Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003)

by Azar Nafisi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,143227282 (3.61)402

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 402 mentions

English (219)  Italian (4)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (227)
Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
Read this, please. Yes, there was education and culture before the Taliban. Yes, religious oppression exists, but there are always brave souls who resist and endure, and by doing so they rise above the oppression. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, Camille Kingsolver
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
An interesting story and its good to know something about Iran. But, it was a chore. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
The story of Iranian women's experiences under a totalitarian regime, told in a straightforward manner but supplemented by metaphors drawn from the Western literary canon. The author Azar Nafisi is well capable of this approach, given her Western education and background as a professor of English literature at Tehran University. Her story begins with an illicit reading group comprised of former students who met in her home in the mid-1990s, but soon moves back in time to cover her life in Iran from 1979 onward, relating the gradual tightening of controls over the country's population under Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors. The timeline becomes muddied in places, but for the most part it is chronological.

Through its clear prose and inviting method, this work has completely changed my image of Iran, its history and its people. I've long imagined Iran's people as hardline, but here the author describes 'Death to America' chants staged for western cameras by Iranian citizens forced or paid to participate. The Iranian Revolution was not an overnight success, resorting to force and murder in overcoming numerous protests and demonstrations by its unbelieving citizens, who even then did not foresee all that was coming: "To think that the universities could be closed down seemed as far-fetched as the possibility that women would finally succumb to wearing the veil."

I derived the most benefit from the portions offering critical study of various classic novels. Magic happens when Western literature is interpreted through the eyes of these Iranian women, providing great insight into their society through the parallels drawn. Humbert Humbert's oppression of Lolita is likened to the totalitarian regime they suffer under; moral stances in The Great Gatsby are equated with the revolutionaries; the women of Henry James' novels serve as models for quiet defiance, etc. I'd strongly recommend having read the titles most closely studied in advance (or else you won't need to): Lolita, Invitation to a Beheading, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Miller, Washington Square, and Pride & Prejudice. ( )
  Cecrow | Feb 2, 2016 |
Good concept, but somehow couldn't bring myself to finish it before I took it back to the library. I only had a couple chapters to read, but I found myself not interested in seeing how the book ended.

Maybe another time.. ( )
  elle-kay | Jan 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 219 (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 (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Azar Nafisiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flothuis, MeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

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 8 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
696 avail.
81 wanted
3 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.61)
0.5 7
1 61
1.5 15
2 190
2.5 38
3 541
3.5 143
4 748
4.5 67
5 399


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,851,676 books! | Top bar: Always visible