. Born in Tehran
1903, committed suicide
Hedayat is arguably the best known Iranian author of modern prose, although his fame as the greatest master of the Farsi language since the medieval poet Hafiz rests mainly on a short novel called The Blind Owl (or Buf-i-Kur in Persian), which has been translated into English, French, Spanish and Finnish, as well as other languages.
The Blind Owl is a haunting story told in the first-person narrative by a man both mentally and physically ill, a man approaching death, whose sole audience is his "shadow on a wall". It is a wild tale of what lies beneath the human mind: desire, decay, art, madness, drugs and even necrophilia, all described through an opium-induced haze of illogicality - this certainly is not the book to give to your grandmother to help her while away those idle moments during a Sunday afternoon.
As a writer, Hedayat was strongly influenced by Rainer Maria Rilke (to whom he is often compared to], Franz Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the Iranian poet Omar Khayyam.
Many themes found in the Blind Owl also appear in Hedayat's less known works, like the much-translated short story Three Drops of Blood, which was made into a motion picture in Iran during the 70's.
"What is love? For the rabble love is a kind of variety, a transient vulgarity; the rabble's conception of love is best found in their obscene ditties, in prostitution and in the foul idioms they use when they are halfway sober, such as 'shoving the donkey's foreleg in mud' or 'putting dust on the head'. My love for her, however, was of a totally different kind. I knew her from ancient times - strange slanted eyes, a narrow, half-open mouth, a subdued quiet voice. She was the embodiment of all my distant, painful memories among which I sought what I was deprived of, what belonged to me but somehow I was denied. Was I deprived forever?"
(from the 'Blind Owl' trans. by Iraj Bashiri