Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Blind Owl: An Iranian Classic

One of world's "most intense" books
Michael Dirda, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post Book World, reviews at length Sadeq P. Hedayat's classic novel The Blind Owl at Barnes & Noble Review.
Somewhere I must have read a little about Hedayat (1903–51), for I knew that he had committed suicide and that The Blind Owl was regarded as one of the great novels of 20th-century Iran. I knew, too, that it was phantasmagoric and macabre, somewhat in the manner of Poe, with a touch of The Arabian Nights, but also philosophical, indeed existential. Hedayat was said to have been a disciple of Sartre. Having now read the book, it does seem influenced by Sartre's Nausea, for its narrator finds existence dizzying, an Escher-like realm of repetition, shifting perspective, and illusion.

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