Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

I finished Reading Lolita last night.  I have conflicted feelings about the book.  I was often frustrated with her writing and I was forced to reread entire paragraphs quite a few times.  But then there are some passages that I think are beautiful and then I would start to change my mind about her writing.  I think it is important to convey the stories of living through revolutionary Iran especially to us in the west who don’t know much about it, but I think it could have been done in a better way (perhaps chronologically?).  I also read some critiques of this book that said Nafisi exaggerated things and didn’t accurately portray Iran as a way to curry favor for US involvement in the region.  I thought that was interesting because the book didn’t make me want to support the Bush administration.

Here are my favorite passages (all from the Gatsby section):

p. 111: “A novel is not an allegory, I said as the period was about to come to an end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don’t enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won’t be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing. I just want you to remember this. That is all; class dismissed.”

p.109: “We in ancient countries have our past – we obsess over the past. They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.”

p. 144: “When I left class that day, I did not tell them what I myself was just beginning to discover: how similar our own fate was becoming to Gatsby’s. He wanted to fulfill his dream by repeating the past, and in the end he discovered that the past was dead, the present a sham, and there was no future. Was this not similar to our revolution, which had come in the name of our collective past and had wrecked our lives in the name of a dream?”

Now I must decide if I should focus on Frankenstein or make it my commuting book and start Goblet of Fire (I think the latter might win).

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