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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Friday, February 19, 2016

A horror classic from the pov of a delusional man

Sadegh Hedayat's short novel from the early 1940s, The Blind Owl, is considered a horror classic and  it may be so. I'm about halfway through. It's narrated by a very strange solitary man, something like a Kafka narrator but more odd and menacing. In the first section he tells us that he is sufffering from a disease that is destroying his brain and he is writing this manuscript so that we understand. He suggests that he lives outside of himself and the actual person is a shadow in the wall. He talks of the gulf or chasm that separates him from all of humanity - in short a fairly typical outsider narrator in the tradition of Dostoyevsky's underground man. We learn the his profession so to speak is illustrating pen cases, whatever they are, and all of his illustrations reproduce a scene that involves a beautiful woman by a stream. One day he looks thru an aperture in the wall of his apt and sees the woman. He is in love, and Perseus her to no avail but unexpectedly she turns up on his doorstep. He invites her in, serves her a drink from a decanter of old wine and in the night she dies. He cuts her body into pieces, puts them into a suitcase, and sets off to bury her in a remote spot. Ok - it doesn't take long before we realize the perversity of his story and look at it from outside of his consciousness - he has killed a woman and mutilated her body and then disposed of her. How long before the police are on the scene? It's a narrative told by a delusional and dangerous man but is so convincing from his point of view that we almost disbelieve the horror of what he has actually done.

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