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Reading Lolita in Tehran

A Memoir in Books
Nafisi, Azar (Book - 2004 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Reading Lolita in Tehran


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Prof. Nafisi resigned from her job as professor of English Literature at a university in Tehran in 1995 due to repressive government policies. For the next 2 years, until she left Iran, she gathered 7 young women, former students, at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss works of Western literature forbidden by the new regime. They used this forum to learn to speak freely, not only about literature, but also about the social, political, and cultural realities of living under strict Islamic rule.
Authors: Nafisi, Azar
Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran
a memoir in books
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, c2004.
Edition: Trade pbk. ed.
Characteristics: 356 p. ;,21 cm.
Notes: Includes readers guide p. [351]-353.
Summary: Prof. Nafisi resigned from her job as professor of English Literature at a university in Tehran in 1995 due to repressive government policies. For the next 2 years, until she left Iran, she gathered 7 young women, former students, at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss works of Western literature forbidden by the new regime. They used this forum to learn to speak freely, not only about literature, but also about the social, political, and cultural realities of living under strict Islamic rule.
Local Note: 6 15 53 109 122 133 143 151 153 203 210 216 228 274 276 278
ISBN: 081297106X
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Report This Mar 28, 2013
  • bwortman rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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

Report This Jul 12, 2012
  • dallawaym rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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

Report This Jun 23, 2011
  • AureliaReads rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

A very unusual book. Some of the facts of life for the narrator/author were hard to read. Such arbitrarily imposed changes, such wild swings in what is allowed or not allowed; the contrast between life outside and inside Iran. I found that aspect of the book moving and would recommend the first hundred pages or so -- just for that aspect of the book. I have read many of the books they discussed (except Nabokov) but still grew impatient with the constant literary commentary. Clever idea as our frame to view the "students" and their lives, but it felt overused, The allegory and parallels I think Nafisi was trying to make us see (via the commentary on the books) just became too much work and too much repetition.

Report This Nov 08, 2010
  • kowleen rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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

Report This May 11, 2010
  • blolo rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

this book wasn't what I was expecting, but it was will very good. i thought it would be more about the stories and lives of the women in the reading group, but instead it is much more about how the books were being interpreted and what the novels came to symbolize to these women. its a book about the importance of literature... i enjoyed it!

Report This Aug 08, 2009
  • Aim_for_peace rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I knew nothing about Iranian history when I started this book. Sometimes I read with my computer close at hand so I could google things as I went. Normally this would detract from my reading experience, but I loved the main character so much that I was happy to do it, if only to understand her world a bit better.

Report This Jul 28, 2005
  • AdrienneC rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

In the repressive atmosphere of Tehran under strict Islamic rule, author Nafisi -- a former university professor -- secretly gathers a group of women to discuss works of literature. The women shed their veils when they meet, and eventually shed their shyness as well. Despite stellar reviews, this book didn''t really move me. I think the fact that I haven''t recently read many of the books the women discussed affected my response to READING LOLITA, as well as my general dislike for literary analysis.

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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, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitgerald, Henry James and Vladimir Nabokov. This is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny. 356p.

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