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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books…
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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (original 2003; edition 2008)

by Azar Nafisi (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,309270427 (3.62)472
This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. They were unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Nafisi's account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl or protests and demonstrations. Azar Nafisi's tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran.… (more)
Member:Thebeautifulsea
Title:Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Authors:Azar Nafisi (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2008), Edition: Reissue, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

Work Information

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 472 mentions

English (260)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (268)
Showing 1-5 of 260 (next | show all)
“Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.”
― Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Sorry but this was a DNF for me and several members of my book club. I liked the subject matter and had been looking forward to reading it but it was all over the place and jumped around to much for my tastes. ( )
  Thebeautifulsea | Aug 5, 2022 |
Wonderful. ( )
  ZannaZori | Aug 3, 2022 |
Powerfully moving story. ( )
  BurrowK | Jul 31, 2022 |
his book is a series of reminisces of Nafisi's life as a professor of literature in Iran. It is a fascinating view into the life of a woman who was unsatisfied with the life she was forced to lead there. Just as important as her life is the life of her students and their reactions to the books she had them read. Nafisi also conveys that the tragedy of the laws, at least as applied to women, is that they tried to erase individual personalities. Reading Lolita in Tehran was a good and, at times, emotionally challenging book.
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
28. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
reader: the author
published: 2003
format: 17:36 audible audiobook (356 pages in paperback)
acquired: May 11 listened : May 11 – Jun 10
rating: 4½
genre/style: Memoir theme: random audio
locations: Tehran 1979-1995
about the author: Iranian-American author born in Tehran in 1948. She studied abroad from age 13 and emigrated to the US in 1997.

Nafisi, who claims decent of 800 years of Nafisi family writers, was educated abroad from age 13. She returned to Iran in 1979 to teach English literature, just in time for the Islamic Revolution and its associated dystopian oppression. She had some protectors, a spouse with a stable income, and she was mostly able to continue to teach within the Islamic Republic, despite all its insane treatment of women and its censorship and hatred of the west. When she was prohibited from teaching, she started her private reading group of former students, and they started with reading Lolita.

She had quite an experience, and the book covers it all - the revolution, street riots, arrests, executions, invasive law enforcement and its intense focus on preventing women from committing the sin of doing anything or appearing an anyway that might possibly make any young man aroused, and also constant bombing by Iraqi bombers. Meanwhile she taught, kept teaching, had children, and kept reading. Her students would be arrested at demonstrations, or even on vacation, and then tortured in unknown ways, and sometimes summarily executed. Her colleagues faced the same threats, some executed on the roadside. And she processed it all through literature. If you believe her take, she was very bold. During the early uncertain swings in the revolution she had her class put [The Great Gatsby] on trial, the revolutionary students prosecuting, and other students defending, and she played the defendant, the book. Her literary critiques become commentaries on the repression of this Islamic revolution - insightful to both it and to the books. (Beyond Nabokov and Fitzgerald, she also has a theme on Henry James and Jane Austen - actually it was Austen who led to her reading group).

Certainly, her literary take is unique, and tied to these experiences, and amplified by them. These English classics become far more intense for her and her students than for any normal reader. A well-quoted line struck me near the end. Shortly before leaving Tehran, a literary friend tells her that when she gets to the US, “You will not be able to write about Austen without writing about us, about this place where you rediscovered Austen … The Austen you know is so irretrievably linked to this place…”

This very long book is such an awkward thing, and yet I agree with the conventional wisdom on this. It's terrific, even if awkwardly terrific. It stumbles in so many ways. For example, her efforts to conceal identities make the fake identities confusing, so much so that I was completed baffled as to who was who. I quickly gave up trying to follow. (She reads the audio herself, in her Iranian accent, which also awkwardly works well.) But it's unique and tragic, passionate, flawed, and also makes for a creative use of literary criticism.

Recommended if intense literary responses and the Iranian revolution interest.

2022
https://www.librarything.com/topic/341027#7870718 ( )
  dchaikin | Jun 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 260 (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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Epigraph
To whom do we tell what happened on the
Earth, for whom do we place everywhere huge
Mirrors in the hope that they will be filled up
And will stay so?

- Czeslaw Milosz,  "Annalena"
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (2)

This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. They were unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Nafisi's account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl or protests and demonstrations. Azar Nafisi's tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran.

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