Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran

A Memoir in Books

Book - 2003
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We all have dreams--things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. 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. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, 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. 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. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi's class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of "the Great Satan," she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.

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.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2003.
ISBN: 9780375504907
Branch Call Number: 921 N146
Characteristics: 347 p. ; 22 cm.


From Library Staff

Adult non-fiction.

Lolita in Tehran? Yes, and plenty of other Western classics, read and discussed by a group of women who met secretly with Nafisi, an instructor at the University of Tehran until she was expelled in 1997 for shunning the veil and left the country.
Also in audiobook CD and large print format.

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Jul 28, 2018

Sad to learn the plight of women living in a man's world: unable to speak up, lack of personal freedoms, controlled by father, husband, or brother, and beaten too.

Sep 27, 2016

This book is split into four parts. The first and the last are about what the book is advertised as: women in the Islamic Republic clandestinely reading American and British literature. The second and third part, not so much. I loved the first and last parts but the middle was hard to get through. I would still say it is worth the read.

Mar 23, 2016

I enjoyed reading it very much, in particular the contrasts between the books they were reading and the life the real women of the story had to experience daily in Iran. I also absolutely love her analysis of Nabokov's novels. Small stories are intertwined with literary analysis of the work of four great European/American authors. But the stories don't need to be big. The absurdity of their life under the new Iranian regime is shocking exactly because of these small details the author shares.

Mar 22, 2016

An interesting look at the Islamic Iranian revolution and it`s effect on Iranian women combined with their love of literature. The teacher and students explore their feelings and dreams through the lens of various classic novels and characters. Worth reading if you are interested.

Apr 07, 2015

The author and a few of her students met secretly to discuss books that were banned by the fundamentalist regime. If you enjoyed Persepolis, this one may appeal to you, too. It's a well-written look at revolutionary Iran, and a very good memoir.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 23, 2014

Now a professor at Johns Hopkins University, Nafisi was expelled from her teaching position at the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the veil. She formed a clandestine book club with seven former students and each Thursday for two years they shed their veils and their inhibitions and left, for one morning each week, the nightmare of the Islamic revolution while they explored the forbidden fiction of the West.

soblessed59 Sep 07, 2014

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
I second the Amazon reviewer who called this "literary crap"!
I expected this book to be about the changes in Iran after the The Cultural Revolution (1980–1987)and how it affected the people.

Instead it read like nothing but the most boring book report you ever heard, about books you haven't read and would never choose to read[except for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen]The other books are like depraved filth and I wish I hadn't even read all the crap she detailed about the perverted author and his trash-Lolita!

After I was sickened and disgusted by that... I just skimmed through to the end.

bkilfoy Mar 28, 2013

Nafisi's memoir recounts her experiences in Iran from when she returned there with her husband just prior to the Revolution until she left for the United States in the mid-nineties. A unique blend of literary criticism and personal narrative, the book is framed around her responses to literature as an English literature professor and how it interwove with her experience. The book allows for a unique insight into the realities of women living in Iran and Nafisi's own conflicts over the country she knew, the country that currently exists, and the realities that such a regime forces on its people. Nafisi's work is just as much about the internal space, her thoughts on literature, and her discussions with her students as it is about the experiences she had in Iran. A study in complexity, the book is profound, moving, and thought-provoking.

Jul 12, 2012

This book should be read by women in western countries, if only to shut our mouths about how pathetically easy our lives are and how easily we take our freedom for granted.
Nafisi is a beautiful writer and she broke my heart numerous times with this book, specifically when she writes about the bombings and the mirror feelings of knowing it is not you who has died, the happiness of not being blown up, but knowing that someone else has been, and the sorrow and guilt you feel because of your own elation.

Nov 08, 2010

I wanted to like this book more. However, I felt almost like I was reading a book report...and since I'd never read any of the books the group was looking at, I had a hard time following along.

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Jun 29, 2015

“She resented the fact that her veil, which to her was a symbol of scared relationship to god, had now become an instrument of power, turning the women who wore them into political signs and symbols.”

Jun 29, 2015

“The worst crime committed by totalitarian mind-sets is that they force their citizens, including their victims, to become complicit in their crimes. Dancing with your jailer, participating in your own execution, that is an act of utmost brutality.”

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