Every Thursday morning in a living room in Iran, over tea and pastries, eight women meet in secret to discuss forbidden works of Western literature. As they lose themselves in the worlds of Lolita, The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice, gradually they come to share their own stories, dreams and hopes with each other, and, for a few hours, taste freedom. Azar Nafisi's bestselling memoir is a moving, passionate testament to the transformative power of books, the magic of words and the search for beauty in life's darkest moments.
reading lolita in tehran
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This book investigates the various reasons behind the elevation of the memoir, previously categorized as a marginalized form of life writing that denudes the private space of women, especially in Western Asian countries such as Iran. Through a comparative investigation of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (1) and (2), the book examines the way both narrative and graphic memoirs offer possibilities for Iranian women to reclaim new territory, transgress a post-traumatic revolution, and reconstruct a new model of womanhood that evades socio-political and religious restrictions. Exile is conceptualized as empowering rather than a continued status of loss and disillusionment, and the liminality of both women writers turns into a space of artistic production. The book also resists the New Orientalist scope within which Reading Lolita in Tehran, more than Persepolis, has been misread. In order to reject these allegations, this work sheds light on the representation of Iranian women in Reading Lolita in Tehran, not as weak victims held captive by a totalitarian version of Islam, but as active participants rewriting their stories through the liberating power of the memoir. The comparative approach between narrative and comic memoirs is a fruitful way of displaying similar experiences of disillusionment, loss, return, and exile through different techniques. The common thread uniting both memoirs is their zeal to reclaim Iranian women’s agency and strength over subservience and passivity.
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...
In a direct, frank, and intimate exploration of Iranian literature and society, scholar, teacher, and poet Fatemeh Keshavarz challenges popular perceptions of Iran as a society bereft of vitality and joy. Her fresh perspective on present day Iran provides
The foundational text for the acclaimed New York Times and international best seller Reading Lolita in Tehran The ruler of a totalitarian state seeks validation from a former schoolmate, now the nation’s foremost thinker, in order to access a cultural cache alien to his regime. A literary critic provides commentary on an unfinished poem that both foretells the poet’s death and announces the critic’s secret identity as the king of a lost country. The greatest of Vladimir Nabokov’s enchanters—Humbert—is lost within the antithesis of a fairy story, in which Lolita does not hold the key to his past but rather imprisons him within the knowledge of his distance from that past. In this precursor to her international best seller Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi deftly explores the worlds apparently lost to Nabokov’s characters, their portals of access to those worlds, and how other worlds hold a mirror to Nabokov’s experiences of physical, linguistic, and recollective exile. Written before Nafisi left the Islamic Republic of Iran, and now published in English for the first time and with a new introduction by the author, this book evokes the reader’s quintessential journey of discovery and reveals what caused Nabokov to distinctively shape and reshape that journey for the author.
A Study Guide for Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Literary Newsmakers for Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Literary Newsmakers for Students for all of your research needs.
From the author of the bestselling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran comes a powerful and passionate case for the vital role of fiction today. Ten years ago, Azar Nafisi electrified readers with her million-copy bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which told the story of how, against the backdrop of morality squads and executions, she taught The Great Gatsby and other classics to her eager students in Iran. In this exhilarating follow-up, Nafisi has written the book her fans have been waiting for: an impassioned, beguiling and utterly original tribute to the vital importance of fiction in a democratic society. Taking her cue from a challenge thrown to her at a reading, she energetically responds to those who say fiction has nothing to teach us today. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favourite novels, she invites us to join her as citizens of her 'Republic of Imagination', a country where the villains are conformity, and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.
Since the age of the Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD), Iran and the West have time and again appeared to be at odds. Iran and the West charts this contentious and complex relationship by examining the myriad ways the two have perceived each other, from antiquity to today. Across disciplines, perspectives and periods contributors consider literary, imagined, mythical, visual, filmic, political and historical representations of the 'other' and the ways in which these have been constructed in, and often in spite of, their specific historical contexts. Many of these narratives, for example, have their origin in the ancient world but have since been altered, recycled and manipulated to fit a particular agenda. Ranging from Tacitus, Leonidas and Xerxes via Shahriar Mandanipour and Azar Nafisi to Rosewater, Argo and 300, this inter-disciplinary and wide-ranging volume is essential reading for anyone working on the complex history, present and future of Iranian-Western relations.