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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

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Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.


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Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.

30 review for Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

  1. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    This book failed for me on a number of levels. The premise of it sounded interesting to me--a glimpse at the lives of women and academics under the totalitarian regime in Iran, arranged around a series of bookclub meetings and analyses of various famous books. But for such a promising concept, and for a book which deals with so many serious and complex topics, it's facile and cliched. Almost alarmingly so, in fact. The tone was the biggest failing for me. It's smug and self-important. For me, it This book failed for me on a number of levels. The premise of it sounded interesting to me--a glimpse at the lives of women and academics under the totalitarian regime in Iran, arranged around a series of bookclub meetings and analyses of various famous books. But for such a promising concept, and for a book which deals with so many serious and complex topics, it's facile and cliched. Almost alarmingly so, in fact. The tone was the biggest failing for me. It's smug and self-important. For me, it was as if the author was making the same mistake as the Iranian ayatollahs: just as they confuse personal thoughts for political intent, so Nafisi seems to confuse the personal, therapeutic action of a private social event with something that automatically has major external political significance. Perhaps the story of these meetings--which were, undoubtedly, risky for all involved--would have had more impact if she had dug deeper into their meaning, their context, instead of settling for a relatively shallow assessment. Nafisi's analysis of the works of Nabokov, Austen, etc, was similarly shallow--it felt at times as if I were reading a poor collection of Cliff Notes. Especially in the case of Austen--how novel to point out that there is a satirical and sarcastic element to her work. On a more technical level, the structure of the work is confusing and disjointed. Many of the people who feature are indistinguishable from one another, and some of them--Nafisi's husband, her children, her parents--are conspicuous by how little they are mentioned. The style is lyrical, but empty and frustrating. Overall, enough to interest me enough to seek out other books on a similar topic, but not enough to make me return to it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I'm not sure I can finish this book. It's just so boring and self-important. And poorly written. My eyes keep crossing. It makes me angry because I think this COULD really be a good book. It has a good premise, a lot of potential, and it's about a topic I'm actually very interested in and would like to know more about. But instead it's dry as hell and doesn't follow any cohesive pattern--it just feels like a lot of random moments in the life of Azar Nafisi strung together by some run-of-the-mill I'm not sure I can finish this book. It's just so boring and self-important. And poorly written. My eyes keep crossing. It makes me angry because I think this COULD really be a good book. It has a good premise, a lot of potential, and it's about a topic I'm actually very interested in and would like to know more about. But instead it's dry as hell and doesn't follow any cohesive pattern--it just feels like a lot of random moments in the life of Azar Nafisi strung together by some run-of-the-mill literary criticism. And maybe worst of all, it doesn't make me feel any more empathetic to the Iranian people than I already did and it doesn't give me any additional insight into Islamic culture that I haven't already gotten from Western media sources. Why did this get such good reviews? Do people never read books and judge them for themselves? Or do they just say what they think they're supposed to say because they were told this is a terribly important book about a terribly important topic by a terribly important person? *sigh*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Annalisa

    I feel like I showed up for class without reading the required assignment. This book should come with a prerequisite reading list: Lolita, Invitation to a Beheading, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Miller, and Pride and Prejudice or at least a warning for spoilers: (view spoiler)[Lolita is raped by an older man, Gatsby dies, Daisy Miller doesn't get a happy ending, and Elizabeth Bennett does (hide spoiler)] . If I would have known Nafisi was going to delve into these literary pieces like she would one of I feel like I showed up for class without reading the required assignment. This book should come with a prerequisite reading list: Lolita, Invitation to a Beheading, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Miller, and Pride and Prejudice or at least a warning for spoilers: (view spoiler)[Lolita is raped by an older man, Gatsby dies, Daisy Miller doesn't get a happy ending, and Elizabeth Bennett does (hide spoiler)] . If I would have known Nafisi was going to delve into these literary pieces like she would one of her class discussions, I would have wanted to read them before hand. It would have been nice to have them in my mind to go through the symbolism with her instead of being lectured at. Reading this book, I pondered this question: can someone become too educated, too intellectual to write a good book? It becomes too analytic and not enough heart. This story about living through the Iranian tyranny of the last century could have been fascinating, but it becomes more about analyzing it to death than about the movement and people of the country. I mention this intellectual question because one of the underlying themes of the book is intellectual liberals vs religious conservatives. While I find the pursuit of education extremely important (and maybe I worship intellectualism too much), why is it always one or the other? Why does the spiritual lost in the educational realm? Can't we have both? Surprisingly enough, the story of Iran told from this very liberal anti-Revolutionist made me sympathize with these Muslim extremist more than any other media has done so far. Not that I agree with their methods (I full-heartedly agree that forcing morals on people makes them resent them, not embrace them), but I found myself seeing the world through their eyes, especially where Nafisi condemns them the most. I can see them so caught up in their spiritual transformation that they want the world around them to be as pure. They see their country falling to the leftist extreme and they want to save it. We see our country falling into moral decay and we say "don't judge and don't preach." We fall on the other extreme and while freedom of choice is always preferable, I don't know that a social rejection of morality and religion is the answer either. Just for the record, I think the revolution was deplorable and I would have hated and feared to live through it. The backwards control of these men over women riles me. I'm just saying, I could see intention on both sides, and maybe a glimmer or redemption for some, but I don't think that was Nafisi's intention. I think I saw it to spite her because I wanted her to appreciate morality more and I wanted to counteract her bitterness. My favorite part of the book was in the Gatsby chapter when the students put The Great Gatsby on trial to see if it was worthy to read in an Islamic country. (I find it amusing that they take no issue with Lolita but Austen is too much.) I loved this section because it discussed the purpose of literature, to learn and grow and not merely to be a window of morality. I often find that I learn more and feel more for a book that is not happy and clean, but one that tackles difficult issues, that makes me consider moral issues, not by showing me morality but by examining it and the lack of it. It strengthens my morality instead of deface it. Nafisi said: "A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil." I loved the concept of reading books from your frame of reference, that the women of Iran were comparing the themes of these books to their own lives, to the restrictions of marriage, to the laws about wearing veils, so that the books not only become a picture of this other world, but help them understand their own as well. There are some very thought-provoking sections in the book and some beautiful illusions, but Nafisi tries to hard to drive in metaphors, to give us the sense of the surroundings, to make us understand her thought process, to pound the theme "Reading Lolita in Tehran" in just about every other paragraph, that the richness of the story is often lost in details about who ordered what kind of coffee and where people sat in her classroom and what the weather was like. There is a good story in there, but it got lost in the literature.

  4. 5 out of 5

    بثينة العيسى

    ثمة أمر غير مفهوم في منع هذه الرواية، ولكنني أعتقد بأن مزاج الرقيب غير منطقي مجملاً، وقد اعتدنا تلون الموقف الرسمي من الثقافة وممارسة مزيد من المنع والإقصاء لاسترضاء ورشوة ومغازلة أطراف أصولية. الحمد لله على نعمة الانترنت، وقد قرأت الكتاب بضمير مرتاح جدا، ومتأكدة بأن آذر نفيسي لن تمانع. ما أريد قوله هو أن هذا كتاب عظيم، إنه كتاب عن الأدب وقابليته لإيواء الإنسان وتحصين إنسانيته المسحوقة تحت وطأة الحذاء الثقيل للديموقراطيات الدينية المزعومة، والتي نعرف كلنا بأنها مجرد ديكتاتوريات بمكياج مبتذل. هذا ثمة أمر غير مفهوم في منع هذه الرواية، ولكنني أعتقد بأن مزاج الرقيب غير منطقي مجملاً، وقد اعتدنا تلون الموقف الرسمي من الثقافة وممارسة مزيد من المنع والإقصاء لاسترضاء ورشوة ومغازلة أطراف أصولية. الحمد لله على نعمة الانترنت، وقد قرأت الكتاب بضمير مرتاح جدا، ومتأكدة بأن آذر نفيسي لن تمانع. ما أريد قوله هو أن هذا كتاب عظيم، إنه كتاب عن الأدب وقابليته لإيواء الإنسان وتحصين إنسانيته المسحوقة تحت وطأة الحذاء الثقيل للديموقراطيات الدينية المزعومة، والتي نعرف كلنا بأنها مجرد ديكتاتوريات بمكياج مبتذل. هذا الكتاب وباختصار شديد: ضرورة وجودية وإنسانية وجمالية وإضافة حقيقية لكل مكتبة. ملاحظة: تم شراء نسخة ورقية قانونية لاحقًا حفظًا للحقوق.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه می سال 2005 میلادی عنوان: لولیتا خوانی در تهران؛ در 347 ص، به زبان: انگلیسی؛ لندن، فورث استیت، 1383، شابک: 0007178484؛ کتاب لولیتاخوانی در تهران، چهار بخش است: نخست: لولیتا (پرسوناژ رمان لولیتا اثر ولادیمیر نابوکوف)؛ دوم: گتسبی (پرسوناژ رمان گتسبی بزرگ اثر اسکات فیتزجرالد)؛ سوم: جیمز (هنری جیمز، نویسنده مشهور آمریکایی)؛ چهارم: آستن (جین آستن، نویسنده مشهور انگلیسی).؛ موضوع اصلی کتاب شرح و توصیف خاطرات خانم Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه می سال 2005 میلادی عنوان: لولیتا خوانی در تهران؛ در 347 ص، به زبان: انگلیسی؛ لندن، فورث استیت، 1383، شابک: 0007178484‬؛ کتاب لولیتاخوانی در تهران، چهار بخش است: نخست: لولیتا (پرسوناژ رمان لولیتا اثر ولادیمیر نابوکوف)؛ دوم: گتسبی (پرسوناژ رمان گتسبی بزرگ اثر اسکات فیتزجرالد)؛ سوم: جیمز (هنری جیمز، نویسنده مشهور آمریکایی)؛ چهارم: آستن (جین آستن، نویسنده مشهور انگلیسی).؛ موضوع اصلی کتاب شرح و توصیف خاطرات خانم نفیسی، از روزهای انقلاب فرهنگی در ایران است؛ ایشان با تعطیلی کلاس درسش، با بازخوانی رمانهای مشهور، به دانشجویان پیشین خویش، خصوصی تدریس میکند. ا. شربیانی

  6. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    In case you don't know about this book yet (though, honestly, how could you not know about this book yet?), it is an absolutely amazing memoir by an Iranian woman who was a professor of English & Persian literature at the University of Tehran before, during, and after the revolution and war with Iraq. Once wearing the veil became mandatory and she refused to wear one, she was forced to quit teaching, and one way she came up with to fill her time was to gather several of her most dedicated st In case you don't know about this book yet (though, honestly, how could you not know about this book yet?), it is an absolutely amazing memoir by an Iranian woman who was a professor of English & Persian literature at the University of Tehran before, during, and after the revolution and war with Iraq. Once wearing the veil became mandatory and she refused to wear one, she was forced to quit teaching, and one way she came up with to fill her time was to gather several of her most dedicated students for a once-weekly literature class. In it, they discussed books like The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, Lolita (duh), etc. This book is triple-layered. The first layer is Nafisi's memoir of the tumultuous times she lived in in Tehran, which she watched go from one of the most progressive, intellectual cities in the world to one of the most restrictive and repressive. You can see many of her friends and relatives here, and learn about the different ways people dealt with everything -- from withdrawing completely from society to picking sides and becoming more vocal and fervent about religion, politics, nationalism, etc. The second layer is Nafisi's memoirs of being a professor of literature in such times, including one astonishing episode where her class actually puts The Great Gatsby on trial to determine whether it is decadent, Western poison or a work of high art. Not to mention the memories of the women in her literature class, how they coped with the readings, one another, and their lives in Iran. The third layer, which for me catapults this book into a work of absolute genius, is Nafisi's theories on and explications of the books themselves, including how they relate to the struggles and culture of both of the above layers. Nafisi's brilliant theories about literature, her clear, inviting voice, and the much-needed internal perspective she gives us (Americans) on a country and culture that we are essentially taught to loathe all combine to make this one of the most incredible books I've ever read. Three times.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ايمان

    أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران تخيل أيها القارئ ( عبارة ستصطدم بها كثيرا في هذا الكتاب تأتيك كصفعة أحيانا خصوصا حين تكون معارضا للنفيسي) تخيل أنك تجلس على مكتبك و أمامك كتب أدبية منتقاة بعناية فائقة و كتاب واحد سياسي يتحدث عن الثورة الاسلامية الايرانية و شذرات من أوراق حياة أستاذة جامعية ..تخيل نفسك تقرأ من هذا و ذاك مستمتعا بهذا و رافضا ذاك..فتتداخل الأفكار في عقلك ووجدانك مسببة فوضى و صداع و أحيانا صراعات قد تنتهي بقرارات قد ترضيك و قد لا ترضيك ..تخيل اذن لو جمعت كل تلك الفوضى أمامك في كتاب واحد هو أن أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران تخيل أيها القارئ ( عبارة ستصطدم بها كثيرا في هذا الكتاب تأتيك كصفعة أحيانا خصوصا حين تكون معارضا للنفيسي) تخيل أنك تجلس على مكتبك و أمامك كتب أدبية منتقاة بعناية فائقة و كتاب واحد سياسي يتحدث عن الثورة الاسلامية الايرانية و شذرات من أوراق حياة أستاذة جامعية ..تخيل نفسك تقرأ من هذا و ذاك مستمتعا بهذا و رافضا ذاك..فتتداخل الأفكار في عقلك ووجدانك مسببة فوضى و صداع و أحيانا صراعات قد تنتهي بقرارات قد ترضيك و قد لا ترضيك ..تخيل اذن لو جمعت كل تلك الفوضى أمامك في كتاب واحد هو أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران.. تخيل أن تحمل هذا الكتاب و تعبر به نفق مظلم و في يدك شمعة تنطفئ أحيانا تحت سطوة نسمة عابرة مجبرة اياك أن تحيا في ظلمة قصيرة تفكر في بعض ما جاء في الكتاب و باحثا في ذات الوقت عن عود ثقاب لتشعل تلك الشمعة مجددا و تكمل المسير ..هذا ما قد يحصل لك كما حصل معي أثناء قرائتي لهذا الكتب. فلنتوقف قليلا عند العنوان" أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران' لما أختارت النفيسي هذا الكتاب دون غيره عنوانا رغم انها ذكرت كتبا أخرى كغاتسبي العظيم و اعمال جين اوستن..وجدت أن اختيارها قد يكون نابع من سببين أولها ربط الثورة الايرانية بالثورة الروسية و ثانيهما و هو الأقرب في نظري الصدمة التي قد يحدثها العنوان كنوع من الدعاية للكتاب لهذا أنصح الراغبين في قراءة هذا الكتاب ان يعرجوا قليلا على أعمال نابكوف خاصة لوليتا لتتضح له الرؤية فالنفيسي أرادت ان تضع نفسها بجانب ناباكوف و هي المغرمة بهذا الكاتب لحد الجنون أرادت أن تربط بين غضبها و رفضها للثورة الاسلامية و رفض ناباكوف للثورة الروسية ... فلنعد الآن للمضمون..سيرة النفيسي تعالج فترة جد مهمة من تاريخ ايران قد ابالغ ان قلت تعالج فالمعالجة السياسية بالتأكيد تحتاج الى خبرة أكثر و حيادية أعم لم نجدهما في هذا الكتاب لأنها تحكي وجهة نظر شخصية حتى لو استغلت حكايا تلميذاتها أو بناتها كما تناديهن..فلنستبدل كلمة معالجة و نقول الكتاب يشير الى فترة ما بين 1979-1997 بين اندلاع الثورة الايرانية و خروجها من ايران متجهة نحو امريكا الهروب من الضد نحو الضد ..يا للمصادفة أعترف أني لم أكن حيادية أحيانا في القراءة و وجدت نفسي مضطرة أن اهمس للنفيسي متفقة معك تماما .. فالثورة الاسلامية الايرانية لها من الأخطاء ما يكون عادة لكل الثورات فليست الثورة منزهة و تكفي نظرة واحدة لواقعنا المعاصر لنتأكد من الأمر..و لم أمنع نفسي من الضحك الأسود الغاضب و النفيسي تقتبس عن كتاب الخميني" المباديء السياسية والفلسفية والاجتماعية والدينية" يقول : إذا مارس رجل الجنس مع دجاجة فهل يجوز له أكلها بعد ذلك؟ الإجابة : كلا لا هو ولا أي أحد من أفراد أسرته الأقربين ولا الجار القريب يجوز له أن يأكل من لحم تلك الدجاجة، ولكن لا بأس مع الجار الذي يسكن على بعد بابين .. بالله عليكم ...فلنصمت و نعود للكتاب قلت ساندتها أحيانا..لكني رفضت نظرتها الشخصية- و يجب التأكيد على هذا الأمر الشخصية- لمسألة الحجاب كما استهجنت أيضا أريحيتها في الـتأكيد على حبها للحم الهام "لحم الخنزير " و كأن ايران تخلو من لحم غيره و أضف لهذا الخمر بكل انواعها هذا كله كان موجودا في ايران تحت حكم الخميني ...غريب هذا الربط الحتمي بين المثقف و المفكر و بين كل ما يحرمه الدين فهل الخمر و التدخين و لحم الخنزير و أن اعري كتفي و صدري يجعل مني مثقفة و مفكرة منطق غريب على العموم النقاش حول مسالة الحجاب هل هو مفروض أم غير مفروض يبقى جدل بيزنطي لن يخرج بنتيجة فالأمور واضحة و المرأة المسلمة لا تحتاج لمن يدافع عنها و عن اختياراتها خصوصا من كتب تنشر من خارج الدول الاسلامية من بلاد تنتظرأية فرصة لضرب الاسلام فهذا شيء غير مقبول بتاتا... على العموم فقراءة النفيسي لايران تحت الحكم الثيوقراطي لم يستهويني جدا بل ما دفعني لأتمم هذا الكتاب هو قراءتها لعدة كتب أدبية و هي قراءة بالتأكيد على درجة كبيرة من الخبرة الاكاديمية تحسب للنفيسي..قراءة جعلتني أغير بعض من أحكامي السابقة على كتب قرأتها أو أهملتها لكني الآن بالتأكيد سأعود اليها بحماس أكثر و رؤية جديدة لا يسعني الا أن أشكر النفيسي على هذا الأمر..الحديث عن الروايات و النقاشات التي تمت في الحرم الجامعي بين النفيسي و الطلبة و بينها و بين طالباتها في الصف الخاص شيء مثير ذكرني بنا نحن رواد هذا الموقع فالنقاش بالتأكيد يثري جدا فلكل منا أسلوبه الخاص في القراءة و مبادئه التي تعكسها ملاحظاته و تعليقاته و نظرته للحياة عموما و هو شيء أجده حيوي و مشجع فكم من كتاب لم أكن لأقرأه لولا تشجيع البعض و كم من فكرة خاطئة أعتبرتها من المسلمات فأجد من يعارضني فيها و يأتي بضدها فاعيد التفكير من جديد ..النفيسي في كتابها هذا بغض النظر عن المسألة الايرانية تدعونا الى اعمال الفكر حين نقرأ و أن لا نكون مجرد عبيد للكلمة نبكي حين تفرح البطلة بل أن نسأل ما سبب الفرح و ما الغاية منه ...لهذا السبب أشكر النفيسي على هذا الكتاب...و أدعوها الى قراءة الاسلام بين الغرب و الشرق لعزت بيغوفيتش ( فهو الكتاب الوحيد الذي يخطر ببالي الآن ومن يجد غيره فليخبرنا به لتعم الفائدة) ادعوها أن تقرأه لتفهم الفرق بين الثقافة و الحضارة فالاسلام ابدا لم يكن دين يجمد الفكر بل على العكس تماما ..و لنا عودة في الموضوع قراءة ممتعة نسيت أمرا مهما تحية للمترجمة ريم قيس كبة

  8. 4 out of 5

    فهد الفهد

    أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران مرة أخرى، نحن في طهران، ولكننا لا نتتبع في هذه المرة قصة حب خفية، ولا تتقحم سردنا مشاهد مستعادة من (ألف ليلة وليلة)، بل نحن مع دكتورة متخصصة في الأدب الإنجليزي وطالباتها، اللواتي قررن إنشاء ما يشبه نادي كتاب، يؤين إليه في كل خميس، هناك حيث يمكن للنقاش أن يمتد بحرية، بعدما تقلصت مساحة الحرية في إيران الثورة الإسلامية. عنوان الكتاب مغري جداً، وخاصة للقارئ الغربي، فلوليتا – رواية نابوكوف الشهيرة – رمز غربي لجرأة الأفكار، وقدرتها على مصادمة القارئ، فأن تقرأ هذه الرواية الإشكا أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران مرة أخرى، نحن في طهران، ولكننا لا نتتبع في هذه المرة قصة حب خفية، ولا تتقحم سردنا مشاهد مستعادة من (ألف ليلة وليلة)، بل نحن مع دكتورة متخصصة في الأدب الإنجليزي وطالباتها، اللواتي قررن إنشاء ما يشبه نادي كتاب، يؤين إليه في كل خميس، هناك حيث يمكن للنقاش أن يمتد بحرية، بعدما تقلصت مساحة الحرية في إيران الثورة الإسلامية. عنوان الكتاب مغري جداً، وخاصة للقارئ الغربي، فلوليتا – رواية نابوكوف الشهيرة – رمز غربي لجرأة الأفكار، وقدرتها على مصادمة القارئ، فأن تقرأ هذه الرواية الإشكالية، وأين؟ في طهران؟ فهذا ما يبدو محاولة للتحرر من إسار الوصاية بجميع أشكالها، ولكن هناك معنى آخر متضمن في العنوان، نفهمه عندما نقرأ رؤية آذار نفيسي لرواية لوليتا ولشخصية (هومبرت)، فشخصية هومبرت التي تتسيد السرد في رواية (لوليتا)، وتبدو لامعة، تعيد نفيسي قراءتها بطريقة بارعة، لتظهر وجهها الآخر، فهومبرت ليس إلا عجوزاً قذراً، يسيطر على لوليتا المسكينة ويغتصبها، ولوليتا ليست كما يظنها الآخرون تلك المرأة اللعوب، لا، إنها مجرد طفلة منتهكة، تنجو في النهاية من جلادها، وتفر بحياتها، فلذا هي بطلة مظلومة. من هنا يمكننا قراءة العنوان بوجه آخر، بحيث يصبح هومبرت هنا هو الثورة الإسلامية في إيران التي تصنع نموذجاً ترى أنه هو المرأة، كما فعل هومبرت مع لوليتا، والمرأة الإيرانية هي لوليتا المسكينة التي تعاني تحت ممارسات هومبرت وسلبه لحريتها وسعادتها ليطفئ من خلالها صورته هو عن المرأة، وكيف يجب أن تكون. لا يغيب عنا أن مفهوم الحرية لدى نفيسي غربي بامتياز، فهي لا تكتفي بمعارضة الحجاب المفروض على النساء الإيرانيات، بل حتى منع الخمور ولحم الخنزير !! والذي نجدها تتلذذ بأكله في أحد فصول الكتاب !! القيمة الحقيقية للكتاب لدي، هي في تفاعل نفيسي وطالباتها مع الكتب، مع نابوكوف وأوستن وفيتزجيرالد وهنري جيمس، كيف يمكن قراءة الكتاب وربطه بحياة الإنسان، كيف يمكن ربطه بالعنف، بالوصاية، بالحرب - العراقية الإيرانية -، كيف يمكن الفرار إلى الكتب، إلى المؤلفين البعيدين ورؤاهم وأفكارهم. كما أننا نشهد كيف انقلب المجتمع بعد الثورة، وصارت الكتب وشخصياتها تحاكم في قاعات الدرس، وكيف صارت نفيسي تحاول التعامل مع طلابها المتعصبين الراغبين في تجريم الأدب الغربي واعتباره جزءً لا يتجزأ من الغرب الاستعماري. من أجمل - وأقسى برأيي – ما أشارت إليه نفيسي في حياتها في إيران، هو عندما تذهب إلى المكتبة الوحيدة المتبقية في طهران التي تبيع الأدب الغربي، حيث يحثها البائع على أن تأخذ كل ما تقدر عليه، فكل هذه الكتب ستتم مصادرتها قريباً، مجرد تخيل مشهدها وهي تأخذ بعض الكتب، وتعيد أخرى، وتحسب كم معها من المال؟ محزن جداً لأي قارئ يعرف لذة الحصول على الكتب، وقسوة الحرمان منها. وكذا علاقتها بمن كانت تدعوه (ساحرها)، وهو أديب إيراني كانت تقضي معه أوقات أدبية وفكرية بامتياز، وكانت تعتد بآرائه ومشورته، وهي علاقة نادرة، يصعب الحصول عليها حد الحسد. الكتاب مثير، وخاصة في فكرة الارتباط بالكتب، ومحاولة قراءتها بطريقة عاطفية ترتبط بحياتنا.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Khush

    The title itself is a rather catchy one, however, I must add that it is an important book. There are so many aspects of this memoir that I value a lot. For me it is less about totalitarian Regimes and Iran, it is more about courage and integrity in times of crisis particularly when one is not allowed to do something as harmless as reading, and therefore one stands up against the bullies. When I read this book, I l felt like I were in a literature class with Ms. Nafisi her students. Reading forbid The title itself is a rather catchy one, however, I must add that it is an important book. There are so many aspects of this memoir that I value a lot. For me it is less about totalitarian Regimes and Iran, it is more about courage and integrity in times of crisis particularly when one is not allowed to do something as harmless as reading, and therefore one stands up against the bullies. When I read this book, I l felt like I were in a literature class with Ms. Nafisi her students. Reading forbidden books, discussing writers and then using imaginations to combat the world around; or shall I say, one reads to remain sane inside and not let any regressive forces break the human will and intelligence, and that's what these Iranians do. Very often such narratives are often understood or read in regard to one set of people, one country, one people, the moment we fall in such a trap the very purpose of the book is defeated. The critique in the book is the critique of power, how freedoms are curtailed if one does not pay attention when we ignore and look away. While it is most definitely a book about Iran, but it should not only be read as a portrayal of regressive Iran and the superior west. I guess writers like Nabokov, Fitzgerald, Lawrence are read and claimed in Iran or in other countries for the same reasons they are read in the west. When these writers are banned and their books are burnt in Iran, it is exactly for the same reasons these same writers were once banned in the west. Of course, one feels quite suffocated when one reads the kind of restrictions that are imposed, particularly, on women in Iran. As a reader, I was aghast to read that women have to be in 'hijab' even in a classroom. But the book also tells that it is the new regime that has imposed these laws, Iran before the revolution has been radically different. Looking at the contemporary world, it seems absurd now that Muslim women are now policed and shamed in the same way, but for different reasons, not only in Iran but also in the most advanced nations of the world. Personally, I think that the whole politics of 'Hijab' whether of the Mullahs or the Trumpists mirror each other. I am sure someone like Ms. Nafisi who wrote such an exemplary book concerning the situation in Iran in the days of revolution must have now, being a US resident, a lot to do in the US.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nariman

    هیچ انقلابی را نمی شود عظیم تلقی کرد مگر آن که زنان یک کشور و نحوه ی زندگیشان را دگرگون کند - گاندی اگر این جمله گاندی رو معیار قرار بدیم، انقلاب ما بدون شک بویی از عظمت نبرده. لغو قوانین حمایت از خانواده، پایین آوردن سن ازدواج دختران، حجاب اجباری، مجاز نمودن چند همسری، پدیده ازدواج موقت و ... همه و همه زن ایرانی رو در حد یک کالا پایین آورد. کالایی که بزرگترین هدفش ارضای نیاز های جنس مخالف شده. و به اصطلاح این جهاد اکبرش هست.و اگر فکر می کنید مشکلات و گرفتاری های زنان ایرانی که در کتاب خانوم نفیس هیچ انقلابی را نمی شود عظیم تلقی کرد مگر آن که زنان یک کشور و نحوه ی زندگیشان را دگرگون کند - گاندی اگر این جمله گاندی رو معیار قرار بدیم، انقلاب ما بدون شک بویی از عظمت نبرده. لغو قوانین حمایت از خانواده، پایین آوردن سن ازدواج دختران، حجاب اجباری، مجاز نمودن چند همسری، پدیده ازدواج موقت و ... همه و همه زن ایرانی رو در حد یک کالا پایین آورد. کالایی که بزرگترین هدفش ارضای نیاز های جنس مخالف شده. و به اصطلاح این جهاد اکبرش هست.و اگر فکر می کنید مشکلات و گرفتاری های زنان ایرانی که در کتاب خانوم نفیسی می خونید مربوط به اوایل انقلابه و الان اوضاع بهتر شده، ارجاعتون می دم به سخنرانی های چند وقت پیش یکی از ائمه جمعه که گفته بود زنی از دید اسلام خوبه که گوشه خونه باشه و کسی نبینتش، ارجاعتون میدم به گشت ارشاد و یا اسید پاشی های اصفهان. کتاب زندگی خانوم نفیسی و تعدادی از دانشجویان دخترش رو از اوایل انقلاب تا اواخر ریاست جمهوری رفسنجانی در بر می گیره، ینی زمانی که دیگه خانوم نفیسی تصمیم گرفتن از ایران برای همیشه برن. کتاب خوبیه برای این که از جزییات انقلاب ما آگاه بشید، خصوصا از لحاظ تاثیراتی که بر زندگی زنان داشت . تنها ایرادی که میشه به کتاب گرفت نقد های ادبی گاه و بیگاهش بود. هر فصل به نام یک نویسنده یا اثر ادبی مشهور نامگذاری شده و بخش هایی از هر فصل به نقد اون آثار اون نویسنده تخصیص داده می شه که خوندنش برای من غالبا ملال آور بود. در جایی از کتاب در واکنش به این که دانشجویان به اصطلاح خط امامی سر کلاس ها به آثاری که مورد تدریس قرار داده میشه انگ امپریالیستی و مروج فساد و گمراه کننده بودن می زنن، خانوم نفیسی به درستی اشاره می کنه که اصلا از این مساله شگفت زده نیست. چون امثال این آدم ها به هر چیزی که نمی فهمن حمله می کنن. این دانشجو ها حتی کتاب رو نمی خوندن اما باهاش مخالفت می کردن! به نظرم ایران آینده کمتر به مستر بحری ها، مستر قمی ها و مستر نیازی ها و بیشتر به نیما ها و آذین ها و نسرین ها نیاز داره.ایران آینده جوان هایی رو می خواد که بخونن، بفهمن و تحلیل کنن و تحمل شنیدن آرای مخالف رو داشته باشند. نه جوان هایی که از هر چیزی که نمی فهمند و با عقاید و ایمان آن ها سازگار نیست می ترسند و به اون حمله می کنند.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurae1212

    I am a lover of books. I am a lover of history. I am a lover of cultures. Consequently, I expected to love this book. Sadly, I found my dissappointment growing with each page I turned. The premise of the novel was certainly interesting- exploring times, the way that they were viewed, the oppression of women, religious fanaticism and political regimes that adopted Sharia, family, and the overall way that a country grew dissillusioned with iteself through novels was certainly an interesting one. Y I am a lover of books. I am a lover of history. I am a lover of cultures. Consequently, I expected to love this book. Sadly, I found my dissappointment growing with each page I turned. The premise of the novel was certainly interesting- exploring times, the way that they were viewed, the oppression of women, religious fanaticism and political regimes that adopted Sharia, family, and the overall way that a country grew dissillusioned with iteself through novels was certainly an interesting one. Yet, the novel failed to fulfill its promise. I was very hopeful at the beginning, I quite enjoyed the section on Lolita, and I feel I would have even had I not read Nabokov previously. However, then, as we turned to Gatsby, that initial love died. Now, don't get me wrong, it had nothing to do with Gatsby itself. I adore The Great Gatsby and F.Scott Fitzgerald. But there was such an abrupt shift in time and place, and even in character- I lost all connection I had to the girls I had grown attached to, and I no longer felt any attachment to the author herself. Suddenly, she started to become very self-centered. Some of her complaints seemed too petty, after all there are problems within every nation, but more than that, it was not that she sought refuge in her books, but that she expected others to do the same that annoyed me. I enjoyed the actual analysis on Gatsby, but I the author grew more and more conceited as it went on. It just continued from there on. The novel continued to offer disconnected snapshots of life, that while powerful, never allowed me to truly emphasize because as quickly as they came they faded. Always there was a fleeing to books. And while I could see how the books connected, none seemed to resonate with the actual problems in the country as much as Lolita had. Gatsby and the failed dream I could understand- by Daisy Miller I was lost. Now, admittedly, I have never much enjoyed James, but I found that besides the point, asI also disliked other sections dealing with books I enjoyed. I was truly hoping for the book to redeem itself with an intelligent and relevant discussion of Pride and Prejudice. It failed utterly. I found the end dissatisfying, less connected than anything previously, and it had even lost what had made it charming to begin with- no longer was there an insightful discussion of novels, nor did I feel anything for the author or even the students much at this point. They were completely removed from me, I saw them through a lens, as studies not as actual people. Since this is a memoir, and these people are all real, this is a great failing. They are people who are supposed to come alive, and I felt as they were besotted with themselves, their own pretension, particularly Nafisi's, was unbearable. There were some positive aspects of the book- it gave me a great insight, if often tinged- I felt Nafisi was too biased, I understand why, but I thought that she regarded all of the revolutionaries as inferior beings, not intellectual in the least simply because they had different ideals- into the Iranian revolution and the culture there, and gave me new insights into some of my favorite novels. I am only saddened that the clear bias and narcissism of the author ruined this experience for me. It could have been a great intellectual and cultural study. As it was, it was merely decent, and while the subject material was engaging, I was wishing for it to end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    إبراهيم عادل

    حسنًا إذًا .. انتهيت منه .. اخيرًا تتزاحم الأفكار في رأسي فعلاً لكتابة "تقرير" عن هذا الكتاب غير العادي .. بالتأكيد: ماذا أرادت منه المؤلفة؟! ما الرسائل التي تبثها من خلاله بشكل ضمني أو واضح؟! لمن توجه هذه الرسائل تحديدًا؟! كيف يستفيد قارئ هذا الكتاب الاستفادة القصوى منه، إن كان ثمة استفادة قصوى؟!! . طالت مدة مكوث هذا الكتاب بين يديَّ لأسباب متباينة، بل وقاطعته بغيره، وتركته ثم عدت إليه، فما كان كل ذلك؟! تضع آذار النفيسي في الجزء الرابع من الكتاب وفي بداية الفصل الثالث منه يدها على أكبر مشكلات الكت حسنًا إذًا .. انتهيت منه .. اخيرًا تتزاحم الأفكار في رأسي فعلاً لكتابة "تقرير" عن هذا الكتاب غير العادي .. بالتأكيد: ماذا أرادت منه المؤلفة؟! ما الرسائل التي تبثها من خلاله بشكل ضمني أو واضح؟! لمن توجه هذه الرسائل تحديدًا؟! كيف يستفيد قارئ هذا الكتاب الاستفادة القصوى منه، إن كان ثمة استفادة قصوى؟!! . طالت مدة مكوث هذا الكتاب بين يديَّ لأسباب متباينة، بل وقاطعته بغيره، وتركته ثم عدت إليه، فما كان كل ذلك؟! تضع آذار النفيسي في الجزء الرابع من الكتاب وفي بداية الفصل الثالث منه يدها على أكبر مشكلات الكتاب ـ فيما أرى ـ بطريقة اعترافية واضحة، سلكتها في أغلب فصول الكتاب وبين ثناياه، إذ تقول: بدو أنني أكاديمية أكثر مما يجب، لقد كتبت العديد من البحوث والمقالات لكي أستطيع التعبير عن أفكاري وتجاربي بطريقة سردية محكية، لكنني مع هذا لم أحقق غايتي المنشودة .على الرغم أن ذلك هو هدفي: أن أحكي وأسرد وأن أعيد اكتشافي مع كل هؤلاء الآخرين، لأنني ما إن ابتدئ كتابة حتى يفتح الطريق أمامي فأرى الإنسان الزائف وقد استعاد جوهره، وأرى الأسد وهو يستعيد شجاعته، ولكن ليس هذا فقط، وليست هذه قصتي، فأنا أسير على طريق مختلف لا أستطيع أن أرى نهايته، ولا أدري إلى أين يمضي بي ...... . هكذا إذًا تسير آذار في ثلاث مسارات متوازية متقاطعة، بين قراءة نصوص أدبية بعينها ومناقشتها، وبين نقد الثورة الإسلامية الإيرانية ووصفها لحالاتها بشكل يبدو عابرًا ولكنه مؤثر وفارق، وبين عرض قصتها/سيرتها الذاتية، وحكايات طالباتها .. وهي في كل مسار لو أخلصت فيه لخرجنا بكتاب عظيم، ولكنها شتت الذهن ـ في ظني ـ بين كل هذه الأشياء دفعة واحدة، فخرجنا بـ أن تقرأ ... في طهران! لم أستسغ تصدير "لوليتا" بطلة نابوكوف في اسم الكتاب، لاسيما أنه احتوى قراءات لعدة روايات أخرى ولكتاب آخرين، ولكن لاشك أن "لوليتا" تحمل رسالة أخرى لمجتمع آخر، أرى أن السيدة آذار نفيسي قصدت أن توجه له هذه الرسالة وتوضح له الصورة التي ربما تعجبه عن ثورة إسلامية قامت في إيـران ... ألا وهو المجتمع الأمريكي بالتأكيد ! فكرة نقد المرأة/ أو الرجل بالمناسبة لتصرفات المجتمعات العربية معها وذكر "القمع" وغياب الحريات بشتى أنواعها يتطرق لها العديد من الكتاب والروائيين سواء قامت ثورات أو لم تقم، وبطريقة خفية أحيانًا وفجة في أحايين كثيرة، ويواجه الأمر تارة بالمصادرة وتارات بالترحيب والحفاوة،، لا أريد أن أخرج عن سياق الحديث عن الكتاب، ولكن يكفي أن أشير إلا أن العالم قد تغيَّر وأن ما فعله غازي القصيبي ذات كتابة في "شقة الحرية" تجاوزته بنت الصانع في "بنات الرياض" .. . بعيدًا عن هذا كله يطرح الكتاب، أجمل ما فيه، فكرة مناقشة الأعمال الأدبية بشكل نقدي بسيط، ويستفز القارئ ـ لا سيما من حالفه الحظ فقرأ الأعمال التي تتحدث الكاتبة عنها ـ إلى التوقف دومًا خلال ما يقرأ على مواطن الجمال والقبح في النص، وكيف يشكِّل الكاتب عالمه، وكيف يسبغ على شخوصه من نفسياته، ومن رؤيته لأبطاله وللخير والشر، لقد أقامت "النفيسي" الدنيا وأقعدتها على "هيمبرت" (والطريف أني كنت قد نسيت اسمه أًصلاً) بطل "لوليتا" الذي بدا للقارئ رجلاً مغلوبًا على أمره أغوته فتاة لعوب هي "لوليتا" وكيف أن نابوكوف تآمر مع البطل /الرجل هذا لكي يجعل "لوليتا" في عرف القارئ، وبالتالي المجتمع امرأة ـ وهي الفتاة التي لم تتجاوز العاشرة من عمرها ـ يجعل منها مغوية ليتحول الرجل وبالتالي المجتمع لضحية مسكينة لتلك الفتاة الشيطانة ... في ظنِّي لو أن النفيسي اقتصرت على هذه الرواية، وعمَّقت تحليلها ونقدها، بل وعرضتها للمحاكمة كما فعلت مع روايات أخرى لكانت قد وفرت على نفسها وعلى القارئ الكثير،، هذه هي المرأة في نموذجها الألماني/الغربي .. مدعو التحرر إذًا ، فلا غرابة أن يراها مدعو الفضيلة والإسلاميين شيطانًا كذلك، ولكن النفيسي خرجت لعوالم أخرى، ربما لم تتعمق فيها بالقدر الكافي ـ فيما أرى ـ مثل رواية غاتسبي العظيم، وما تمثله من قيم أخلاقية وجمالية، وبطلات جين أوستن كذلك .. .. ولكن البساط ينسحب تدريجيًا ويتغيَّر العالم بالتأكيد ويبقى التركيز الجمالي على ملكة الخيال وموهبة الأدب، تلك التي تبدو بين ثنايا الكتاب في كل مرة، تداعب أحلام النفيسي، ولكنها لا توفيها حقها، هي أديبة ضلت الطريق ربما، لأن دراستها الأكاديمية ـ كما قالت ـ شغلتها عن الاستغراق في الخيال وكتابة نص أدبي كامل ربما تفعل ذلك "نسرين" ، ربما فعلته "مانا" التي بدأت تكتب الشعر فعلا وتقول لأستاذتها: (خمس سنوات مرت منذ بدأت القصة في غرفةِ أضاءتها الغيوم، حيث قرأنا "مدام بوفاري" وتناولنا الشوكولاته من طبقٍ بلون النبيذ الأحمر في صباحات الخميس، لم يتغيَّر شيء في الرتابة المتواصلة في حياتنا اليومية. بيد أنني في مكانِ ما من روحي أحس بأنني تغيرت ، ففي كل صباح ومع إشراقة الشمس الروتينية، وأنا أفيق من نومي وأضع حجابي أمام المرآة لكي أخرج من بيتي فأغدو جزءًا مما نسميه الواقع، أعلم كذلك بأنه ثمة "أنا" أخرى أصبحت عارية على صفحات كتابٍ من عالم آخر هو عالم الخيال، وأعلم أنني غدوت ثابتة خالدة .. وزلذا فإنني سأبقى حاضرة طالما أبقيتني نصب عينيك .. عزيزي القارئ" .. لقد وصلت رسالةآذار كاملة إلى طالباتها، وشعرن فعلاً بأنه لا حدود لعالمهم الأدبي الخيالي، وأنه لايمكن لأحد مهما بلغت قوته وجبروته أن يفرض وصاية على الروح .. وفي ظني مرة أخرى أنها لو كانت قصرت الكتاب على سيرة طالباتها وحكاياتهم، لكان كتابًا رائعًا، لكنها شاءت أن تجمع بين هذا كله .. . شكرًا للنفيسي على كل حال . . نسيت أمرًا هامًا جدًا وهو أن أشكر المترجمة ريم قيس .. لأن الترجمة احترافية جدًا .. أنا تقريبًا نسيت إن الكتاب مترجم :) للتحميل نسخة معدلة http://t.co/XobBGN1yqw

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kareena

    This was a tough read. I suppose I would have appreciated it more if I had read all the books that were referenced in this one. And if I studied literature, studied the meaning of every scene, every characterization, every image from the books, I might have appreciated it. Unfortunately this was much too deep and a serious study of literature. I enjoyed her accounts of life in Tehran and the characters in her book. I enjoyed her personal accounts and her life stories. Unfortunately true life was This was a tough read. I suppose I would have appreciated it more if I had read all the books that were referenced in this one. And if I studied literature, studied the meaning of every scene, every characterization, every image from the books, I might have appreciated it. Unfortunately this was much too deep and a serious study of literature. I enjoyed her accounts of life in Tehran and the characters in her book. I enjoyed her personal accounts and her life stories. Unfortunately true life was weaved into the fiction from novels i've never read, so I couldn't appreciate her insights and found her writing high-brow and much too seriously intellectual for me to read it without zoning out every so often. The middle parts of the book go into depth about her background and her life experiences which I found the most interesting. The beginning and end delve far too much into the literary world. I suppose if you're a serious student of literature this book is a gold. But me being a casual reader, it was hard to swallow.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    I read this book while I was down with the flu, which added a dimention to my reading as I was isolated in my room for a couple of days. I read some of the reviews for this book on Good Reads and I must say my experience of this book is quite different from what some other people have reported. Azar's opening two chapters were enough to suck me into her world and engross me. Her reading of Lolita was wonderful and I like the way she able to bring her reading of this book, her reflections on Humb I read this book while I was down with the flu, which added a dimention to my reading as I was isolated in my room for a couple of days. I read some of the reviews for this book on Good Reads and I must say my experience of this book is quite different from what some other people have reported. Azar's opening two chapters were enough to suck me into her world and engross me. Her reading of Lolita was wonderful and I like the way she able to bring her reading of this book, her reflections on Humbolt into the context of her own experiences in Tehran. One of the criticisms of this book that I read on Good Reads is that her reading material is too western centric - i.e. that she gives too much praise to the literature of America and therefore might give the American reader the impression that their lit is 'better' than Islamic or Iranian literature. I didn't read her book choices in this way. In a way, because America became such a central focus of hatred for the regime in Iran during the revolution she picked this material to demonstrate how biased and myopic this focus was, and how it failed to see the complexity of American life - i.e. that books like Lolita or the Great Gatsby were not recieved with one interpretation in America and that many of the criticisms leveled at those books in the Iranian context were also been discussed in America - i.e. that they were immoral or had flawed heros. She talks quite considerably about the difficulty of becoming as she calls it 'irrelevant' in her own country. She describes the constant scrutiny that women get on the streets if they are seen to be too alluring or if they wear 'pink socks' or let their nails grow or have a strand of hair fall out from under her head covering. I was thinking of this in the light of my own 'Australian' context. Obviously my life is not as restricted in terms of what I wear or how I choose to adorn or comport myself in public. In fact, these choices are fairly banal and mundane. Yet, for Azar this restriction caused her to examine aspects of herself and her society to work out what really mattered. Because the system made socks important, choosing to wear pink or striped socks became a subversive act. Beyond the immediate existential questions of how an individual is able to deal with having their public and private lives so micro managed, I also enjoyed her questioning of the effects of these policies on society as a whole and especially her understanding of the role of literature in allowing a person to understand complexity in life as a whole. I must say, when I read her passage about the 'trial' of the novel 'the great Gatsby' in her class, I experienced a different book than I had read. She managed to inject me with a wonderful sense of excitement and a desire to reread Gatsby with new eyes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lorenzo Berardi

    I hadn't read Nabokov's Lolita when I started this one. What aroused my curiosity here was not the artfully chosen title of the novel, but its setting: the Islamic Republic of Iran, formerly known as Persia. Truth be told, Iran has always interested me a lot, indeed. Amir, my best friend during secondary school, had Iranian roots and he was (and still is) one of the most clever persons I know. I used to say that when Amir and I were 12 year old, we talked about topics I haven't found anyone to s I hadn't read Nabokov's Lolita when I started this one. What aroused my curiosity here was not the artfully chosen title of the novel, but its setting: the Islamic Republic of Iran, formerly known as Persia. Truth be told, Iran has always interested me a lot, indeed. Amir, my best friend during secondary school, had Iranian roots and he was (and still is) one of the most clever persons I know. I used to say that when Amir and I were 12 year old, we talked about topics I haven't found anyone to speak with for at least the following ten years. We were keen on discussing stuff such as modern architecture, classical composers, politics, computer science and so on. (but we didn't forget girls, of course!). What a pity I've not been in touch with Amir over the last years. Anyway. Amir used to tell me a lot about Iran too and the same did a few years ago Ziba - a girl with Iranian roots - whom I met working as an estate agent. Ziba and Amir described me life in Teheran countless times, each with their own different views, telling me about their relatives there, the rise of ayatollah Khomeini and the fall of the Shah, Reza Pahlavi. Sometimes they were quite critical towards Iran, sometimes not. This book by Azar Nafisi gives an interesting portrait of the most turbulent period of Iran's history during the 1970s and the 1980s although coming from a sort of privileged narrator. The author comes from a rich Iranian family, she studied and then taught in the US so that some accused her to have abandoned her homecountry when the situation there got too hectic to bear. The book itself has two layers of interpretation. On the one hand, it aims to explain to young Iranians western literature, choosing perhaps not its greatest books (e.g. 'The Great Gatsby', 'Wuthering Heights', 'Lolita'). Mrs Nafisi recounts the private lessons she gave at her home talking about these forbidden novels with her students while sipping a cup of tea as if they were chatting in a reading club. On the other hand, professor Nafisi's lessons show the rising difficulties of having a free life in Teheran during Khomeini's revolution. Those were the dogmatic years coming straight after the Shah's clumsy attempts to westernise the country. All in a sudden, after having sported jeans or miniskirts, the Iranian women had to hide their bodies from head to toe. And yet, many an Iranian lady, didn't stop to make themselves up although behaving more meekly and discreetly than they did before. Someone might say this behaviour was only vanity, but I believe it was the best way to declare and reaffirm their independence as women and human beings. In this book there are many key moments about recent Iranian's history like the troubles at Teheran University, bloodsheds, the destructions of "dangerous" books, or Khomeini mass funerals which Nafisi describes better than a documentary. Sometimes "Reading Lolita in Tehran" looks like a counterposition between a secularist point of view and a strictly religious one, between a wide culture and a narrow fanaticism. Although this book is not what I might call a masterpiece. it was one of the most interesting and mind opening reads I had over the last years. (Review heavily corrected and partially changed in September 2014 as my written English, back in 2004, was no short than awful!)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Al

    المستحيلات أربع لا ثلاث: الغول والعنقاء والخل الوفي .. وأن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران. ففي إيران ما بعد الثورة أصبح كل شيء ممنوعًا ومصادرًا وغير مسموحٍ بتداوله فضلاً عن قراءته. فرقيب السلطة هو وحده من يقرر ما على الشعب أن يقرأه أو لا يقرأه، وهو الوحيد المخوّل بتحديد الخيارات المتاحة أمام القراء (وهي خيارات تتراوح في طبيعتها بين السيء إلى الأكثر سوءًا). أما القارئ/المواطن العادي فلا يمكنه أن يناقش الرقيب، أو يعترض عليه، أو حتى من باب أضعف الإيمان أن يبدي رأيه في الموضوع. وإلا كان مصيره الدخول في حربٍ خاسر المستحيلات أربع لا ثلاث: الغول والعنقاء والخل الوفي .. وأن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران. ففي إيران ما بعد الثورة أصبح كل شيء ممنوعًا ومصادرًا وغير مسموحٍ بتداوله فضلاً عن قراءته. فرقيب السلطة هو وحده من يقرر ما على الشعب أن يقرأه أو لا يقرأه، وهو الوحيد المخوّل بتحديد الخيارات المتاحة أمام القراء (وهي خيارات تتراوح في طبيعتها بين السيء إلى الأكثر سوءًا). أما القارئ/المواطن العادي فلا يمكنه أن يناقش الرقيب، أو يعترض عليه، أو حتى من باب أضعف الإيمان أن يبدي رأيه في الموضوع. وإلا كان مصيره الدخول في حربٍ خاسرة مع نظام لا يتورع عن تصفية خصومه بأبشع الطرق والوسائل! وهذا ما حصل مع أستاذة الأدب الإنجليزي آذر نفيسي، حيث دُفعت إلى خوض سجالات في قلب جامعة طهران حيث كانت تدرّس، انتهت بهزيمتها أمام تيار ظلامي لا يرحم، فطُردت من الجامعة شرّ طردة. ولأن كلّ ممنوعٍ يصبح بشكلٍ تلقائي مرغوبًا، ويكتسب إغراءً لا يقاوم، تقوم نفيسي بإنشاء ورشة دراسية حرة -بعيدًا عن عين الرقيب- في بيتها لسبع من طالباتها المميزات، فيمضين بحرية كاملة بدراسة السرد الأدبي بوصفه عالماً موازياً لعالم الواقع، ورغم أن هدف الورشة كان عقد حوارات مفتوحة حول روايات ممنوعة كلوليتا لفلاديمير نابوكوف وغاتسبي العظيم لفيتزجيرالد وغيرها، إلا أن الأصداء الخارجية سرعان ما تسللت إلى تلك الحلقة الضيقة حتى طغت عليها، وتحولت الورشة من حلقة لدراسة الروايات إلى منصة لمناقشة وتحليل الأوضاع السياسية في إيران في الفترة ما بين ١٩٨٠ إلى ١٩٩٧ وهو العام الذي غادرت فيه نفيسي إيران نهائيًا إلى أمريكا حيث كرست وقتها لتدوين هذه السيرة الروائية!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    I wrote this review before I read Jasmine and Stars. I was too generous to Nafisi. This book is very personal and my enjoyment of it is very much rooted in my experience of living with Iranian people in the UK and fascination with the country's history and culture. When I first read the book about ten years ago, I was astonished to read about how the 1979 revolution, which is seen by most Westerners as the triumph of Muslim extremists and had been described to me as the British/American led repla I wrote this review before I read Jasmine and Stars. I was too generous to Nafisi. This book is very personal and my enjoyment of it is very much rooted in my experience of living with Iranian people in the UK and fascination with the country's history and culture. When I first read the book about ten years ago, I was astonished to read about how the 1979 revolution, which is seen by most Westerners as the triumph of Muslim extremists and had been described to me as the British/American led replacement of the insufficiently compliant Shah, looked to Nafisi on the ground. Whatever the international machinations (she doesn't discuss them), it's clear that the internal push to unseat the dictatorial monarch was anti-imperialist, whether Marxist, nationalist or 'Islamist'. As Edward Said tells us, Orientalism ignores political and economic factors in the Middle East, tying every narrative to the rigid structure of its construction of Islam. What struck me on this reading, actually, was how closely aligned with Western ideas of Iran and of Islam Nafisi's perspectives seem to me. I recognise that it's totally ridiculous of me to say that but I'm going to say it anyway (she did spend 17 years studying in the USA before the period of teaching in Tehran described here) Of course, I'm not here to defend the regime that, as Nafisi says, reduced the age of consent for women from eighteen to nine, prescribed death by stoning as punishment for adultery, disappeared its dissidents and spat out their corpses, not to mention exiled my friends, but I am sceptical that things were really so great before the corrupt clerics came to power, especially for people of a lower social class than Nafisi. I'm also a bit depressed by her caustic dismissal of 'Islamic feminism' as an oxymoron. I know numerous Muslim feminists so I believe in them wholeheartedly. For Nafisi the veil, and specifically the imposition of the veil, is of great importance, and naturally I agree with her that imposing the hijab on women (NB the Quran does not tell women to veil and, I understand, characterises law as open to interpretation) robs them of meaningful self expression; women who choose to wear it cannot use it express their devotion to Islam, and women who otherwise would not are forced into a limiting uniform. I feel moreover, and I wish Nafisi was more nuanced on this, that the choice to wear the veil is more than self expression - I understand it not only as identity symbol but as an active part of a woman's faith practice and relationship to her faith and to society. To some wearing the veil is a feminist act (NB feminism is a multi-stranded ID-in movement so back off). All the more reason to despise a regime that strips women of agency, but not to question the integrity and agency of those who veil... This review is coming out all wrong! I sound like I don't empathise with Nafisi and her students, unable to dress the way they want in public, to write and say what they want without fear of incarceration, to sit in a cafe with unrelated men, to dance to music or watch films unmutilated by the censor. And also, this is Nafisi's memoir and I suspect I am engaging in cultural imperialism by complaining about how she chose to share her truth. Repeatedly, she talks about the regime's colonisation of public space and discourse. Surely I'd share her vehemence in her position. And her memoir is not devoid of nuance. Her students have different views and she respects them, and worries that she is painting the USA as a paradise for them and making them long to leave Iran. And of course, her love for traditional Iranian culture runs deep. Anyway what about the book? Is it good? Well, yes I think so. It reflects on classics of Western literature through the prism of middle-class academic women's experience in revolutionary Tehran. Or on the experience of living in Khomeini's Iran as an English teacher and mother via the values and metaphors of great authors of the Western tradition. And of course, the true stories of a diverse group of young women. Whichever way you want it, it's quite interesting. On her discussion of Austen, Nabokov et al, having read Decolonising the Mind I'm interested that she considers the 'universal' emotional aspects of the books AS their politics of liberation; in her situation the right to love and to feel is more keenly desired than, for example, economic equality; I'd like to witness a discussion between Nafisi and Ngugi wa Thiong'o about liberation!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    To read a book about women who read Lolita in Tehran is to open the window to a world of dismay, in which even an act so pure and simple as enjoying fiction is considered treason, punishable by the wrongly proclaimed authorities in your life. I am constantly on the lookout for books which challenge my view of the world, or who have the power to paint a picture of another way of life, that I have been fortunate enough to never experience. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is one of those books. By no mea To read a book about women who read Lolita in Tehran is to open the window to a world of dismay, in which even an act so pure and simple as enjoying fiction is considered treason, punishable by the wrongly proclaimed authorities in your life. I am constantly on the lookout for books which challenge my view of the world, or who have the power to paint a picture of another way of life, that I have been fortunate enough to never experience. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is one of those books. By no means am I stating that this is a perfect book. Far from it. A five star rating does not excuse shabby writing or clichee moments; it rather includes them. A good writer must, beyond everything else, convey a message by way of building a world. Azar Nafisi is a good writer. This work forces you to take your clothes off at the door, just as her students did their chadors when they entered her Thursday classes in her house. You cannot walk through it if you are clothed in all of your opinions, beliefs and thoughts as if they were an armor. This is not the place to stand up and voice your point of view - this is the place to sit down and listen attentively as someone else teaches you about their way of life. The timeline of this work encapsulates most of Nafisi's life as a liberal literature teacher in Tehran, living under constant pressure and threat because of the audacity she had to teach works of fiction that didn't support a political agenda: Nabokov, Austen, James, Fitzgerald, the list goes on. She encouraged her students to discuss the works of fiction not as if they were supposed to have real ties to the world, but as if they were only an exercise of imagination, directed at making us better people by increasing our ability to empathize with others. Nafisi was lucky - although here, as she says, the concept of fortune receives a very weird meaning - because she kept her life and integrity in a time when so many lost theirs. She paints a picture for the reader of the life she led, as well as the different lives of her female students who ended up following her in her home after she gave up formal teaching. In that room with a mirror in which the reflection of the mountains was hanged like a painting, they drank coffee, ate pastry and discussed their situation by discussing the characters in all of the books that had been denied by the regime. I've read some reviews on the book and many readers were put off by the 'tone' which Nafisi uses, giving herself more importance than maybe she had, speaking of her acts as if they were revolutionary. Yes, she does. Because yes, they were. In a world where reading fiction can get you killed, reading fiction becomes a revolution in itself. I only read and felt the voice of a woman who, without thinking about the consequences, tried to keep as much of her integrity as possible, whilst pursuing her passion: teaching. Her situation had been different than the other girls', and she had been more fortunate in growing up in a liberal family. But the courage to act in a repressive system does not base itself on who you were in the past: it has everything to do with who you choose to be in this very second. A good teacher must show you what you yourself can be capable of. Nafisi was a good teacher. I'm confident that this should be read by women all across the world, especially in the times that we live in. For someone who has a better-than-average knowledge of the social and cultural system of Islam in relation to women, I still found it a wonderfully eye-opening read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    More than a combination of literary criticism and memoirs of living through the totalitarian ruthlessness of Islamist-ruled Iran, this book essentially examines how the author and a group of friends took refuge in literature from the totalitarian nightmare. And at the same time using that literature to make sense of life under Islamo-Nazi repression. The women in the group are able to make analogies of the works of Vladimir Nabokov, Jane Austen, Henry James and F Scott Fitzgerald with the society More than a combination of literary criticism and memoirs of living through the totalitarian ruthlessness of Islamist-ruled Iran, this book essentially examines how the author and a group of friends took refuge in literature from the totalitarian nightmare. And at the same time using that literature to make sense of life under Islamo-Nazi repression. The women in the group are able to make analogies of the works of Vladimir Nabokov, Jane Austen, Henry James and F Scott Fitzgerald with the society in which they live. The villain of Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert, rapes a twelve year old girl and thus the book is about the confiscation of one individuals life by another. Humbert has tried to shape another soul according to his own hopes and dreams. So the author is taking revenge on the Ayatollah and the Mullahs for confiscating the lives of the people of Iran, for their war against women. This is a society in which girls are punished most brutally for wearing coloured shoe laces, running in the school yard or licking ice cream in public. Where women are flogged for wearing nail polish. Marxist and left wing feminists in the West pour scorn on taking up the cause of oppressed women in Iran, as the Iranian Marxists did at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, before they themselves became victims. "They claimed that there were bigger fish to fry' the author explains "That the imperialists and their lackeys need to be dealt with first. Focusing on women's rights was individualistic and bourgeois and played into their hands" "What imperialists?" asks the author acting as a much needed voice of true conscience 'Do you mean those battered and bruised faces on television confessing to their crimes? Do you mean the prostitutes they recently stoned to death, or my former school principal Mrs Parsa, who like the prostitutes was accused of "corruption on earth", "sexual offences", and "violation of decency and morality" for having been the minister of education. For which offenses was she put in a sack and then shot or stoned to death. Are those the lackeys you are talking about, and is it in order to wipe these people out that we have to not protest?" Azar Nafisi has been indeed accused by leftist and Islamist radicals in the West of serving the 'imperialist' or 'neoconservative' cause by writing this novel. So once again the dreams of the people of Iran to enjoy the same freedom , Nafisi's leftwing critics in the West enjoy are denied. Like Humbert in Lolita, the Western Left want to confiscate the lives of the long-suffering people of Iran and shape them according to the formers own hopes and dreams. Like Humbert and like all great myth makers they try to fashion reality of their dream and end up destroying reality and their dream? Nafisi is a true feminist who really cares about the rights and welfare of women unlike so many left wing self-styled feminists in the West, who want people moulded according to their ideals, and have never spoken up for the persecution of women by Islamists, for their own selfish reason

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    While I was reading this book, I was taken back in my mind to my college days. I enjoyed the philosophy behind the books these women studied and was unmistakably reminded of why I have always loved reading so much. I have not read all of the books discussed in the story, but many of them are on my to-read list, and now I am even more eager to read them.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Naila

    Just...ugh. Apart from the simplicity of the narrative, (self-centered narrator preaches empathy and a nuanced understanding of humanity via fiction while exulting herself over her nasty, brainwashed students who's arguments she takes great pride in trampling over and and telling us about later), the book is just...bad. The attempted literary connections are so, so forced, and it's definitely more frothy memoir than anything else. The sort of book where the author starts every other sentence with Just...ugh. Apart from the simplicity of the narrative, (self-centered narrator preaches empathy and a nuanced understanding of humanity via fiction while exulting herself over her nasty, brainwashed students who's arguments she takes great pride in trampling over and and telling us about later), the book is just...bad. The attempted literary connections are so, so forced, and it's definitely more frothy memoir than anything else. The sort of book where the author starts every other sentence with things like "Imagine you're taking a walk..." and "I can still hear her voice...," and is filled with cutesy references to her cutesy eccentricities that absolutely charmed her friends and anguished her (obviously jealous, mindless, and repressed) foes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    رنا

    سألت إحدى قارئات تلك السيرة لم اعطيتيه نجمة واحدة قالت بسبب الملل لم أجد مللاً قط فيه بل روح نقية تسري داخل الكتاب و وصف مستفيض أحبه بلغة جميلة في وصف جلسات البنات و حكاياهن عن الروايات و في نقد آذر لبعض الروايات كلوليتا و دعوة لقطع العنق لنابوكوف و غاتشبي العظيم لفيتزجيرالد و ديزي ميللر و ميدان واشنطن لهنري جيمس و روايات اوستن لم تقتصر السيرة على الأدب فقط بل على الحياة في ايران استطاعت آذر أن تمزج بين الأدب و الجمهورية الاسلامية قلقت بعض الشئ من آذر كونها متحررة كثيرًا و أنها من الممكن أن تكون سألت إحدى قارئات تلك السيرة لم اعطيتيه نجمة واحدة قالت بسبب الملل لم أجد مللاً قط فيه بل روح نقية تسري داخل الكتاب و وصف مستفيض أحبه بلغة جميلة في وصف جلسات البنات و حكاياهن عن الروايات و في نقد آذر لبعض الروايات كلوليتا و دعوة لقطع العنق لنابوكوف و غاتشبي العظيم لفيتزجيرالد و ديزي ميللر و ميدان واشنطن لهنري جيمس و روايات اوستن لم تقتصر السيرة على الأدب فقط بل على الحياة في ايران استطاعت آذر أن تمزج بين الأدب و الجمهورية الاسلامية قلقت بعض الشئ من آذر كونها متحررة كثيرًا و أنها من الممكن أن تكون قد صورت بعض مما حدث من اعتقالات و اعدام بصورة مبالغ فيها ! و خصوصًا أنها ترى أشياء يمكن السماح بها لا أراها هكذا كأكل لحم الهام "الخنزير" و شرب الخمر و كونها بالأصل لا ترتدي الحجاب لكن فهمت من ثنايا الكتاب ان الحياة في أجواء مثل تلك يجعل الكل واحد ! الكل خائف حتى المتدينين أنفسهم لان الجمهورية لم تكن تريد الشريعة بقدر ما تريد الاستبداد باسم الشريعة أفكار نفيسي يمكن أن تكون مختلفة عني بقدر كبير و لكن حينما أراها كأديبة أنسى كل ذلك الاختلاف أعتقد أن الكتاب كان تنفيس لغضب آذر لم تكن تولول في الكتاب او تزعق بل كانت الى حد ما نبرتها هادئة و متسامحة و كما قالت : حينما سأكتب عن كل ذلك .. ربما أكون أكثر تسامحًا و أقل غضبًا... وكما لامت الجمهورية الاسلامية لامت المعارضة بتفرقها ! وصفت آذر بعض مشاهد السجن و المظاهرات و القهر الحاصل هناك و على الرغم من اختلاف المشاهد بيننا و بين ايران الا ان طريقة التفكير واحدة ! حكت آذر عن أحد الشخصيات المرشحة و أنها رأت لافتة مكتوب عليها : إيران تقع في الحب مرة أخرى !! المقصود بها المرشح لؤلؤة السيرة كانت في جلسات طالبات آذر معها و الحكايا و أوقات الراحة المسموح فيها بالثرثرة و التي اتسعت مع مرور الوقت و مع معرفتهن أكثر ببعض كانت نفيسي طيلة الكتاب تطلق عليهم كلمة "بناتي" :) أحببت الكلمة لم أنس محاكمة غاتسبي بالمحاضرة الفكرة التي ابتدعتها آذر محاكاة لما يحدث بالواقع من محاكمات و السجال ما بين دفاع عن الرواية و اتهام الرواية لم أجد كتاب أكثر متعةو تمرد و ألم منه حين تتلاقى عينيّ مع أحداث مشابهة ولو من بعيد مع واقعي أو حينما أحدث نفسي ب : آذر تقصدني أنا بتلك الجملة و الغصة الدائمة بالحلق معظم أوقات الرواية !! كم وددت لو أجلس هناك ببيتها و ظهري لجبال طهران البعيدة و التي أراها بالمرآة المقابلة لي و بيدي كوب قهوة تركية من يد نزهت نفيسي والدة آذر

  23. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This book is a must read for all those who love modern classic literature and who are interested on what happened in Iran during the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80s. I was in college that time and I have been hearing and reading bits of news about that war. This book completed that story particularly its impact on the ordinary people particularly on its main characters. Azar Nafisi, a lady author, effectively related her favorite modern fiction works (Lolita of This book is a must read for all those who love modern classic literature and who are interested on what happened in Iran during the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80s. I was in college that time and I have been hearing and reading bits of news about that war. This book completed that story particularly its impact on the ordinary people particularly on its main characters. Azar Nafisi, a lady author, effectively related her favorite modern fiction works (Lolita of Nabokov, Gatsby of Fitzgerald, Daisy Miller of Henry James and Pride and Prejudice of Jane Austen) in this tumultuous era of Iran's rich history. Lolita was used as the back draft for the reading group's introduction of the women characters and how the Lolita's rape could be compared to the discrimination (symbolizes by the wearing of veil) that women in Iran suffered from its own laws. The trial of Gatsby built the climax of the story by providing the contrast between the belief of the Nafisi's male characters with their counterparts in THE GREAT GATSBY. The Iran-Iraq war happened at the height of the plot's climax interwined with the Henry James' novels particularly Daisy Miller. Here the female characters suffered the most but they chose to be brave, just like Daisy. Finally, the most interesting contrast was provided by Jane Austen's novels and the end of the war. Interesting because Austen's English novels were described by Nafisi as like a big dance which for me takes a genius to relate it to a war-torn Moslem country after about a decade of war. I have read most of the novels mentioned except the third part: James. This is the reason why I almost enjoyed reading all the pages of the book as I knew what Nafisi was trying to say through the characters she borrowed from the literary greats (Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and Austen). There are equally great other books and authors and this just proves that Nafisi knows her stuff. I have never encountered this writing style before so I am giving this book a five star rating.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    An outstanding account by a literature professor of keeping the life of imagination alive through shared experience of fiction during the repressive decades of fundamentalist Muslim rule in Iran. The rise of Khomeini after the downfall of the corrupt regime of the Shah in the late 70's ushered in a cultural revolution that purged the universities of anyone who seemed to support decadent Western values and made the wearing of the veil (or chador) mandatory for women in public settings. Nafisi sur An outstanding account by a literature professor of keeping the life of imagination alive through shared experience of fiction during the repressive decades of fundamentalist Muslim rule in Iran. The rise of Khomeini after the downfall of the corrupt regime of the Shah in the late 70's ushered in a cultural revolution that purged the universities of anyone who seemed to support decadent Western values and made the wearing of the veil (or chador) mandatory for women in public settings. Nafisi survives in her position for awhile by her even handed approach to the negative sensibilities both leftist radicals and conservative Muslims as they work their way through older English literature, such as Henry James and Jane Austen. When the underlying themes of being true to love despite parental or social disapproval are seen as threatening values to such students, she has the class stage a mock trial of a novel for immorality, specifically of Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Eventually Nafisi is fired from the University of Tehran for not wearing the veil. The long war with Iraq makes it even more important to her to nurture the life of the mind, and she returns to teaching at another university (this time with a veil). To promote a more free discussion of literature, she starts a secret reading group in her own home, allowing an approach to more blatantly controversial novels, such as Nabokov's Lolita. This class is where Nafisi's book starts and returns to as the narrative moves back and forth in time. We learn much about the varied lives of her students as they take varied pathways of accommodation or rebellion in a society that cannot succeed in stamping out their vibrant spirits. A very enriching and hope inspiring read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    piperitapitta

    La bellezza e l'inferno [commento a fine lettura] Se Azar Nafisi, nel 1997, non avesse lasciato definitivamente l'Iran alla volte degli Stati Uniti, probabilmente avremmo sentito parlare anche di lei da Roberto Saviano in quella bellissima puntata speciale di Che Tempo fa andata in onda a novembre; ed è per questo che gli rubo il titolo di un suo libro per quello del mio commento, perché la sua denuncia merita comunque di iscriverla in quella categoria di autori nonostante, e fortunatamente, non a La bellezza e l'inferno [commento a fine lettura] Se Azar Nafisi, nel 1997, non avesse lasciato definitivamente l'Iran alla volte degli Stati Uniti, probabilmente avremmo sentito parlare anche di lei da Roberto Saviano in quella bellissima puntata speciale di Che Tempo fa andata in onda a novembre; ed è per questo che gli rubo il titolo di un suo libro per quello del mio commento, perché la sua denuncia merita comunque di iscriverla in quella categoria di autori nonostante, e fortunatamente, non abbia pagato con la propria vita o con l'isolamento il suo coraggio: anche se già l'esilio volontario mi sembra una violenza sufficiente. Potrebbe rientrare a pieno titolo nell'elenco di quegli scrittori e di quei giornalisti, testimoni del proprio tempo, che hanno deciso di mettere la propria sensibilità e la propria capacità di comunicare al servizio della società. Azar Nafisi, professoressa di Letteratura inglese all'Università di Teheran, decide di farlo attraverso il suo lavoro e la sua passione: l'insegnamento della letteratura inglese e americana, in un'epoca, quella a cavallo con la Rivoluzione islamica nel 1979, in cui invece l'obiettivo degli integralisti è quello di censurare e demonizzare tutto quello che proviene dall'occidente. Il compito che si prefigge la Nafisi, che organizza un seminario con alcune delle sue migliori allieve tra le mura della sua abitazione, al riparo dagli occhi vigili dei repressori e dei censori, è quello di lasciare alle sue ragazze "una finestra aperta sul mondo". Lo studio di Nabokov, Austen, Fitzgerald e James e delle loro opere, permetterà più che di "sognare" la libertà di costumi e di pensiero dell'occidente, di analizzare, quasi di sezionare, il carattere e lo spirito interiore dei personaggi che le popolano. Devo essere sincera, in un testo di tale portata emotiva, perché è innegabile fare un raffronto continuo con le nostre opportunità e le nostre continue possibilità di scelta in ogni campo o attività, non mi interessa il valore letterario dell'opera o la capacità stilistica dell'autrice; questo non è un romanzo, è un documento, è storia viva e come tale deve essere valutato e giudicato: è un libro capace di scatenare emozioni, ragionamenti e valutazioni e che offre diversi livelli di lettura e angolazioni da osservare gli eventi. Quello storico, perché narra la storia di un popolo vicinissimo a noi, densa di avvenimenti e di capovolgimenti di fronte (è incredibile quando l'autrice raffronta l'adolescenza della sua generazione con quella delle sue allieve, paradossalmente più libera e spensierata: chi riesce a pensare ad un Iran dove le donne passeggiano senza velo, parlano liberamente di cinema e letteratura, ma soprattutto lo fanno con chi vogliono, quando vogliono e dove vogliono?) eppure così lontano da noi e da quella culla della civiltà che è stato con i Persiani. Quello letterario, perché, seppur a volte un po' pedanti, tutte le sue riflessioni su Vladimir Nabokov, Jane Austen, Henry James e Francis Scott Fitzgerald, sono piene di ardore e di passione, di dedizione e di rinnovato stupore e non fanno altro che rinverdire i ricordi delle nostre letture o di stimolarne di nuove. Quello emotivo ma, soprattutto quello femminile: perché è la donna che in Iran è quotidianamente violentata sotto tutti i punti di vista, e forse (quando ciò avviene), quello fisico è solo l'aspetto esteriore della violenza subita: la punta dell'iceberg. Il tentativo di annientamento psicologico delle donne, da parte degli integralisti, è qualcosa di demoniaco, da far gridare al sacrilegio: eppure è camuffato da religione. L'empatia e l'immedesimazione sono istintive: da donna a donna. La privazione di tutto, soprattutto dei sogni e del futuro, sono quello che le autorità iraniane impongono giorno dopo giorno ai danni delle donne in maniera particolare, ma anche a tutta una generazione alla quale, poco alla volta, credono di riuscire a far dimenticare cosa volesse dire essere liberi. Doveva essere bello leggere Lolita a Teheran, ma anche Orgoglio e Pregiudizio, oppure Daisy Miller, oppure Il Grande Gatsby guardando le montagne innevate, o in quelle piccole sale da tè mangiando un dolcetto ricoperto di miele. Doveva essere bello leggere Lolita a Teheran con il vento che scompigliava i capelli. Grazie a Azar Nafisi e alle donne come lei è ancora possibile ricordarlo. [commento in corso di lettura] Dentro un libro la storia: la storia intorno a noi. Leggere "Leggere Lolita a Teheran" e sentirsi dentro la storia. È di oggi la notizia di nuovi scontri all'Università di Teheran. Mentre leggo il romanzo biografico di Azar Nafisi, che narra della rivoluzione islamica e degli scontri all'Università di Teheran dei primissimi anni '80, mi accorgo che tutto cambia e tutto si trasforma, tranne qualcosa: ci sono popoli che sembrano aver perso per sempre il proprio diritto alla vita e alla "normalità".

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    In the shadows of all the bluster coming out of Iran these days, I try to remember those stories I've heard about Iranians who do not share the religious fervor of their political leaders and long for a more open society than the one that they currently have. Azar Nafisi's memoir about her life as a literature professor in Tehran the years following the revolution gave me a moving and painful glimpse into the lives of those who chafe under a kind of repression that I can only imagine. Nafisi was In the shadows of all the bluster coming out of Iran these days, I try to remember those stories I've heard about Iranians who do not share the religious fervor of their political leaders and long for a more open society than the one that they currently have. Azar Nafisi's memoir about her life as a literature professor in Tehran the years following the revolution gave me a moving and painful glimpse into the lives of those who chafe under a kind of repression that I can only imagine. Nafisi was an idealistic young professor when she first returned to Iran to teach in the wake of the revolution. She recounts with clear insight how her own revolutionary leanings and political naiveté gave way to a growing sense of dread as she realized that the political changes wrought by the revolution were much more of the frying-pan-into-the-fire variety than anything else. Like all good memoirs, Nafisi's account of her own struggles against the growing restrictions placed on her both as a woman and an academic gave me a powerful sense of what it must have been like for those women who saw their freedom snatched away in the name of a rigid ideology. There were many moments in this book that left me with a haunting, visceral sense of events I hope I never experience: the worry that can erupt when a friend's failure to show up for an appointment immediately conjures up images of secret police, torture, and permanent disappearance, or the sheer disbelief at a failed state plot to murder nearly two dozen troublesome writers. Nafisi learned to cope with the grim reality around her by escaping into the world she loved best, that of the literature she taught on and off at various universities during her stay. During her last years, she ran a private class for female students in which they discussed the works of Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and Austin. The lessons she and her students learn from these books are intricately woven through the personal stories of the girls themselves. One might think the veiled women of the Islamic Republic would have little in common with the heroines such as Daisy Miller or Elizabeth Bennet, yet Nafisi's eloquent tale makes clear that the power of literature to help us better understand ourselves transcends borders, cultures, and the repression of ideological systems that cannot comprehend the complex, gray shades of human nature literature is so good at revealing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ريم الصالح

    كم أشعرُ بالامتلاء في هذهِ اللحظات، والخفة كذلك..! هذا الكتابُ توحدَ بي بشدة.. توحد بي عميقاً.. أخذتُ أعيشهُ كما لو أنني إحدى طالباتُ آذر قرب نافذة الغيوم على طاولة الطعام والقهوة التركية المجيدة.! كيف يمكن لكتابٍ أن يؤلمكَ إلى هذا الحد، ثم يربت على جرحكَ الصغير.! أن يقسو عليك حتى تستشيظ غضباً، ثم يخلق لكَ أكثر اللحظات حميميةً وتخيلاً.!! آذر نفيسي، لقد باتت هذه المرأة أماً روحيةً لا تنفك تهمسُ لي (ألا تخافي).! تأخذكَ إلى أروقة جامعة طهران (والتي اطلعت عليها حقيقةً عبر برنامج ال قوقل ايرث)، والجماعات ا كم أشعرُ بالامتلاء في هذهِ اللحظات، والخفة كذلك..! هذا الكتابُ توحدَ بي بشدة.. توحد بي عميقاً.. أخذتُ أعيشهُ كما لو أنني إحدى طالباتُ آذر قرب نافذة الغيوم على طاولة الطعام والقهوة التركية المجيدة.! كيف يمكن لكتابٍ أن يؤلمكَ إلى هذا الحد، ثم يربت على جرحكَ الصغير.! أن يقسو عليك حتى تستشيظ غضباً، ثم يخلق لكَ أكثر اللحظات حميميةً وتخيلاً.!! آذر نفيسي، لقد باتت هذه المرأة أماً روحيةً لا تنفك تهمسُ لي (ألا تخافي).! تأخذكَ إلى أروقة جامعة طهران (والتي اطلعت عليها حقيقةً عبر برنامج ال قوقل ايرث)، والجماعات الثوروية.. إلى شعارات الخميني وفساد الجمهورية الإسلامية..! تأخذكَ إلى "معضلة الحرية" في إيران.. إلى ضياع حقوق المرأة بالكامل في تلك البقعة من الأرض.. تأخذكَ إلى الرقص الإيراني، حتى تغويك لتفتح اليوتيوب وتعيش اللحظة المباغتة.. تماما كما فعلت بي.!! ثم تأخذكَ إلى طالباتها.. أولئكَ اللواتي ستخلقهن بقربكَ كما لو أنك معهن في ذات غرفة الطعام الأليقة.. آذين الجريئة بطلاء أظافرها الأحمر، مانا الشاعرة الناعمة التي ستبكيك في نهاية الكتاب، ياسي الراقصة ذات الجسد الممتلئ، ساناز وميترا ومهشيد ونسرين.. تظن بأنك يجب أن تحفظ كل واحدةٍ كي لا تضيع في الحكاية، لكنك في الواقع ستعيش معهن.!! سترسم الصور لتلكم النسوة..! ولتكن عادلاً، فلا تحكم على إخلاقهن لأنهن تحدثن بكل صراحة... ستصل للحظة، بأن تلتهم الأوراق قراءةً وأنت تشعر بالذنب في سرك عندما تعي بأن الباقي قليل.. قليل جداً سأكتفي لهذا الحد وأقول، بأن هذا الكتاب صورةٌ بديعةٌ من الأدب، لابد أن (تُعـاش).. لا تنسوا أكوابَ القهوة المقدسة، حين تهموا بالقراءة..

  28. 5 out of 5

    Areej M.

    3 نجمات على مبدأ انتهاج الوسطية ! محير هذا الكتاب الذي عمل على 3 محاور ايضاً ... تحاول السيدة نفيسي ان تقرأ ايران من خلال روايات الادب الامريكي تقرأ لوليتا ، ولـ جويس، اوستن. تتحدث عن ايران ما بعد الثورة: ايران الجمهورية الاسلامية، وعن الرقيب الاعمى، وعن شخصنة السياسة لدرجة يتحول فيها طلاء الاظافر الى خيانة. كان يمكننا ان تعاطف جداً مع السيدة نفيسي وعن النساء الجميلات الثائرات اللواتي يحاولنا قول لأ ... كان يمكننا ان نفعل ذلك لو ان السيدة نفيسي توقفت فعلاً عند منتصف الكتاب، ولم تحاول ان تعيده في الج 3 نجمات على مبدأ انتهاج الوسطية ! محير هذا الكتاب الذي عمل على 3 محاور ايضاً ... تحاول السيدة نفيسي ان تقرأ ايران من خلال روايات الادب الامريكي تقرأ لوليتا ، ولـ جويس، اوستن. تتحدث عن ايران ما بعد الثورة: ايران الجمهورية الاسلامية، وعن الرقيب الاعمى، وعن شخصنة السياسة لدرجة يتحول فيها طلاء الاظافر الى خيانة. كان يمكننا ان تعاطف جداً مع السيدة نفيسي وعن النساء الجميلات الثائرات اللواتي يحاولنا قول لأ ... كان يمكننا ان نفعل ذلك لو ان السيدة نفيسي توقفت فعلاً عند منتصف الكتاب، ولم تحاول ان تعيده في الجزء الثاني بطريقة مملة. لم تكف عن الشكوى، ومحاولة الهروب لا المواجهة، لم تكف عن تعليق المشاكل على شماعة واحدة، سعدت جداً انها لم تتردد في نقل هذا الشعور الذي اصابني على لسان ساحرها. اتخذت نفيسي الحجاب هدف ممتازاً لتوجيه قذائفها ضد النظام، بطريقة بدت سطحية، وتجلى ذلك عندما تبنت قول ابنتها نيغاز عند موت الخميني "لا لم يمت ما زالت النساء يرتدين الاشاربات". المرعب في هذا الكتاب ان احداثه تعيد نفسها الآن في مكان آخر مع أناس أخرين، كم سخيف هذا التاريخ حين لا نستفيد منه، ان نظن أننا اكثر حنكة من الأخرين لنقبل بكل جرأة على تكرار تجربتهم وتوقع نتائج مغايرة لأننا فقط مختلفون !!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dolceluna

    Documento testimonianza sulla storia della Repubblica Iraniana degli ultimi trent'anni e al contempo atto d'amore e riconoscenza nei confronti del potere salvifico della letteratura. A scriverla è una docente universitaria che per anni si batte, con dignità e ostinazione, per i diritti delle donne, la libertà di azione e pensiero e la diffusione della letteratura occidentale nel suo paese, un paese devastato da disordini, odi e violenze di ogni genere: istituisce corsi universitari e circoli let Documento testimonianza sulla storia della Repubblica Iraniana degli ultimi trent'anni e al contempo atto d'amore e riconoscenza nei confronti del potere salvifico della letteratura. A scriverla è una docente universitaria che per anni si batte, con dignità e ostinazione, per i diritti delle donne, la libertà di azione e pensiero e la diffusione della letteratura occidentale nel suo paese, un paese devastato da disordini, odi e violenze di ogni genere: istituisce corsi universitari e circoli letterari con le sue studentesse duranti i quali incoraggia alla discussione e alla critica di alcune delle opere di grandi scrittori occidentali (Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James e Austen) trovando in esse parellelismi con la storia del suo paese. A dimostrazione che la letteratura può essere quel collant in grado di unire menti, cuori e pensieri diversi nei momenti più improbabili e difficili, aprendo la mente, stimolando il confronto, infondendo la forza di andare avanti nonostante tutto il resto. E' l'apertura verso altri mondi, è evasione, è speranza, è vita. "Leggere Lolita a Teheran" ha tutti gli attributi per essere definito un gran bel romanzo: testimonia le vicende storiche di un paese arricchendo le proprie conoscenze (sebbene, a tal proposito, a mio avviso richieda già qualche nozione propria di base), ha uno stile raffinato ed evocativo, alterna parti descrittive e dialogate in maniera calibrata. E' un libro che parla di libri, di letture, di donne, di dolori, di storia, ed è terribilmente attuale. Quello che mi è mancato è stato quel "pathos" che si crea nell'intima comunanza fra lettore e libro, quell'emozione data dall'empatia e della partecipazione. Mi ha arricchita ma non mi ha emozionata nè appassionata, insomma, non mi è entrato dentro nonostante il prezioso valore che gli riconosco. E, oltre a ciò ho trovato poca unità e continuità fra le parti che lo compongono, con salti temporali e d'azione che non sempre mi sono risultati chiari (il circolo di studentesse reimpie il primo capitolo poi ritorna nel terzo, non è chiaro se ciò che accade in mezzo sia una digressione o meno). Il risultato complessivo è comunque quello di un romanzo più che buono.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Iqbal Al-Zirqi

    This was a book wich introduced me to Azar Nafisi and her life in Iran before and during the Islamic revolution. I have to admit that when I started reading the book, I was slightley restless with the way she was describing each girl student who was joining her class at her house. However, little by little, I could not sleep whole nights before finishing it. The thing is that Nafisi is very clever author who knows how to attract you in a sneaky way. She pulled me to the atmosphere of the Iran un This was a book wich introduced me to Azar Nafisi and her life in Iran before and during the Islamic revolution. I have to admit that when I started reading the book, I was slightley restless with the way she was describing each girl student who was joining her class at her house. However, little by little, I could not sleep whole nights before finishing it. The thing is that Nafisi is very clever author who knows how to attract you in a sneaky way. She pulled me to the atmosphere of the Iran under the revolution, the impact of this revolution on women, and even on children, and she managed to relate this all to Lolita, the young innocent girl who was both a victim of her stepfather and also of herself. It was maginificent to thinks about the psycological aspects of opression by religious revolution and its men. Her way of taking you to Iran under the revolution, was so indirect, but at the same time, so intense!! It was horrifying most to see how the intellectual freedom, the questioning in the University of Tehran was affected in a more dramatic way than just covering women. The internal story of each girl in her gathering at home, her internal story, her friends, her professors, were all part of the chain that captured me reading and living in this book. The way she described American novels and their main characters gave a lot of depth to the psycological atmosphere of opressing freedom in different societies. The book is big, but it flows easily with the reader. I loved this book and I recommend it strongly.

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