Reading "Lolita" in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
8 journalers for this copy...
I struggled with this and in the end didnt finish it in time for my reading group meeting.
I just found the author's tone and attitude so annoying that it rather overshadowed the, more interesting, story about the women and their lives. Ill try to have another go if and when it comes home
Reading list for the UK
note this is a leisurely ring so if you need extra time no hassle just send me a note
Ziggythecat here in Aug 05
Daemonwolf here December 2005
I started reading this and liked it so much that I'm going to go out and get a copy so that I can read it without stressing about the big pile of books infront of me.
Sorry, and thanks...
Thanks for sharing!
Literature is discussed passionately, and for the first time I've been tempted (but still not persuaded) to read Nabokov's "Lolita". I really enjoyed Nafisi's exploration of what makes us engage with good literature.
"A novel is not an allegory... It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathise, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing."
"Reading Lolita in Tehran" is spoiled only by the authors sometimes patronising tone, but ignore that and persevere! You won't be sorry.
Released 16 yrs ago (7/12/2005 UTC) at
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Posted this to caro1 this afternoon.
The book is structured in a very peculiar, and to my mind, confusing way. Rather than presenting her story either chronologically or thematically, she divides her work into four sections named for the authors Austen, Henry James and the novels Lolita and The Great Gatsby. This wouldn't have been so bad if she had focused on these authors/novels or the way she taught classes on their work. But Nafisi jumps around within the sections in a rambling almost stream-of-consciousness manner.
Many of the students mentioned blend into obscurity, although this might have been the result of Nafisi obscuring the identities of the students she writes about. Interestingly the ones who stand out are mostly male.
I did enjoy the section on James, but that may have been because I have recently returned to his work as a result of reading Colm Toibin's The Master. There were lots of little gems throughout this book, but you had to search hard to uncover them.
I have finally come to the conclusion, that the novel was a brilliant idea, and in the hands of a less patronising and smug author, might have lived up to its promise. I'm pleased I had the opportunity to read this, despite the drawbacks. Thanks for sharing Jenatleisure.
In its favour though it finally put paid, imho, to those who say that the majority of women in muslim countries like the anonymity/security/repect to be gained from wearing the veil. There were many different feelings amongst the women in the book, but even the strongly religious women resented being forced to wear it, rather than it being their choice to express their religion that way.
I admit also that I stopped reading after about 30 pages & borrowed a copy of 'Lolita' from the library. I'd never read anything by Nabakov (and now want to read more!)& how could I read a book with this title without having read its namesake? I've also resolved, once I've caught up with the pile of bookring books that have built up , to read some Henry James, another unexplored writer for me
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Posting on Saturday to akg. :)
writing. The book for some reason is split into four sections; Lolita, Gatsby, James and Austen, but the section titles are only vaguely connected to the content. The first section, Lolita describes the reading group Nafisi established after she stopped teaching at university and I found it very difficult to read, in fact so difficult I almost gave up on the book. However the next three sections are easier because they are mostly chronological from the start of the revolution. It is these sections that I found the most interesting because it describes how the lives of people, especially women, changed from the revolution to the current times.
To be honest I think I would have preferred this book if it hadn’t included the reference to literature, which at times felt forced and at times like an English literature lecture. However, it has opened my eyes to the possibility of reading Nabokov, maybe not Lolita (although I am now less prejudiced against that book than previously) but particularly ‘An invitation to a beheading’ which sounds like an intriguing book.
Picture of Nafisi teaching at the University of Tehran
I thought I would also add that I an email over Easter from someone saying they had read my review of this book on Amazon (same text as here) and bought the book book of it. I found this interesting because I didn't rate it that highly!
What are the plans for this book now? Jen, do you want it back? I'd like to hang on to it in the hope that at some point I'll be in the right frame of mind to stick with it, but equally I'm happy to send it back/on!!
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To be released somewhere in the park during this afternoon's BCUK barbecue