Sadeq Hedayat Through Some of His Personal Letters

The article, which is mostly based on a survey of 82 letters written by Sadeq Hedayat to his closest friend, Hasan Shahid Noura’i and compiled in an annotated volume, is an attempt to discover new factors which might have contributed to Hedayat’s depressive state of mind. According to the author, although Hedayat’s melancholy and pessimistic world view are abundantly reflected in most of his short stories, the newly published letters shed more light on the psyche and personality of this most celebrated and influential of Iran’s modern writers. The author suggests that it was not only the impact of generally depressive social and political conditions in Iran, but also Hedayat’s own inner demons that gradually drove him to ever deepening state of depression.

Hedayat’s fascination with death and his suicidal tendencies were already evident in his early writings beginning with Ensan va Heyvan [Man and Beast], Ruba’iyyat-e Khayyam and Zendeh be Gur [Buried Alive]. However, it is in these published letters, the author believes, that Hedayat’s deep feelings of despair and ennui are revealed. The daily routine of a nearly solitary life, and the hardship of living in a barely furnished and poorly ventilated room in his father’s home, all seem to have deepened Hedayat’s innate cynicism. His short and cursory involvement in Iranian leftist politics merely increased his revulsion towards politicians and politics, Iranian style.

The letters also reveal, according to the author, that Hedayat’s mistrust and low esteem of Iranians as a whole did not spare a number of celebrated Iranian writers and intellectuals of his time. In a language often blunt and at times scathing, he berates some of his contemporaries, including Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, Mojtaba Minovi and Bijan Jalali, for their perceived follies and foibles.

Iraj Parsinejad
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