranians and Shi’a, and he never reveals in which religion he believes but he finally is buried as a Muslim and a Shia. What he is opposed with is the religious hierocracy, hypocrisy and superstitions.


  1. Conclusion:

Writing about Hedayat and his masterpiece is not an easy commentary for me. Of course what I wrote is just an overview of an ordinary reader and all through the years numerous articles and criticisms have been written by the scholars about his works especially The Blind Owl. Now I am happy that I am having a brief share in this case to prove his memory that there are some ordinary people like me that are interested in his writing and style. Hedayat’s knowledge and ideas are rare and will remain new as long as the history of literature remains on this planet. He has brought up the problems of the society of his Iran in the most attentive, attractive and artistic way.


He has written his novels in a period that more than 90 percent of the Iranians were illiterate whose knowledge was dictated by the dictators of Iran and the west. In that era he could never express his ideas openly. His writings especially in the Blind Owl that I am concerned about in this short essay, reveal his phobia from the oppressive ruling system. He opens his ideas in the most delicate manner and a shallow minded reader might assume him as an addicted writer whose melancholy ideas might create harassment to the society.


His writing analyzes the society in many different aspects. He analyzes his own family from religious and superstitious dimensions. He analyzes the society from economical and social dimensions and particularly stresses on the aspect of a false religion that is passing through different generations by false beliefs.


For him the old man is a symbol of bringing superstition in to the society whose main tool is a religion to keep the people ignorant. The old odd man is a symbol of a generation that is rotten but still occupies in the heart of the life of the people. Ayatollah Khomeini refers to this group as the “Monarchy clerics” who should be defeated seriously. The young beautiful girl who offers the old man a morning glory flower is the symbol of a new generation that still tries to be attached to the out of period values and tries to give the flower to the man although the time has arrived for her to be separated from the old principles by a streams that runs between them and divides the history of Tehran that Hedayat calls, Rey into two periods. The period that the old man was living and the new era that, the young beautiful girl is being raised.


Hedayat refers to “Shadow” in his writing. I think for him shadow refers to the future generation who are his hope. He writes for them in a hope that his ideas would be explored in the later years of this society.


The Blind Owl is a symbol of knowledge and understanding that is deprived from seeing anything  during the day, although it can explore the facts during the nights.  An Owl is a symbol of his own existence and loneliness that is obliged to live alone and witness the facts that torture him.


As an Iranian I am proud of Sadegh Hedayt. I am proud of a person whose pen creates awareness even up to this day. Now Iran owns more than 60 percent of literate people whose knowledge and ideas grow by the young generation and can explore his ideas to come into more awareness and think about what is going on in the world and the country.


During the past 34 years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the super powers have created such hardships for the Iranians that it is not very likely for them to concentrate on the ideas and thought of the greatest Iranian thinkers. However, here and there, there are people who ignore the economic problems created by the sanction and enmities. Those people overcome the hardships and bring the  greatest Iranian thinkers into contemplation.


Sadegh Hedayt was a great thinker whose ideas could not be accepted by the majority of the people of his time. Even to this day, some people are quite skeptical about him; this might create a more powerful tendency towards exploring him to bring his ideas into consideration.


The more we read and write about Hedayat the greater need will be felt to know him more. The more I read about Hedayat, I acquire more understanding about a man who couldn’t tolerate a world of materialistic and false values. The dictators of the time humiliated the people to keep them ignorant to bring more powers for themselves. Linda Hartling reads, “A world without humiliation dignifies us all.”


I hope his soul rests in peace and tranquility as his main aim was bringing awareness and his communication with the world of the West created a link between us and the world of international intellectuals. Blessing and Salam to all of the true followers of the freedom of thought and action in the realm of humanity and peace.



[Michael Prosser’s comment: In the Inuit (Eskimo) in Alaska and Canada, when one hears “The Owl has called my name,” it means that his or her death in impending.]



[1] . (December 2, 1923- September9, 1969) was a prominent Iranian writer, thinker, and social and political critic. He is the writer of numerous novels and novellas, short stories, critical essays among which ‘Plagued by the West'(Gharbzadegi) is the most important one, monographs, traveloguesand, translations. He is the husband of Simin Daneshvar, one of the most important Iranian writers.

[2] Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), was the Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific Revolution, although Galileo was condemned by the Catholic Church for ‘vehement suspicious of heresy’.

[3] The Shāh Abdol Azīm Shrine, located in Rey, Iran, contains the tomb of: ‘Abdillāh al-Hasani. Shah Abdol Azim was a fifth generation descendant of Hasan ibn Ali. He was entombed here after his death in the 9th century.Adjacent to the shrine, within the complex, include the mausolea of Imamzadeh Tahir (son of the fourth Shiah Imam Sajjad), and Imamzadeh Hamzeh (brother of the eighth Twelve Imām – Imam Reza).



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