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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 4, 2008
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Threaded into the memoir are trenchant discussions of the work of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors who provided the women with examples of those who successfully asserted their autonomy despite great odds. The great works encouraged them to strike out against authoritarianism and repression in their own ways, both large and small: "There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom," she writes. In short, the art helped them to survive. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The author, now living in the US, tells of almost two decades in Iran, as a teacher of English and American literature. She tells of the great hopes for reform after the fall of the Shah and the return from exile of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and with her we watch in horror as the revolution takes Iran by force instead into its medieval past. There are arrests, murders, and executions and those who can, flee to the West. The transformation of Iran is charted by the repressive attempts to make women invisible, by covering them in public from head to toe. It becomes a world in which wearing fingernail polish, even under gloves, is a punishable offense. And punishment, as we learn, is typically brutal.
The author escapes from this violence into the imaginative world of Western novels (from Nabokov to Dashiell Hammet) where she finds democratic ideals expressed in fiction's ability to help us empathize with other people. For her, it is the heart that has gone out of the gun-wielding moral police that want to sweep away all but complete submission to their fundamentalist form of Islam. And while she is a teacher, she must deal with classes filled with students who have been polarized by the political forces around them. All, curiously, are in single agreement that the West is corrupt and absolutely evil.Read more ›
She considers herself an intellectual. She marched against the west and the USA support of the Shah of Iran. She tells of the joy that she and her colleagues felt at his fall. She tells of the changes in everyday life for intellectuals and for women as the Islamists took over the country. She left her job at the university (a job that she loved) because she refused to wear the veil. She tells of the effects of the eight year long Iraq/Iran war on the women of Tehran, the tyranny of the religious leaders who issue their decrees as though they came directly from God.
Nafisi's story is one of change, tyranny, fascism, and the failure in the 20th century to defend women when their identity and their humanity are stolen in the name of religion. It is also the story of personal courage, intelligence, commitment, and love.
Nafisi lead a book discussion group for a select group of women in her home in Tehran before leaving Iran. The forbidden fruit that they read was Lolita, Pride and Prejudice, Daisy Miller, and the Great Gatsby! They risked so much to do this; they risked imprisonment, beatings, rape, and perhaps execution.
She tells her story and some of the stories of her students through these group discussions. She has changed the name of the women that are still alive to protect them. She tells one of her student's stories. While in prison she knew of guards who repeatedly raped a young beautiful girl. They justified this punishment because their heinous acts would deny her access to heaven.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. Although it is difficult at times given the content of life as a woman in Iran from the 1970s until 1997, it is so worth the read. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Lisa Montanaro
Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and very informative, offering the reader a close and personal perspective of that tumultuous decade in Iran that would ordinarily not be... Read morePublished 15 days ago by JB Speck
Excellent book. I just bought a second copy for former neighbors from Iran.Published 16 days ago by Doctor Judith
This author, born in Iran, spent time in other countries, then returned to Iran just prior to the revolution in 1979. Read morePublished 18 days ago by R. Marten
Every single human should read this, now more than ever. Brilliant tale of triumph and resilience, womanhood and education.Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
I thought this was an excellent book and disagree with all the naysayers. This clearly gives you an insight into what these and other women go through living in a country where... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lynn A.