Sadeq (or Sadegh) Hedayat (in Persian: صادق هدایت; February 17 1903, Tehran — 4 April, 1951, Paris, France) was Iran's foremost modern writer of prose fiction and short stories.
He was born to an aristocratic family and was educated at Dar ol-Fonoon
(1914-1916) and the Lycée Français
(French high school) in Tehran
. In 1925, he was among a select few students who travelled to Europe to continue their studies. There, he initially pursued dentistry
before giving this up for engineering
. After four years in France
, Hedayat returned to Iran where he held various jobs for short periods.
Hedayat subsequently devoted his whole life to studying Western literature and to learning and investigating Iranian history and folklore. The works of Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Rainer Maria Rilke, Edgar Allan Poe and Franz Kafka intrigued him the most. During his short literary life span, 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. Yet, for Hedayat, modernity was not just a question of scientific rationality or a pure imitation of European values.
In his later years, feeling the socio-political problems of the time, Hedayat started attacking the two major causes of Iran’s decimation, the monarchy and the clergy, and through his stories he tried to impute the deafness and blindness of the nation to the abuses of these two major powers. Feeling alienated by everyone around him, especially by his peers, Hedayat’s last published work, The Message of Kafka, bespeaks melancholy, desperation and a sense of doom experienced only by those subjected to discrimination and repression.
Hedayat's most enduring work is the short novel The Blind Owl of 1937. It has been called "one of the most important literary works in the Persian language" (S. A. Qudsi).
He ended his life by gassing himself and is buried in the Père Lachaise.
His work is coming under increasing attack in Europe from political Islamists, and many of his novels (Haji Aqa
in particular) are no longer stocked in some French bookshops and libraries. The novels The Blind Owl
and Haji Aqa
were banned from the 18th Tehran International Book Fair in 2005. The Blind Owl
contains a great deal of Buddhist
imagery. In Haji Aqa
his characters explore the lack of meritocracy
In order for the people to be kept in line, they must be kept hungry, needy, illiterate, and superstitious. If the grocer's child becomes literate, he not only will criticise my speech, but he will also utter words that neither you nor I will understand.... What would happen if the forage-seller's child turns out intelligent and capable—and mine, the son of a Haji, turns out lazy and foolish?
In November 2006, republication of Hedayat's work in uncensored form was banned in Iran
, as part of a sweeping purge. However, surveillance of book-stalls is limited and it is apparently still possible to purchase the originals second-hand. The official website is also still online. Some material discussing the issue of censorship include:
- Item in The Guardian from November 2006
- "City Report: Tehran" from Frieze, issue 86, October 2004, discussing Iranian censorship in general
- Article by Radio Free Europe — Radio Liberty from November 2007
- 1930 Zendé be Gūr (Buried Alive). A collection of 9 short stories.
- 1931 Sāye-ye Moghol (Mongol Shadow)
- 1932 Sé qatré khūn (Three Drops of Blood)
- 1933 Sāyé Roshan (Chiaroscuro)
Alaviyeh Khanum (Madame `Alaviyeh)
Vagh Vagh Sahab (Mister Bow Wow)
- 1937 Būf-e Kūr (The Blind Owl)
- 1942 Sag-e Velgard (The Stray Dog)
- 1944 Velengārī (Tittle-tattle)
Ab-e Zendegi (The Elixir of Life)
- 1945 Hājī Āqā (Mr. Haji)
- 1946 Fardā (Tomorrow)
- 1947 Tupp-e Morvari (The Pearl Cannon)
- Drama (1930-1946)
- Parvin dokhtar-e Sāsān (Parvin, Sassan's Daughter)
- Afsāne-ye Āfarīnesh (The Fable of Creation)
- Esfahān Nesfe Jahān (Isfahan: Half the World)
- Rū-ye Jādeh-ye Namnak (On the Wet Road), unpublished, written in 1935.
- Studies, Criticism and Miscellanea
- Rubaiyat-e Hakim Umar-e Khayyam (Khayyam's Quatrains) 1923
- Ensan va Hayvan (Man and Animal) 1924
- Marg (Death) 1927
- Favayed-e Giyahkhari (The Advantages of Vegetarianism) 1957
- Hekayat-e Ba Natijeh (The Story with a Moral) 1932
- Taranehha-ye Khayyam (The Melodies of Khayyam) 1934
- Chaykuvski (Tchaikovsky) 1940
- Dar Piramun-e Lughat-e Fārs-e Asadi (About Asadi's Persian Dictionary) 1940
- Shiveh-ye Novin dar Tahqiq-e Adabi (A New Method of Literary Research) 1940
- Dāstan-e Naz (The Story of Naz) 1941
- Shivehha-ye Novin Dar She'r-e Parsi (New Trends in Persian Poetry) 1941
- A review of the film "Mulla Nasru'd Din" 1944
- A literary criticism on the Persian translation of Gogol's The Government Inspector 1944
- Chand Nukteh Dar Bar-ye Vis va Ramin (Some Notes on Vis and Ramin) 1945
- Payam-e Kafka (The Message of Kafka) 1948
- al-Be`thatu-Islamiya Ellal-Belad'l Afranjiya (An Islamic Mission in the European Lands), undated.
- Hassan Kamshad, Modern Persian Prose Literature ISBN 0-936347-72-4
- Homa Katouzian, Sadeq Hedayat: Life and legend of an Iranian writer, I.B. Tauris, 2000. ISBN 1-86064-413-9
- Hassan Kamshad, Modern Persian Prose Literature, Ibex Publishers, 1996. ISBN 0-936347-72-4
- Michael C. Hillmann, Hedayat's "The Blind Owl" Forty Years After, Middle East Monograph No. 4, Univ of Texas Press, 1978.
- Iraj Bashiri, Hedayat's Ivory Tower: Structural Analysis of The Blind Owl, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1975.
- Iraj Bashiri, The Fiction of Sadeq Hedayat, Mazda Publishers, 1984.
- Sayers, Carol, The Blind Owl and Other Hedayat Stories, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1984.
- Note: Many of Sadeq Hedayat's full texts can be legally downloaded from here: Mat'n-e Kāmel-e Dāstān-hā
- Photo Gallery of the Official Website of Sadeq Hedayat (highly recommended)
- A Tribute to Sadeq Hedayat
- Sadeq Hedayat's Life by Iraj Bashiri
- Sadeq Hedayat's Corner, further articles and English translations by Iraj Bashiri
- Persian Language & Literature — Sadeq Hedayat
- Hedayat Page (in French)
- Sadegh Hedayat Site (in Persian)
- Sokhan — online literary magazine (in Persian)
- Adabkade (in Persian)
- Hedayat's art work
- Iran Project - Hedayat and the Experience of Modernity
- Sadegh Hedayat's Photo & Gravesite
- Audiobooks (Ketab-e Gooya).
- Tup-e Morvari by Sadeq Hedayat (in Persian), (PDF), (The Iranian).
- Hedayat Family History (in English)
- Mohtāj Rasuli, A Museum That Was Not To Be, in Persian, Jadid Online, 2008,
Shokā Sahrāi, A slide show, with Mr Jahāngir Hedayat [son of General Isā Hedayat, Sadegh Hedayat's brother] speaking, Jadid Online, 2008: (6 min 28 sec).