The Blind Owl - Sadegh Hedayat
As other readers have noted, the beginning of this novel reads like some pages from Edgar Allen Poe. It is the narration of a hyper-imaginative, morbidly sensitive man, as he tells what he claims is the story of his last months, dreamlike, obsessively repetitive, and full of wild, mystical ideas, which constantly contradict each other and switch from the heights of exaltation to the pits of horror within a sentence. The only other characters are a horrible old man (playing many roles) and an ethereal woman, who seems desirable and untouchable, sometimes inspiring and sometimes reproachful, and who is transfigured by death… Then the narration breaks off and the same man begins to tell his story over again, in a less phantasmagorical but equally hysterical form. Now every detail of the first version returns again and again, but metamorphosed into brutally sordid forms; now it becomes clear, not exactly what the “real” story of this man’s life is, but rather just how he’s dominated by sexual shame, contempt for everyone, and frustrated lust; this may be one of the most complete portraits of a narcissistic personality ever written. Perhaps he’s dying of some disease; at any rate, he sees corruption everywhere, within and without. It makes for an unpleasant but compulsively readable novel.