This is the inspirational tale of eight women who defied the confines of life in revolutionary Iran through the joy and power of literature. "That room for all of us, became a place of transgression. What a wonderland it was! Sitting around the large coffee table covered with bouquets of flowers! We were, to borrow from Nabokov, to experience how ...Read MoreThis is the inspirational tale of eight women who defied the confines of life in revolutionary Iran through the joy and power of literature. "That room for all of us, became a place of transgression. What a wonderland it was! Sitting around the large coffee table covered with bouquets of flowers! We were, to borrow from Nabokov, to experience how the ordinary pebble of ordinary life could be transformed into a jewel through the magic eye of fiction." For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Azar 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. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. Shy and uncomfortable at first, they soon began to open up and speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading - "Pride and Prejudice", "Washington Square", "Daisy Miller" and "Lolita" - their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran. 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 of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. Azar Nafisi's luminous 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. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.Read Less
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a must read to have an inkling of middle-east mentality and its suppression of women
Apr 1, 2010
Reading Lolita In Tehran is a true story about freedom and captivity, gentleness and brutality, love and war. The reader is horrified at the indignities heaped upon women and at the same time touched by the small victories that keep them struggling on through the harshness of daily life. Great writing and a riveting story.
Jul 9, 2009
Nafisi is a brilliant writer and teacher, and this comes through in her novel. Anyone who wants to glimpse inside the culture of Iran, or those teach (like myself) will find this book both enlightening and useful.
Mar 28, 2009
Iran under Islam
In her book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi remembered that in the 1960s,
'It was not the fashion to think that our culture was not compatible with modern democracy. "We all wanted opportunities and freedom. That is why we supported revolutionary change, we were demanding more rights, not fewer. '
Even with the few rights she had, she later went on to become a professor of Persian studies at local universities. She brought a love of literature into many lives that may have been overcome by having to follow the religious beliefs of those in power during their generation.
Although Nafisi fought to remain unveiled, adamant that the symbol of the veil should not be used as a political sign , she allowed some of the students in her classes to influence the curriculum. In those days a teacher could be fired based on a student's report of her. And Nafisi was 'anxious' that she be well received by her students , even going so far as to hold a mock trial during the study of The Great Gatsby.
Many institutions used Iran for their own selfish ends, from the Regime itself to foreign powers and political parties. These forces and the roles they played in individual lives frustrated the people. Many people felt powerless or disillusioned, many even resented the interference. Yet, the small country grew into a major political power now recognized globally and respected in their own right.
Feb 12, 2009
The Book Group from Heaven in a Living Hell
I loved this book. It gave me an inside view of life in Tehran, the lives of women and girls in changing and difficult times. This book demonstrated how books can be universal in illuminating women's experiences. I loved the idea of bringing food and drink to the book group. My group share cake, wine, fruit and chocolate too, much to the disdain of partners and a rival reading group.. This is where I was introduced to this book. Thank you book group.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-03-17 This book transcends categorization as memoir, literary criticism or social history, though it is superb as all three. Literature professor Nafisi returned to her native Iran after a long education abroad, remained there for some 18 years, and left in 1997 for the United States, where she now teaches at Johns Hopkins. Woven through her story are the books she has taught along the way, among them works by Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and Austen. She casts each author in a new light, showing, for instance, how to interpret The Great Gatsby against the turbulence of the Iranian revolution and how her students see Daisy Miller as Iraqi bombs fall on Tehran Daisy is evil and deserves to die, one student blurts out. Lolita becomes a brilliant metaphor for life in the Islamic republic. The desperate truth of Lolita's story is... the confiscation of one individual's life by another, Nafisi writes. The parallel to women's lives is clear: we had become the figment of someone else's dreams. A stern ayatollah, a self-proclaimed philosopher-king, had come to rule our land.... And he now wanted to re-create us. Nafisi's Iran, with its omnipresent slogans, morality squads and one central character struggling to stay sane, recalls literary totalitarian worlds from George Orwell's 1984 to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Nafisi has produced an original work on the relationship between life and literature. (On sale Apr. 1)Forecast: Women's book groups will adore Nafisi's imaginative work. Booksellers might suggest they read it along with some of the classics Nafisi examines, including Lolita, The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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