Sadeq Hedayat, an Iranian Intellectual

Human history is full of pseudo-intellectuals and intellectual mercenaries that aided politicians and bad guys in controlling and manipulating people. As the wise guys say: “To this day, ‘X’ percent of the so-called intellectuals have been pseudo-intellectuals or intellectual mercenaries. In Iran X = 99%, and in the West, in the best case, X = 90%. The real intellectuals only care about the truth. They are wise, original, and open-minded. Nobody can sell them, and they don’t care about money, power, politics, and low level needs”. In fact, the real intellectuals are very very rare. And Sadeq Hedayat (1903 -1951) is one of these rare creatures. When the Iranian intellects were so stupid and their views were just a pure imitation of others, Sadegh Hedayat could think independently, and felt and saw the socio-political problems of his own time better than others. Hedayat attacked the two major causes of Iran’s destruction, the Monarchy and the Mullahs. When Iranian intellects were hypocrite and Khayemal (ass-kisser), and when many Westerners and their intellects were stupid and praised Capitalism, Marxism, Fascism, or Nazism, Hedayet was wise and struggled against flattery and hypocrisy. In 1937, in a letter to his friend (Minovi) Hedayat wrote: “Youre talking just like everyone else. You think when Europeans describe Goebbels or Hitler as the genius of all times, you should believe it and praise Hitler. But I say, we should spit on the face of Goebbels and Hitler both”. Hedayat can show us that Iranians always could be wise and modern, even more than their Western counterparts. Of course, Hedayat had his own weak points, like other humans. But the younger generations of Iranian intellectuals, that don’t suffer from Hedayat’s weak points, praise him a lot, because he was not stupid in the Age of Stupidity. Sadegh Hedayat was born to an Iranian aristocratic family in Tehran. Many of his family members were ranking state and military officials, both in the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s funny to know that both Hedayat and Khomeini were born in the first years of the 20th century (Khomeini was born in 1900), but they lived in two different planets! In 1915, Hedayat went to Dar ol-Fonoon – the first modern school in Iran that was established in the mid 19th century and had European teachers. He was bad at math, and liked history and literature. His family then registered him at the Saint Louis Academy in Tehran. As his friends said: “In 1925, he was among the first students in Reza Shah’s era that traveled to Europe to continue their studies (Iranian students went to Europe at least since the 1830s). There, he initially went on to study engineering in Belgium, after a year he gave this up to study architecture in France. While there, he gave up architecture to pursue dentistry. And after four years in France and Belgium, he finally surrendered his scholarship and returned home in the summer of 1930 without receiving a degree. In Europe, he abandoned all classic studies to spend his time traveling, sightseeing, and learning what he wants. But he was under pressure to be a ‘normal student’. In 1927, Hedayat attempted suicide by throwing himself into the river Marne, however he was rescued. ‘I jumped into Marne from a bridge, but I didn’t know that a young couple were making love in a boat right under the bridge [!]. They immediately jumped into the river and took me out”, Hedayat told his close friend, Taqi Razavi”. From 1925 to 1930, Hedayat lived in Europe, and could see the differences between Iran and Europe.

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“Hedayat’s letters to his family show us that he was a bad student, and behaved like stupid rich kids. But he was not able to pursue his studies in a field of his choice, and it was the main problem”, some say. Hedayat’s letters to his brothers and his parents were full of stupid complaints about shortage of funds. He was a rich kid, and enjoyed government scholarship and his parents’ money, but he always asked for money, and wanted to buy new clothes and other things. It was his main weak point at that time, but in later years he changed a lot and became a wise man. Back in Tehran, his family tried to persuade him to return to Europe and pursue his studies in a field of his choice, but he refused. It’s unclear why he refused to return to Europe. Maybe, he was tired of Europe. But very soon he was tired of Iran, too. As the wise guys say: “People like him could not, and still can not, live in both Iran and Europe, because many serious problems, including idiocy, fanaticism, hypocrisy, racism, chauvinism, charlatanism, the visa system, politics, etc hurt them a lot”. Unfortunately, if you want to be wise and independent, you can’t live your own life, in where you want and with those you want. The politicians and other bad guys hate the wise and independent people. Of course, Heyadat was so lucky, because he had influential friends and family. In 1930, when Iran and the whole world suffered from a very serious economic crisis, Hedayat had to find a job. But with the help of family and friends, he found a job in Bank Melli (National Bank of Iran). He worked there until 1933, but he hated the job and described it as boring and stupid. He hated all his jobs, and that’s why he changed his job regularly. Hedayat worked at the Department of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affaire, the government construction firm, etc but Hedayat, like today’s Iranians, could not have an intellectual job. It is still a dream for Iranians. Heyadat could not live by writing or doing other intellectual activities. But he wrote his books, including his short stories, and tried to publish some of them by his own money. But censorship was a serious problem. In 1936, Hekmat that was the Minister of Science (Maaref) declared that Hedayat could not publish his works in Iran for 5 years, and Hedayat was forced to sign an official pledge. Reza Kachal (Reza Shah) had become a brutal dictator, and Hedayat wanted to leave the big prison (Iran) by any means. In 1936, at the invitation of an influential friend (Partow), and with the help of his family, Hedayat left Iran and went to Bombay (India), where he wrote and published some of his main works. In India, in a letter to Minovi, Hedayat wrote: “somebody is pimp, and somebody else kisses ass, and till the end of their days they live with honor [!] and enjoy a living from what they do; but [we can’t, and] our shitty life is full of shit and disaster. But at least, I got rid of that rotten shitty cemetery (Iran), and tomorrow can be another day. Here, at least you can find many wise educated people“. Hedayat knew that kissing ass is the main secret of success in Iran and the world, but he could not be an ass-kisser. In a letter to Minovi, he wrote: “I’m really stupid, and bad at kissing ass. If I was able to kiss ass, like other Iranian ass-kissers that have become somebody, I could make a good money here in India. Indians and their Maharajas respect me a lot, but my foolishness led to unnecessary Gondeh Guzi (means ‘big farts’, ‘big claims’, ‘gesture of honors’, etc). I even rejected their train tickets”. It’s funny to know that all great men in human history, lived with some sort of “Gondeh Guzi”! and didn’t sell themselves easily. Anyway, after his return to Persia in 1937, Hedayat drifted between clerical jobs once again until one of his influential friends (Minbashian) chose him to head the secretariat of the newly instituted Office of Music. He was also a member of the editorial board of its journal, Music Journal. In fact, as the wise guys say: “his powerful family and friends always saved him, otherwise Hedayat could not live and work in Iran and died of starvation”. As his friends said: “in 1941, when the UK and Russian attacked Iran and toppled Reza Shah, the Office of Music and its journal were closed down; and Hedayat ended up as a translator at the Faculty of Fine Arts, an insignificant position with little to do that he held for the rest of his life. They didn’t have any thing for translation, and he just went there one hour a day, and got money”. In 1937, before his return to Tehran, the Pahlavi regime arrested some of his leftist friends, and he wrote to Minovi: “Oh, we are forced to live with such a stupid, mean, motherf-u-c-k-er creatures. Such a shitty era, and such a stupid life”. He was right. That era was so shitty and unbearable, like our era. We still are forced to live with many ‘stupid, mean, motherf-u-c-k-er creatures’ ! (Mojudat-e Past-e Ahmagh-e MaderGhahbeh)

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I think Hedayat’s letters are the most important works of him, much more important than his stories. Some love his stories, specially the Blind Owl (1936), but I think Hedayat’s letters are his best works. His short stories, including Mr. Bow Wow (1934) or the Creation Myth (1936), and many other short stories, were not bad, but Hedayat’s letters are the best, and can show us many things about Hedayat, his thoughts and his time. Hedayat’s letters also show us his sense of humor, and why he is one of the best satirist. Hedayat and his close friends lived like today’s Iranians, and their jokes and their language were exactly like what you can see in today’s Iran. Hedayat witty and satirical remarks are really funny, and are among the best in Persian language. But if you want to enjoy Hedayat’s humor, you should know Persian, otherwise you can’t understand his terms, his sarcastic notes, his plays with words, or his funny remarks. You can’t translate Hedayat’s works; the translation can destroy everything. Hedayat and his a few close friends were so funny. Hedayat used many funny terms about his friends and other things. For instance, Hedayat joked with one of his friends, Hassan Qa’emian, and called him “Qonbol Mian” (that you can translate it as “a ready ass in the middle”). If you want to read a good Persian satirical work, you should read Hedayat’s letters, or “the Pearl Cannon” that is like his letters. “Hedayat and his friends gathered in downtown teahouses and cafes, and talked about serious things, and also laughed at the stupid politicians and the stupid and conservative literati, such as Nafisi, Foruzanfar, etc. We were the satellites revolving around him”, his friends said. In fact, Hedayat was not a sad man, as many idiots say. Hedayat saw many horrible problems and spoke about them satirically. Hedayat was a ‘special man’, and you can know him and his time by his letters. Hedayat’s letters to his close friends, including letters to Tagi Razavi, from 1925 to 1932, letters to Mojtaba Minovi, from 1936 to 1944, and letters to Shahid-Nuraei, from 1947 to 1950, not only show his wisdom and his sense of humor, but show many things about Iran and Iranians at that time. Hedayat was wise and honest, and only sought the truth, and these characteristics are defining characteristics of great men. Hedayat knew his own weak points. For instance, he knew that using drugs is stupid, and it’s one of his main weak points. In a letter to Jamalzaeh, Hedayat wrote: “I’m so tired of everything. I just kill days, and every night after doing drugs, I bury myself and spit on my grave. But it’s one of my miracles that next morning I wake up again”. He saw many horrible problems and got depressed, like many other wise guys. “In Hedayat’s era, the life was so hard (for instance, there was no electricity) and so stupid, and Iran and the world were full of illiterate and ignorant people. Hedayat’s views about many things, were like today’s views. But in his own time, he was in the minority”, the wise guys say. In a letter, Hedayat wrote: “Everything is full of shit here. Life, weather, killing time, everything … Today’s weather was so shitty, 37c (100 f) in my room. What can I do in this shitty weather? It’s the gifts of our dear country for us. [Europeans have a lovely summer, but we have a pure hell]. In this hot shitty weather, you can’t leave your house, and you can’t do anything … We went to Shemiran, but again, the hot weather. ‘Bar Pedaresh Lanat’ ! (damn his father; or damn it) … Yesterday, In Razavi’s house, I listened to some Indian ‘Mezghun’ (music), for just getting rid of Iranian music. It was like a freedom message. In the hell, they have such large snakes, that you are forced to take refuge with dragons [!]“. Unfortunately, we still are forced to choose between the great evils. Anyway, Hedayat was honest and humble, and hated empty gestures. In 1945, the Russian Culture House in Uzbekistan, asked Hedayat to write an autobiography of himself, and Hedayat wrote: “I hate talking about myself, as much as I hate the American propaganda. The details of my life is really stupid, and I think talking about your own life is stupid. It reminds me of selling an old donkey in Bazaar, when the seller talk bout the characteristics of the old donkey. My life is not special. I don’t have any special degree. I have not been a special student, and I don’t have any special success. My life is full of failure. My employers always hated me, in a way that when I was resigned, they became very happy [!] The world sees me as a useless pathetic man, and maybe it’s the truth”. Of course, Hedayat was one of the wisest men of his own time. In 1937, he wrote: “We will see a new world War in the near future; God bless the Stone Age, that its people were wiser, and more free and human than this shitty era”. Hedayat was really wiser than many westerner intellects.

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Hedayat had become disgusted with almost every aspect of life in Iran, including music, religious beliefs, customs, people, and political system. He called Iran, among other things, the land of shit (Gandestan), a toilet (Khela), a stinking stifling cemetery. In the past 300 years, Iran has really been a toilet (Khela) and the land of shit (Gandestan). In Hedayat’s era, the Monarchists, the Mullahs, the Mercenaries, and their Western employers had destroyed Iran. Most of people were illiterate and stupid. And the world was so stupid. In these conditions, Hedayat expressed his angers by his own satirical words. He called Europe “Belade Khaj Parastan” (the land of clubs-worshipers) ! In 1950, in a letter to a young friend (Farzad), Hedayat wrote: “In Belade Khaj Parastan, you should learn some new gestures, and if you were so clever, you would marry to a European maid, and then you return to your homeland. And here, if your wife was pretty and attractive, you would progress very rapidly [!]”. Hedayat didn’t marry, and valued freedom from social bonds. As his friends said: “He had affairs with his female friends, but his family could not accept his lifestyle. He was not close to any members of his immediate family. His mother and father loved him, but could not understand him”. Hedayat’s letters to his family, even his last letters in 1951, show that Hedayat, as a member of an aristocratic family, treated his parents like the traditional noblemen. And that’s why some ask: “How Hedayat could refuse to marry, while his family, and almost all Iranians were so traditionalist?“. Jahangir Hedayat, his nephew, says: “Hedayat’s father repeatedly asked him to marry. One day, Hedayat’s father ask a family friend to ask him to marry. That friend talked with him about his father’s request and said his father wants to see his grandchildren. But after some days, Hedayat gave him a cloth that was full of semen, and said: ‘Show him his grandchildren’. And after that time his father didn’t ask him to marry”. As the wise guys say: “Hedayat saw little merit in the institution of marriage, but people could not accept his lifestyle. At that time, most of people in Iran and the world, including Hedayat’s friends and family, cared about the standard life, but If Hedayat didn’t exist, who knew Hedayat’s friends who had a standard life, like ‘Qonbol Mian’ or Hedayat’s brothers, who were political figures? Now, we know Hedayat’s family and friends, only because of their connections with Hedayat, who had a special life”. In fact, the normal life or the standard life can be so stupid and meaningless, if you just want to live like sheep. Hedayat had his own special life, but many idiots still talk nonsense about him. As his friends said: “Hedayat had his own girlfriends and his own affairs with Theress, a French girl (the above pix shows Hedayat, Theress, and her mother), Indian girls, Maryam Firuz, that later became a leader of the Iranian Communists (Tudeh Party) and others. He had fallen in love with two sisters in India”. Jahangir Hedayat, his nephew, says: “Hedayat was Intellectual, not a Hashari (horny thug)! He had affair with some women. He was not a gay, and he was not a Hashari (horny thug)”. In 1951, in one of his last letters, Hedayat wrote to a close friend (Anjavi): “Say hello to that lady, and kiss her on behalf of me, a very big kiss (Mach Kharaki)”. Unfortunately, many idiots still think producing children is the most important job of humans. These idiots talk nonsense about those who don’t want to impose this shitty life on children. Anyway, Hedayat was wise and also funny. In a letter to Minovi, he wrote: “If you can find a lazy job for me, a typical lazy job like this: only 2 hours works per week, plus regular Bendaz (s-e-x); I would make you a popular figure in Iran. Take it serious”.

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Hedayat was wise and rare, while most of his friends and Iranian intellects were so stupid. They loved empty gestures and stupid imitations. But Hedayat was original. His close friends said: “He hated empty gestures. He used to say: Finally, this mater, like most of matters, remained ‘unknown’ for me. He just cared about the truth”. Hedayat was a rich kid, but was not like other rich kids in Iran, who were stupid, hypocrite and Khayemal (ass-kisser) like their families. These jerks, from Forughi and Hoveyda to Bozorg Alawi, Nushin, Firuz, Tabari, etc, were political whores or pseudo-intellectuals. Most of these idiots were members of the Tudeh Party (the Iranian Communists). They became Communist or Marxist, because it was in fashion, but Hedayat criticized both the lefts and the rights, and just care about the truth. For instance, the support of the Tudeh Party for the Soviet-inspired revolt in Azerbaijan in 1945, greatly upset Hedayat, and he openly and strongly attacked the Communists and the Tudeh Party. He had always been a severe and open critic of politicians and fanatics, and his break with the Tudeh intellects, resulting in much personal antagonism and vilification from them. Only a few Iranian intellects, including Dehkhoda and Jamalzadeh, could understand him. Hedayat was a real intellectual, and knew the world and the history. He was not like Jalal Al-e Ahmad or Ali Shariati, the famous Iranian pseudo-intellectuals that the wise Iranians spit on them now. Recently, the Mullah TV showed a documentary movie about Al-e Ahmad, and they made a funny confession: “Those intellects who praised Al-e Ahmad in the past decades, don’t want to talk about him and his [stupid] thoughts any more. They feel a lot of shame. They hate him now”. In fact, the pseudo-intellectuals are straw hero, and sooner or later people know their true face, spit on them and forget them. Hedayat did not join any group and any party. He knew the main problems. In 1947, Hedayat wrote: “the so-called imperialists have converted my country into a big prison“. In fact, our pain and suffering in the recent years is like Hedayat’s pain and suffering. In the past 300 years, the West and its puppets have converted Iran into a big prison. They don’t allow the wise Iranians to leave the big prison (Iran). As the wise guys say: “Hedayat was wise and independent, and that’s why politicians hated him. Hedayat’s the Pearl Cannon was a spit on both politicians and clergymen. Many think Hedayat was anti-religion, but they don’t know that his letters began with ‘Ya Hagh’ (Hi God). In a letter to Shahid Nouraei in 1947, Hedaya wrote about the Pearl Cannon: ‘I want to write something that is like spit [Akh-o-Tof] on them. Maybe, I can’t publish it, but it’s not important. At least they can’t tell themselves ‘he was a stupid; he was a good donkey [good sheep]’. Hedayat saw the main problems of his own time, but now, when all Iranians spit on Mullahs and Islamists, and Iran is full of spit [Akh-o-Tof] on them, the idiots and the Iranian expats try to imitate Hedayat. These bastards don’t know both Hedayat and the main problems”. Hedayat knew the true face of the West and Islamists. As the wise guys say: “When the Islamists started to assassinate the independent thinkers in the 1940s, he knew them and their logic. He used to say: ‘Kasi ke az Khodaye Joon Dade Natarse, az Bande Koon Dadash Nemitarse” (Those who have no fear of God, don’t have any fear of his men (the faggots), too). He knew that Islamists and other fanatics can not solve their legitimacy crisis by killing others”. We have already written about Fanatics logic and Islamists logic in Iran. “If you express your views or your thoughts, they will kill you, or they will torture you to accept their views or what they want, and then they call it ‘free discussion’ or ‘Islamic freedom’ !”. In his last years, i.e. in the dark years after the world war II, he could not live in Iran any longer, and tried to flee from Iran by any means, but Europe was full of shit, too. In 1951, Hedayat wrote [to Anjavi]: “I’m not happy here (in France). But I’m sorry why I could not flee from that shitty country sooner “.

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“I’m not in the mood for complaint and ‘Chos Naleh’; I can’t deceive myself any longer; [My life in Iran] is like a disgusting imprisonment in a dirty, shameless, motherf-u-c-k-er prison. There is no escape”, Hedayat wrote in a letter to Jamalzadeh in 1948. Hedayat badly wanted to leave the big prison (Iran), but they didn’t allow him. In his last years, he was disappointed at this shitty world. In a letter, he wrote: “Even I don’t want to travel, and that old zeal for traveling to Europe has been killed in my heart. I don’t care about this illusion any longer. I just bury my days, one after another, without any regret. All things in our shitty country belong to special people. Joy, happiness, travel, all things”. It’s funny to know when you read Hedayat’s last letters, you think he lives in today’s Iran! In 1948, in a letter to Shahid-Nuraei, he wrote: “Only the kids of crooks, thieves, and spies can go to the West, not us. All doors are closed, and I don’t want to deceive myself“. The Shah regime didn’t allow Hedayat to leave Iran. In 1947, he was invited to a conference in Paris, but he was not allowed to leave Iran. And in 1944, in his last letter to Minovi, he wrote: “Like that illusion of that blind person, I thought and worked for getting passport and visa and traveling to ‘Belad Khaj Parastan‘ (Europe), but it was not allowed”. In 1948, in a letter to Shahid-Nuraei, he wrote: “In these days, in this shitty country, all things are so stupid and ridiculous. You even can’t laugh at it. I try to find a way to get a visa, and a leave with salary”. As his friends said: “When his brother in Law (Razmara) became the prime minister, and his brother (Mahmoud) became the deputy PM, his close friends managed to get him a four-month leave of absence from Tehran University on medical grounds. They were forced to use fake documents. The Khayemals (ass-kissers) that hated Hedayat – including Siasi, the president of Tehran University- stopped hurting him for a while, because of Razmara. Hedayat did not participate in his family’s social life, and just saw Razmara once a year, during Nowruz (the new year). But the Khayemals didn’t know this, and his friends used his family’s influence to solve his problems”. Finally, Hedayat sold his books and left for Paris at the end of 1950, hoping that he would find a job somewhere in Europe and stay there with the help of friends. But his hopes were quickly dashed. “It was difficult to obtain a residency permit for France or to obtain a visa for other Western countries, including Switzerland, where Jamalzadeh lived; and the possibility of going to London, where Farzad resided, failed to materialize”, his friends said. The stupid visa system in the West hurt Iranians like today. In a letter, Hedayat wrote: “Visay Shiayan Ali (visa for the Shiite [Iranians]) has a stupid story”. Even in today’s world, “Visay Shiayan Ali” (visa for Iranians) has a stupid and shameful story. The stupid West is still as stupid as before. In his last months, Hedayat had nothing but bad luck. He hoped that his close friend, Shahid-Nuraei that was a senior Persian diplomat in Paris, would be able to help him to find a job there, but Shahid-Nuraei was terminally ill. Hedayat’s European friends, including French scholar Henri Massé, that just praised him after his death, could not secure a job for him when we was alive. His friends said: “He unsuccessfully tried to have his leave extended. His medical leave ended in April 1951. He had no jobs or permits to enable him to stay in Europe, and the remainder of his money could only sustain him for a short period. It made him seek refuge in alcohol and drugs. Moreover, his brother-in-law (Razmara) was assassinated in March 1951. And when his family lost their political power again, the Khayemals (ass-kissers) and his friends forgot him. [Those years were years of war and assassination. In 1948, the Tudeh party tried to assassinate the fledgling Shah. And in 1951, the Islamists assassinate Razmara]. Hedayat had many friends, both Iranian and European, in Europe. But they didn’t help him before his death. They were not real friends, and only after his death they tried to make use of his name. He had no jobs and permits, and he didn’t want to return to the big prison (Iran). On 9 April 1951, he committed suicide by gassing himself in a small rented apartment on 37 Rue Championnet. He placed the money for his grave and his burial, in his side wallet in plain view. He didn’t want that even his dead body returned to Iran. He was buried at the division 85 of Père Lachaise cemetery”. His stay in Paris lasted four months, and Hedayat tried hard to stay in Europe, but the stupid Western system was as stupid as the Iranian system. “I am tired of this shitty world and this shitty life. I pass the night in a situation much worse than that of a sentenced criminal. I am tired of life. Nothing gives me incentive or comfort, and I cannot deceive myself any longer. A gap has severed the line of communication between life, circumstances, etc., and me. We cannot understand each other any more”, Hedayat wrote in a letter. Hedayat was a stranger in his own homeland, and also in the West. All politicians hated him, because he was wise, honest and frank. The Pahlavi regime, the Mullah regime, and the West hated Hedayat, because he was a real intellectual and didn’t sell his soul. Unfortunately, the real intellectuals still live like a stranger in their own homeland and in this shitty world. It’s really shameful.

For more information:

[ Unfortunately, almost all online resources about Sadegh Hedayat are unacceptable. In 2010, Jahangir Hedayat, Hedayat’s nephew, said that the US shut down Sadeq Hedayat’s official website
(http://www.sadeghhedayat.info/). I don’t know why they closed down a non-political and literary website, but apparently, the wise and independent guys should be silenced even after their deaths ! ]

[1] Iranica’s articles about Hedayat .
[2] “Sedeq Hedayat’s Letters”, a book by Baharlo that is a good collection of Hedeyat’s letters and his friends’ recollections about him. [3] “Sedeq Hedayat: 82 letters to Hassan Shahid Nuraei”, a book by Pakdaman, that is about Hedeyat’s letters to Shahid Nuraei.
[4] English translations of some of Hedayat’s stories .

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