Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Reading Lolita in Tehran
By Azar Nafisi
Wow what a terrific book! I don’t even know where to begin on the many facets that this book has .
First, as the book takes you through the four sections of Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and of course Jane Austen… you can not take your own trip back to the memories you had when reading each of those books that Nafisi discusses. It brings you back to the emotions and the feelings you had while reading those books. If you hadn’t studied these books, it also takes you back to rethink those books and see if you can see them in a different light. This also makes me think that maybe I should re-read Lolita, or The Great Gatsby or even some Henry James books that I have never opened.
The books also takes you into the memories of a group of women between the 1970s and today. Unlike, my nice memories of sitting in bed, or hiding in the closet at night to read for fear of staying up to late, these women dealt with the fear of death resulting from the BANNED books they were reading. After the 1970s, Iran went through much political turmoil with changing from the “un Islamic” shah to the very religious Ayatollahs that changed Iran to the “Republic of Islam”. This book is a biography with many other biographies laced with a population of people that have been beaten and defeated not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. During this new regime, women were made to wear the chador and the veil, to show their innocence, to make men not want them, and not be held responsible for their rapes. People were not allowed to drink, listen to music, smile, watch movies, or in any way have a human life. Much of this “de westernization” had to do with readings and books. Most books were either banned and or re-written to fit the Islamic standard.
In a private class, Nafisi takes her life in her hands and decides that her love of books needs continue and be shared. At any moment her house can be searched, without a warrant, and these women be sent to jail for reading banned book, where their bodies will never be recovered.
This book is lesson in Iran history, in women’s view of the world from the religious and the liberal side, it is an emotional roller coaster as you suffer through their emotional pains and embarrassments they are made to deal with daily.
I highly recommend this read to all that live in today’s world, as better understanding of a population of people in the middle east. I salute those women who stood up, to show their daughters that someone has to stand up. I bow to Nafisi for her courageous words and tears she must have shed while writing such a personal history of her life and the country she loved!