Reading Lolita in Tehran-Azar Nafisi
Out of all the books I have read this year until now,this one holds and will always hold a special place in my heart.There could be a million reasons for it and if we,you and me,sat physically talking about this book opposite each other,you would find me speaking non-stop;presenting you with the affect,the intensity and the beauty that this book holds in itself.
We enter the life of the author with a scene where she is preparing for her Thursday class,at her home.Here,she and her female students read the rich and banned literature.These Thursday mornings are filled with discussions over books like-Lolita and The Great Gatsby and authors like Henry James,Fitzgerald,Nakobov and Austen. Azar Nafisi pens down her life and let’s us view it through the literary lens.
Tehran has been shown under tumultuous times of Iraqi war attacks,revolution and student rebellion for the favour of Islamic rule under Ayatollah Khomeini,putting into action rules majorly for women,like the mandatory wearing of the veil,no make up,a scrutinising check up of a female body even while entering the university.Our author who teaches at the university isn’t able to come to terms with such forced behaviour. What we read are her stances,her struggle with her thoughts and her finding comfort in the literature she taught-listening to her students present their viewpoint on the aforementioned authors and their works.While some POV’s which come from male students make you aggressive and seem baseless it is the women voices in the book which are strong and for a split second you feel proud reading their arguments.And these only made me wonder-does putting them under a veil and imposing an oppressive society shun them of their voice,of their intelligent thoughts and of their choices?It shouldn't. But they apparently do.Here are women who break the chain of repression and choose a life which they “want” and dream for themselves.“Happily ever after”an ending we often hear of,couldn’t have been portrayed better,than in this book.It made my heart swell to see these free spirits-be it the choice made over faith or their will.
The bookish references, debates, defences and acceptances have been so well explained that for someone like me who hasn’t read Lolita it was enough to know how gruelling and deeply affecting the book is.With piercing and beautiful prose it just connects you with the characters, the situations and the ambiguities faced by Nafisi.
I might have made a shoddy attempt at its review but let it not stop you from reading it. I never seem to carve out perfect words for the things which impact me immensely.
A life memoir over books I absolutely recommend!