The Blind Owl (1937) (in Persian: بوف کور Boof-e koor) is Sadeq Hedayat's most enduring work of prose and a major literary work of 20th century Iran. Written in Persian, it tells the story of a painter 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 shadow, which resembles an owl, and which listens to his confessions.
Iraj Bashiri, one of the two English translators of The Blind Owl, comments about the atmosphere of Hedayat's works: "The translation and the analysis of the works of Sadeq Hedayat occupied me for over ten years. That was some twenty years ago. It is wonderful that time heals what Times bring us. Otherwise, life itself would become the burden Hedayat speaks about. Hedayat's is a dark world when you are in it. It haunts you for some time after you leave it. Eventually, however, it leaves you alone, if you leave it alone.»
The Blind Owl was written during the oppressive latter years of Reza Shah's rule (1925-1941). It was originally published in a limited edition in Bombay, during Hedayat's 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.