HEDAYAT CENTENARY CONFERENCE
Theatre, St. Antony's College, Middle East Centre, 68 Woodstock
Road, Oxford OX2 6JF.
28-29 March 2003.
The Iran Heritage Foundation ,
Oxford University Oriental Institute, and
St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.
Cultural Heritage Institute, and
Awards for All.
Sadeq Hedayat was born
in February 1903 in Tehran and committed suicide in Paris in
1951. He is the author of The
Blind Owl, the most famous Persian novel both in Iran and in
Europe and America. Many of his short stories are in a critical
realist style and are regarded as amongst some of the best
written in 20th century Iran.
But his most original contribution was the use of
modernist, more often surrealist, techniques in Persian fiction.
Thus, he was not only a great writer, but also the founder of
modernism in Persian fiction as well.
both Hedayat’s life and his death came to symbolise much more
than leading writers would normally claim. His personality and
psychological moods, his intellectual flare, his cultural
values, his social rebelliousness towards virtually every
established order in society including that of the opposition,
and, ultimately, his sense of alienation from existence itself,
placed him in a unique position among modern Iranian
intellectuals. He emerged as an embodiment of the most
sophisticated – but also the least patient and most radical
– social and cultural Europeanism of his time. He still towers
over modern Persian fiction. And he will remain a highly
controversial figure so long as the clash of the modern and the
traditional, the Persian and the European, and the religious and
the secular, has not led to a synthesis and a consensus.
centenary conference will serve several purposes, the most
obvious being to celebrate the 100th anniversary of
Hedayat’s birth. It will bring together leading critics and scholars of
Persian literature from Iran, Europe and the United States to
discuss different aspects of Hedayat’s life, work and legacy:
The social and literary environment in which he grew up, the
turbulent years after the Constitutional Revolution, which at
the same time saw the blossoming of modern and later modernist
Persian literature both in prose and poetry, followed by the
lull of the 1930s and war and disruption in the 40s; his
important contribution to the development of the modern Persian
short story; his realist fiction about the lives of the
traditional urban classes; his verbal and dramatic satire; his
introduction of modernist fiction to Persian literature, and his
role in the establishment of the simple and unblemished prose in
fictional as well as formal writing.
Thus, the conference will incidentally discuss the
social, political, cultural as well as literary developments in
Iran in the first half of the 20th century, a process
which, in terms of Hedayat’s life, began with the
Constitutional Revolution and ended with the nationalisation of
Iranian oil, started with Dehkhoda and Jamalzadeh and ended with
Hedayat’s own life.
A selection of the papers presented at the conference will be
published subsequently in a volume to be edited by Homa
25 Pounds, 15 Pounds concessions.
020 7493 4766.