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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books…

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (2003)

by Azar Nafisi

Other authors: Marie-Hélène Dumas (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,857242259 (3.61)425
  1. 91
    Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (Eustrabirbeonne, kgodey)
  2. 80
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (hsanch)
    hsanch: A parallel kind of story. Fundamentalist's come in many flavors and women often get the short end. A chilling a well-paced tale.
  3. 40
    A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (readerbabe1984)
  4. 30
    The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (bertilak)
  5. 31
    Things I've Been Silent About: Memories by Azar Nafisi (AuraNefertari)
  6. 10
    Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir by Marina Nemat (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Non-fiction: teenager sentenced to death for 'political crimes' in 1982, but who lived to tell her story.
  7. 10
    Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour (the_awesome_opossum)
  8. 21
    The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad (unlucky)
  9. 00
    Jews Without Money by Michael Gold (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: The work that inspired Azar Nafisi's political thinking in relation to literature.
  10. 00
    Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Another woman's experience in Iran, albeit more sensational.
  11. 00
    The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi (kerryperry42)
  12. 12
    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (readerbabe1984)
  13. 01
    Dentelles et tchador : La vie dans l'Iran des mollahs by Armin Arefi (Eustrabirbeonne)

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» See also 425 mentions

English (234)  Italian (5)  Spanish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All (242)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this memoir of life in Iran, told in the context of Western literature. I'll admit, I did get lost in the vast cast of characters and the political situation, not to mention the in-depth literary discussions. But it was fascinating to learn more about life under the veil for Iranian women at the end of the last century. And some of the prose was just beautiful, it touched me deeply. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
female teacher in Iran is forced out of her teaching position. She starts a literature study group for young women in her home. It's real. The meaning and power these women find in selected works of Western literature will stick with you. Also the real life description of what women lived with in Tehran in the 1980s is an education in itself ( )
  margaretfield | May 30, 2018 |
I'm not sure why I didn't finish this the first time I started it - it just wasn't the right time I guess. Second around 7 years later I enjoyed it more. There is interesting discussion of the literature, but all in the context of the author's life in Iran, and that of her students. So it both made me think more deeply about the books discussed (and made me possibly consider giving Henry James another go), but also gave a perspective on living in Iran in the mid 90s. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Mar 5, 2018 |
In many ways this is a remarkable book. The author gives us an inside view of the frightening changes in Iran after the ouster of the shah, and weaves that view in with analyses of several of her favorite English-language authors, whose books she used when teaching literature in Tehran. She also tells the stories of several of her students. A brilliant structure, and yet I found her style to be so cool and removed that I couldn't really feel much emotional response, which for me was a drawback. Still, it's worth reading for the quality of the writing and for the firsthand experience of an educated, progressive woman in that environment. ( )
  meredk | Dec 28, 2017 |
A professor of English Literature lives through the Iranian Revolution of 1979 with several of her students. Azar Nafisi narrates her life as a professor at Tehran University in the 1970's. As conservative Islam slowly takes over the culture, she invites several of her advanced students to her home to discuss books she is no longer allowed to teach. We get literary analysis, along with narrative about the various experiences these women have as their lives are changed, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but always more narrowly. I was on the edge of my seat anticipating how each of these women would emerge from the Revolution. ( )
  CDWilson27 | Dec 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
The charismatic passion in the book is not simply for literature itself but for the kind of inspirational teaching of it which helps students to teach themselves by applying their own intelligence and emotions to what they are reading.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Paul Allen (Sep 13, 2003)
[A]n eloquent brief on the transformative powers of fiction--on the refuge from ideology that art can offer to those living under tyranny, and art's affirmative and subversive faith in the voice of the individual.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Times, Michiko Kakutani (Mar 15, 2003)
A spirited tribute both to the classics of world literature and to resistance against oppression.
added by jburlinson | editKirkus (Feb 15, 2003)

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nafisi, Azarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dumas, Marie-HélèneTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flothuis, MeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García de la Hoz, María LuzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lambert, J. K.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To whom do we tell what happened on the Earth, for whom we place everywhere huge Mirrors in the hope that they will be filled up And will stay so? -Czeslaw Milosz, "Annalena"
In memory of my mother, Nezhat Nafisi
for my father, Ahmad Nafisi,
and my family: Bijan, Negar and Dara Naderi.
First words
In the fall of 1995, after resigning from my last academic post, I decided to indulge myself and fulfill a dream.
What we search for in literature is not much reality but the epiphany of truth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 081297106X, Paperback)

An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes.

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:41 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Prof. Nafisi resigned from her job as professor of English Literature at a university in Tehran in 1995 due to repressive government policies. For the next 2 years, until she left Iran, she gathered 7 young women, former students, at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss works of Western literature forbidden by the new regime. They used this forum to learn to speak freely, not only about literature, but also about the social, political, and cultural realities of living under strict Islamic rule.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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