Monash University

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Whereof Literature Cannot Speak: Transcendental Blasphemy in Samuel Beckett's The Unnamable and Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl

posted on 2021-04-16, 08:04 authored by ELHAM JALALI KARVEH
Blasphemy is traditionally understood as uttering specific propositions which are taken to be offensive to God or to religion. My research challenges this definition through close readings of Samuel Beckett’s novel The Unnamable, and Sadegh Hedayat’s novel The Blind Owl. I introduce the term ‘transcendental blasphemy’, which considers whether traditional blasphemy is even possible in a given literary world. I prove that in these two novels traditional blasphemy is impossible, and the novels themselves are both pious and radically blasphemous at the same time. This provides a new account of literary blasphemy in complex texts.


Principal supervisor

Christopher Mark Watkin

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Language, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts