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The Blind Owl

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Wikipedia article

'The Blind Owl' (1936; , 'Boof-e koor', ) is Sadegh Hedayat's magnum opus and a major literary work of 20th century Iran. Written in Persian, it tells the story of an unnamed pen case painter, the narrator, who sees in his macabre, feverish nightmares that "the presence of death annihilates all that is imaginary. We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life; it is death that beckons us from the depths of life. If at times we come to a halt, we do so to hear the call of death... Throughout our lives, the finger of death points at us." The narrator addresses his murderous confessions to the shadow on his wall resembling an owl. His confessions do not follow a linear progression of events and often repeat and layer themselves thematically, thus lending to the open-ended nature of interpretation of the story.

'The Blind Owl' was written during the oppressive latter years of Reza Shah's rule (19251941). It was originally published in a limited edition in Bombay, during Hedayat's two-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 was later banned, reportedly because it led readers towards suicide. The novel was not tolerated during Reza Shah, probably due to its "pessimism which went counter to the Shahs grandiloquent rhetoric of progress." It is believed that much of the novel had already been completed by 1930 while Hedayat was still a student in Paris. Being inspired by European ideologies, the author challenges the traditions and as a result, the work is the representation of modern literature in Iran.Coulter, Yasamine C. "A Comparative Post-Colonial Approach to Hedayat's The Blind Owl." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and

Culture 2.3 (2000)

, Tehran, 1930.


'The Blind Owl' was translated into French by Roger Lescot during World War II, apparently with Hedayat's knowledge and approval, and published as 'La Chouette Aveugle' (1953), and later by Pasteur Vallery Radot, a member of the French Academy. The book was well received in the French literary circles.

'The Blind Owl' was translated into English by D. P. Costello (1957), by Iraj Bashiri (1974, revised in 1984 and again in 2013), by Naveed Noori (2011) and by Sassan Tabatabai (2022).

In Germany, two translations appeared in the early 1960s. The first, entitled 'Die Blinde Eule,' was translated by Heshmat Moayyed, Otto H. Hegel and Ulrich Riemerschmidt directly from the Persian; the second, in East Germany, was translated by Gerd Henniger from the French version.

In Turkey, 'The Blind Owl' was translated from Persian to Turkish in 1977 by the Turkish poet Behet Necatigil, under the title "Kr Bayku".

In Italy translations of 'the Blind Owl' from English or French versions appeared since the 60s, whereas in 2020 it was translated from Persian by Anna Varzan.

In Poland 'The Blind Owl' was translated from the Persian original by late specialist in Iranian studies, Barbara Majewska, Ph.D. It appeared under the same-meaning title "lepa sowa" twice. First in the respectable literary quarterly 'Literatura na wiecie' (No 10(90), Warszawa, October 1978, pp. 4116); then as a separate book (Warszawa, 1979).

In Romania, 'The Blind Owl' was translated from Persian into Romanian in 1996 by the orientalist philologist Gheorghe Iorga, under the title 'Bufnia oarb'. A revised second edition came out in 2006.

In Mexico, 'The Blind Owl' was translated from the Roger Lescot's French version into Spanish by Agust Bartra, under the title 'La lechuza ciega'. It was published by Joaqun Mortiz Books in 1966.

In Urdu the novel has been translated by Ajmal Kamal with the original name 'Boof-e-Kor'. Many of Hedayat's short stories have also been translated into Urdu, mostly by Bazl-e-Haq Mahmood, who published one volume of his short stories as 'Sag-e-Awara (Sag-e Velgard)'.

In India, two translations appeared in the Malayalam language. The first, entitled 'Kurudan Moonga', was translated by the famous novelist late Vilasini. The second, entitled 'Kurudan Kooman' was translated by S. A. [Qudsi] and published by Mathrubhumi Books in 2005; second edition has been published by DC Books in 2011.

In Finland, 'The Blind Owl' was translated from Persian into Finnish in 1990 by Henri Broms, Petri Pohjanlehto and Leena Talvio, under the title 'Sokea pll'.

In Armenian, translated by Eduard Hakhverdyan.

In Japan, 'The Blind Owl' was translated by Kiminori Nakamura and published by Hakusuisha in 1983 under the title " (Mmoku no Fukurou)."

In Indonesia, 'The Blind Owl' was translated by Noor Aida a.k.a. Aida Vyasa and published by Dastan Books in 2004.

In the Philippines, 'The Blind Owl' was translated by Mercedes DL. Tulaylay under the title 'Bulag na Kuwago'.

In the Netherlands, 'The Blind Owl' was translated by Ali Soleimani under the title 'De Blinde Uil'.

In China, 'The Blind Owl' was translated by Mu Hongyan under the title '' and published by Henan University Press in 2017. It was named to the China Reading Weekly's top 100 of 2017.

In Czechoslovakia 'The Blind Owl' appeared in the translation of Vra Kubkov (under the title 'Slep sova') with other nine stories as a part of the book 'Ti kapky krve' ('Three Drops of Blood'), and published by SNKLU in Prague, 1964.

In Estonia, 'The Blind Owl' was translated from Persian into Estonian in 2018 by the orientalist llar Peterson under the title 'Pime kull'.


The novel was made into a film in 1974 (Boof-e-koor AKA The Blind Owl - available on YouTube), directed by Kioumars Derambakhsh, starring Parviz Fanizadeh, Farshid Farshood and Parvin Solaymani.[https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343502/ The Blind Owl on IMDB]

It was also made into the 1987 film 'The Blind Owl' directed by Ral Ruiz.

It was adapted into a 2018 feature film, 'The Blind Owl: Boofe Koor' by Iranian-Canadian Mazdak Taebi.[https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3455206/ The Blind Owl : Boofe Koor on IMDB]


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