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Sadegh Hedayat et les écrivains occidentaux

by Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani

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This book is for people interested in the relationship between modern Iran and the West in the field of literature, for whom the name of Sadegh Hedayat, a pioneer of modern Iranian literature, immediately comes to mind. His work, his style, and his life attest to the attraction exerted on the Western culture.
Hedayat spent several years of his youth in Europe, especially in France, and it is in the French language in which he acquired the culture that allowed him, in most cases, access to world literature.

Hedayat then was introduced to the contemporary literature of Europe, and when he would discover the works of the most skeptical and anxious writers of the West, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and others who strongly influenced his thinking and his life.

Herself, nourished by Iranian culture, French, Persian, and Western literature , Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani tried to show in her book the similarities between Sadegh Hedayat and some Western writers, while demonstrating their singularities. For this, she drew on the works of Hedayat and in those of some Western writers to find traces of the philosophical influence, literary, and even personal life and work of Sadegh Hedayat.

Finally, this book is a comparative study on the influence of Western literature on one of the greatest Iranian writers . Through arguments based on quotations and references, as well as the analysis of selected works, the author attempts to highlight the curious affinities that bind Sadegh Hedayat and some pessimistic philosophers and nonconformists.
Sadegh Hedayat and Western writers ; according to the author of the book

Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani (married name: Ansari) is a university professor and the author of the French book « Sadegh Hedayat and Western Writers » that was recently published in Paris by Methodologica Universitas. She has been living in Miami (United States of America) since 1997, and she speaks French, Persian, and English. Prior to her residence in the United States of America, she was also a professor of French literature at the University of Allameh Tabatabai and University of Azad in Tehran for four years.
We asked Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani a few questions about her life and her book:

Tell us about yourself, your background, and your passions.
Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani : I was born in Tehran, Iran. When I was eight years old, my family and I temporarily moved to Switzerland for my father’s profession at the time, and I spent my childhood in Geneva, Switzerland, where I learned the French language. After I came back to Iran, I attended Razi High School (Le Lycée Razi), which was an international school in Tehran during the Shah dynasty; therefore, it is from my childhood that I became familiar with the European and Persian cultures. I did all of my higher education in France at the University of Burgundy (Université de Bourgogne) in Dijon where I studied in the field of humanities (Lettres Modernes), and I specialized in French and comparative literature. After I completed my studies in France, I returned to Tehran, and for four years, I taught as a professor of French literature at University of Allameh Tabatabai and University of Azad. In regards of my passions, I admire the Persian and French cultures and literature. My two other passions that make me happy, fulfilled, and balanced are teaching and writing, which have resulted in my teaching at universities and colleges for twenty-one years (before in Iran and currently, in the United States of America).
What is the genre of your book?
Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani : My book, which is based on the literary comparisons of European, American, and Middle-Eastern ideologies and philosophies, is a literary critisme.
Overall, what is the main theme of your book?
Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani : The main theme of my book is the influence of some Western writers on the life and works of Sadegh Hedayat, one of the most famous Iranian writers of the 20th century. In my book, after having read and analyzed selected books in three languages (French, Persian, and English), I have tried to show the affinities between Sadegh Hedayat and some nonconformist Western philosophers and writers (such as Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse, Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Baudelaire, Fedor Dostoïevski, etc.), while demonstrating their singularities and uniqueness.
Why did you decide to write a book about Western and Persian literature?
Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani : Primarily, it is my love for Iran and France that has led me to write this book; however, I also had the opportunity to write this book about comparative literature. Prior to my residence in the United States of America, when I was a university professor in Iran, circa 1994, the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France in Tehran awarded me a short-term scholarship; therefore, due to this opportunity, I was able to pursue a research work in the field of Persian and European studies, specifically comparative literature.
Among all Iranian writers, why did you choose Sadegh Hedayat? Also, what are your favorite authors in Western literature?
Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani : I chose Sadegh Hedayat because when I was twenty-five years old, I read «The Blind Owl» by Sadegh Hedayat for the first time. I was deeply fascinated by this masterpiece that I decided to read all of his other works as well, thus gradually forming the passion of mine for his works. On the other hand, Sadegh Hedayat’s works are truly authentic and enigmatic, yet perplexing at the same time. Along with Sadegh Hedayat, I read and have admired the works of Franz Kafka, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse, Rainer Maria Rilke, Fedor Dostoïevski, Edgar Allan Poe, and other skeptical writers of the West when I was a university student. In fact, it was these authors that helped me understand the mind of Sadegh Hedayat. Furthermore, I tried to find and to show the origin of the pessimistic worldview of Sadegh Hedayat, along with other Western writers, through my book to help readers better understand these types of authentic and beautiful works.
For what purpose did you publish your book? What was your goal?
Firouzeh Mortazi-Tehrani : I published my research work to share my knowledge in this area with all those who are interested in the Persian culture and literature, especially in contemporary Persian literature. On the other hand, I am very dedicated to my homeland, Iran, and therefore, by publishing my book, I wanted to highlight the Persian culture and literature abroad and contribute to the development of Iranian studies in France, or even Europe. Finally, I thought that my book could be a beneficial, educational tool for all the students studying in the field of Iranian and comparative literature, or just for all those who admire Sadegh Hedayat and his masterpieces.
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