Sadeq Hedayat


Farzin Yazdanfar

Hedayat's drawing

Hedayat's drawing

Sadeq Hedayat, the foremost short story writer of Iran, was born in 1903. He was of a highly educated aristocratic family. After finishing his primary education, he was sent to a French school to study French. He received his secondary education there, and was sent to Europe on a government scholarship to study dentistry. He shortly gave up dentistry for engineering, and engineering for the study of pre-Islamic languages and ancient culture of Iran.

Young Hedayat's picture

In Europe, Hedayat was exposed to world literature, especially European literature, and read the works of Kafka, Poe, and Dostoevski. In his solitude, he became extremely self-conscious and devoted a great deal of his time to the problem of life and death. He studied the works of Rainer Maria Rilke and was impressed by Rilke's adoration of death so immensely that he wrote his own commentary on Death in 1927. He even tried to commit suicide in the same year by drowning himself in the river Marne, but he was rescued. He wrote collections of short stories and a novella, The Blind Owl, which is regarded as Hedayat's masterpiece and has been translated in many languages. It took him almost a decade to prepare this novella which he finally published in 1937 in India. It could not be published inside Iran until 1941.

Hedayat's language is both literary and scholarly. In addition to his novella and short stories, he was the first person to conduct serious and methodical research on the folklore of Iran. He also studied the ancient Iranian languages and wrote essays about archaelogy, anthropology and liguistics. Satire was also Hedayat's language. In his fiction, he criticizes the social and political problems of his society - criticism which is very often expressed in satirical form*.

Hedayat gradually improved his writing skill and developed a talent for philosophical, social, and eventually political themes. His career reached its peak in the late 1930s when he finished preparing his novella. However, in the 1940s, it was obvious that he could not produce anything substantial. He became increasingly frustrated to the point that abusive criticism replaced artistic criticism in his works. His inability to create the literary works his public expected, drove him deeper into depression. He finally decided to leave Iran and go back to Paris, where he had started his career. However, postwar Paris was not the Paris he had experienced in the 1920s.

He made his last decision. He attempted suicide again; this time he succeeded, on April 4, 1951. At the time of his death, he had become recognized as the foremost modern prose author of Iran.

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Hedayat's painting

Hedayat's painting
"Le violoniste"


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