Sadegh Hedayat

Parisiens: Sadegh Hedayat

The most influential Iranian writer of the 20th century, Sadegh Hedayat arrived in Paris for the first time in 1926 as a dropout from a Belgian civil engineering school; he was allowed to redirect his Iranian state grant to the study of architecture, which failed to stimulate his academic devotion. Over the next few years, he spent time around France, periodically coming back to Paris. In 1930, he left for home. Two decades later, he returned, now the author, among many other works, of the groundbreaking, hallucinatory novel The Blind Owl—but also deeply depressed and alienated from life in Iran under the Shah. Despite the friendship of other emigrés such as Fereydoun Hoveyda, neither his mental nor material circumstances improved. Following his suicide by gas in April 1951, he was buried near such luminaries as Marcel Proust in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery.