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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books…

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Azar Nafisi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,093245366 (3.61)431
Title:Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Authors:Azar Nafisi
Info:Random House (2003), Paperback, 347 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi (2003)

  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
    Jews Without Money by Michael Gold (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: The work that inspired Azar Nafisi's political thinking in relation to literature.
  7. 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.
  8. 21
    The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad (unlucky)
  9. 10
    Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour (the_awesome_opossum)
  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 431 mentions

English (237)  Italian (5)  Spanish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (245)
Showing 1-5 of 237 (next | show all)
‎I've been planning to read this book for a few years now. I think the main reason is not lack of time (which I certainly lack), but rather the fact that I don't read books that have almost no plot but knowledge mixed with some emotions.
And I think my mistake is also the slip of many other people who actually read the book and expected to get something else.

This book is neither fiction nor captivating. This is an interesting title for those who come to learn the classical literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Reading the book armed with this understanding will make you enjoy the writer's excellent analysis. I didn't implement these tip; so that finally I came to read the book, I did this for almost two months, trying to complete literary gaps that I lacked so that I could enjoy the book to the end. ( )
  IVOLOKITA | May 28, 2019 |
A memoir of the author's time spent teaching modern Western classics in Iran at a time when they were forbidden. This book had several layers of interest for me. First and foremost, was the opportunity to see the women under the chador as the individuals they are. To find out that they have voices, intelligence and opinions just like the rest of us. Second, to learn about how these modern Western works of fiction were understood and interpreted by a people who are so different in their beliefs and politics from Western culture. Third, the insight into how a people can desire change in their government, put their whole hearts and soul into that change, and then see it go so terribly wrong. Fourth, the author's insight into the novels themselves, the strength she gained from them, and her growth and survival as an individual in a political and religious climate which desired to remove her individuality.

I have only read The Great Gatsby, and some of the works of Jane Austen, of the authors mentioned by Nafisi. At first I thought that would be a big drawback, but I found that she described and illuminated the characters and settings of the novels she spoke about in such a way that I did not feel in the dark. I did find it difficult to follow her timeline. This memoir is set up like memories, characters and events are somewhat fluid, so if you are looking for a detailed history of the changes and revolution in Iran during the 1990s, this isn't it. If you are wondering how that revolution affected the people who lived through it, at least the educated ones in the cities and at the universities, this is it. ( )
  MrsLee | Dec 10, 2018 |
From 1995-97 in Iran, Azar Nafisi gathered with seven of her former students, all young women, to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. Reserved at first, the women soon learned to speak their minds and share their repressed dreams.
  JRCornell | Dec 8, 2018 |
Our first title for the 2018-19 Book Club year. We read this as a "must read" in non-western literature and spent the time discussing the comparisons of loss of freedoms to the current American political trends. The authors parallels to these issues continue to be relevant. ( )
  Bibliofemmes | Oct 15, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 237 (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.
Last words
(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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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