Wintersalen Sale
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Tour our stores


    Recently Viewed clear list



    spacer

This item may be
out of stock.

Click on the button below to search for this title in other formats.


Check for Availability
Add to Wishlist

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

by

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. On her first day teaching at the University of Tehran, Azar Nafisi began class with the questions, “What should fiction accomplish? Why should anyone read at all?” What are your own answers? How does fiction force us to question what we often take for granted?

2. Yassi adores playing with words, particularly with Nabokovs fanciful linguistic creation upsilamba (18). What does the word upsilamba mean to you?

3. In what ways had Ayatollah Khomeini “turned himself into a myth” for the people of Iran (246)? Also, discuss the recurrent theme of complicity in the book: that the Ayatollah, the stern philosopher-king, “did to us what we allowed him to do” (28).

4. Compare attitudes toward the veil held by men, women and the government in the Islamic Republic of Iran. How was Nafisis grandmothers choice to wear the chador marred by the political significance it had gained? (192) Also, describe Mahshids conflicted feelings as a Muslim who already observed the veil but who nevertheless objected to its political enforcement.

5. In discussing the frame story of A Thousand and One Nights, Nafisi mentions three types of women who fell victim to the kings “unreasonable rule” (19). How relevant are the actions and decisions of these fictional women to the lives of the women in Nafisis private class?

6. Explain what Nafisi means when she calls herself and her beliefs increasingly “irrelevant” in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Compare her way of dealing with her irrelevance to her magicians self-imposed exile. What do people who “lose their place in the world” do to survive, both physically and creatively?

7. During the Gatsby trial Zarrin charges Mr. Nyazi with the inability to “distinguish fiction from reality” (128). How does Mr. Nyazis conflation of the fictional and the real relate to theme of the blind censor? Describe similar instances within a democracy like the United States when art was censored for its “dangerous” impact upon society.

8. Nafisi writes: “It was not until I had reached home that I realized the true meaning of exile” (145). How do her conceptions of home conflict with those of her husband, Bijan, who is reluctant to leave Tehran? Also, compare Mahshids feeling that she “owes” something to Tehran and belongs there to Mitra and Nassrins desires for freedom and escape. Discuss how the changing and often discordant influences of memory, family, safety, freedom, opportunity and duty define our sense of home and belonging.

9. Fanatics like Mr. Ghomi, Mr. Nyazi and Mr. Bahri consistently surprised Azar by displaying absolute hatred for Western literature — a reaction she describes as a “venom uncalled for in relation to works of fiction.” (195) What are their motivations? Do you, like Nafisi, think that people like Mr. Ghomi attack because they are afraid of what they dont understand? Why is ambiguity such a dangerous weapon to them?

10. The confiscation of ones life by another is the root of Humberts sin against Lolita. How did Khomeini become Irans solipsizer? Discuss how Sanaz, Nassrin, Azin and the rest of the girls are part of a “generation with no past.” (76)

11. Nafisi teaches that the novel is a sensual experience of another world which appeals to the readers capacity for compassion. Do you agree that “empathy is at the heart of the novel”? How has this book affected your understanding of the impact of the novel?

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781588360793
Subtitle:
A Memoir in Books
Publisher:
Random House
Author:
Nafisi, Azar
Author:
Nafísi, Azar
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography-Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography-Women
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : Women
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : General
Subject:
Social Science : Women's Studies - General
Subject:
Women
Subject:
English teachers
Subject:
English literature
Subject:
American literature
Subject:
Group reading
Subject:
Regional, Ethnic, Genre, Specific Subject
Subject:
General
Subject:
Audio Books-Biography
Subject:
Audio Books-Nonfiction
Subject:
Biography-Ethnic Cultures
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Biography-Women
Subject:
Feminist Studies-World Feminism
Subject:
Gender Studies-Womens Studies
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Middle East-Women and Gender
Subject:
Sale Books-Staff Picks
Subject:
World History-Middle East
Subject:
Middle East-General History
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Edition Description:
Rh Trade Pbk
Publication Date:
2004
Binding:
ELECTRONIC
Language:
English
Pages:
356

Related Subjects

Biography » Educators
Biography » General
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 356 pages Random House Publishing Group - English 9781588360793 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "There are certain books by our most talented essayists — I'm thinking in particular of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion, and Dakota, by Kathleen Norris — that, though not necessarily better than their other works, carry inside their covers the heat and struggle of a life's central choice being made and the price being paid, while the writer tells us about other matters, and leaves behind a path of sadness and sparkling loss. Reading Lolita in Tehran is such a book." (read the entire Atlantic review)
"Review" by , "[W]ithout once sinking into sentimentality or making overly large claims for the relative might of the pen over the sword, Nafisi celebrates the power of literature to nourish free thought in climes inhospitable to it."
"Review" by , "I was enthralled and moved by Azar Nafisi?s account of how she defied, and helped others to defy, radical Islam?s war against women. Her memoir contains important and properly complex reflections about the ravages of theocracy, about thoughtfulness, and about the ordeals of freedom — as well as a stirring account of the pleasures and deepening of consciousness that result from an encounter with great literature and with an inspired teacher."
"Review" by , "When I first saw Azar Nafisi teach, she was standing in a university classroom in Tehran, holding a bunch of red fake poppies in one hand and a bouquet of daffodils in the other, and asking, What is kitsch? Now, mesmerizingly, she reveals the shimmering worlds she created in those classrooms, inside a revolution that was an apogee of kitsch and cruelty. Here, people think for themselves because James and Fitzgerald and Nabokov sing out against authoritarianism and repression. You will be taken inside a culture, and on a journey, that you will never forget."
"Review" by , "Stunning...a literary life raft on Iran's fundamentalist sea...All readers should read it."
"Review" by , “Anyone who has ever belonged to a book group must read this book. Azar Nafisi takes us into the vivid lives of eight women who must meet in secret to explore the forbidden fiction of the west. It is at once a celebration of the power of the novel and a cry of outrage at the reality in which these women are trapped. The ayatollahs don't know it, but Nafisi is one of the heroes of the Islamic Republic. For many years, she eschewed the easier path of exile, and became one of the brave band of intellectuals and artists who stayed on, stubbornly struggling to save the cultured soul of her remarkable country.”
"Synopsis" by , Reading Lolita in Tehran is the astonishing true story of young women who met in secret each week to read and talk about forbidden Western classics — and their lives and loves — in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
"Synopsis" by , Includes a reader's guide and list of suggested reading.
"Synopsis" by , Chapter 1

In the fall of 1995, after resigning from my last academic post, I decided to indulge myself and fulfill a dream. I chose seven of my best and most committed students and invited them to come to my home every Thursday morning to discuss literature. They were all women-to teach a mixed class in the privacy of my home was too risky, even if we were discussing harmless works of fiction. One persistent male student, although barred from our class, insisted on his rights. So he, Nima, read the assigned material, and on special days he would come to my house to talk about the books we were reading.

I often teasingly reminded my students of Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and asked, Which one of you will finally betray me? For I am a pessimist by nature and I was sure at least one would turn against me. Nassrin once responded mischievously, You yourself told us that in the final analysis we are our own betrayers, playing Judas to our own Christ. Man

spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.