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Reading Lolita in Tehran

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3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  95,241 Ratings  ·  6,289 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2003)
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blereader I'd say this is ideal for students who have read at least some of the various works (Lolita, The Great Gatsby, etc.) and who don't mind reading a 400+…moreI'd say this is ideal for students who have read at least some of the various works (Lolita, The Great Gatsby, etc.) and who don't mind reading a 400+ page book. Many of the complaints about Reading Lolita in Tehran are about how "boring" the literary analyses are, so students who enjoy analyzing classics and who can reflect from memory about their experiences with Lolita etc. would probably enjoy Nafisi's memoir better. I myself didn't read many of these Western works until my college years, so I suppose I'm biased towards thinking that this book is best for university students. Also, much of the accounts take place at a university, so it might ring well with those who are going through or who have gone through a university education.

For younger students, you might consider Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. It's more or less the same place and time period. Satrapi's work is just as serious as Nafisi's, but it might keep the interest of young students better, as it's less "pontificating," it's in graphic novel form, and it follows the life of a young girl growing up.(less)
Leah I didn't know much of anything and still understood it quite well. If anything, it will inspire you to learn more

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Siria
Dec 15, 2013 Siria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Emma
Dec 17, 2009 Emma added it
Recommends it for: Sheep
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 ...more
Annalisa
Jan 02, 2014 Annalisa rated it liked it
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). If I would have known Nafisi was going to delve into these literary pieces like she would one of ...more
Oriana
Jan 08, 2014 Oriana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2007, phenomenal
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 teh 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 ...more
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
...more
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
...more
Laurae1212
Apr 23, 2008 Laurae1212 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Kareena
Jan 07, 2014 Kareena rated it it was ok
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
...more
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
...more
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 وممتن لمن قام بقرصنته، 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 ديكتات
...more
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 ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Sep 25, 2014 Lorenzo Berardi rated it really liked it
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
...more
رنا
Dec 15, 2012 رنا rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: بحبهم
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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 02, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Carol
Mar 10, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lena
Nov 11, 2008 Lena rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
...more
Mohamed Al Marzooqi
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
...more
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
...more
Naila
Feb 06, 2014 Naila rated it it was ok
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
...more
Book Riot Community
I bought this book years ago and let it sit on my shelf collecting dust until recently. I am so glad I finally picked it up! Aside from the one-sided reports I’ve seen on the news, I’ve always been ignorant of all things Iran. This book educated me on the history of the country and opened my eyes to the beauty and fortitude of the people (specifically the women) who call it home. Nafisi writes about her life before, during, and after her time in Iran through the lense of the Western classics she ...more
Zanna
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. Whate ...more
Iqbal Al-Zirqi
Aug 06, 2012 Iqbal Al-Zirqi rated it really liked it
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 ...more
J
Jul 17, 2008 J rated it really liked it
From its provoking, intriguing title to its very last page, Azar Nafisi's book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, partly a narrative biography, partly a history of a nation and its people, and partly critical analysis of great American and British authors, is astonishing, enlightening, and important. Much like Marjane Satrapi's amazing graphic novels, Nafisi pulls back the headscarves, the long black robes dictated by the Guardian Council, to show us the modern women of Iran and how they fight to ...more
Heather
Jul 25, 2007 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really would have liked to have seen a lot less "Reading Lolita" and a lot more "in Tehran." I've tried to read this book at least three times over the past three years and each time couldn't muster the energy to plow through it. I think the only reason I made it through this time was because of my long commute and the threat of being due back at the library soon.

As I said above, the parts of the book that dealt with the socio-political landscape of the Islamic Republic of Iran - how it chang
...more
Diane
I read this for my live bookclub...and if it weren't for that I would not have gotten through it. It was not an easy read by any stretch of the means; I did not truly connect with any of the players. But all of that aside, I am very glad I read this book as it gave me insight into a period of history that I knew fairly little about (I was too engrossed in my own high school and teen life) I'm embarrassed to say. And it also has given me a much clearer understanding of present day relations.

Whil
...more
Nicola
May 29, 2007 Nicola rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This memoir about the power of books in a time of crisis and oppression definitely falls short of the transitive powers the novels it details possess. Though the overall message of the book is a powerful one, its disjointed narrative structure, organized by theme rather than true chronological order, left me more confused than inspired and did not help in my understanding of the bigger picture.

For someone fairly out of the loop as far as politics and world issues go, especially issues that start
...more
Cheryl
*4.5*

You will either hate or love Nabokov, Austen, and James after reading this book. Or curiosity will make you revisit their work, like it made me. At a time when I have Austen's novels lined up to read, this book was handy.

Nafisi is an academic--"too much of an academic" she says, one who believes that you don't just read about people like you, instead you read to learn about people unlike you (can we have more professors of literature like her?). It shows in this beautiful memoir on literatu
...more
Khalid
Dec 16, 2009 Khalid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
Reading Lolita in Tehran is an autobiography of the life of its author, [Azar Nafisi]; by describing her life, the author gave a very interesting depiction of the life in Iran after the revolution. As an expert and a teacher in literature, she colored the autobiography with a touch of literature; novels, as one probably would guess, had a major role in this book. Some of them gave her an explanation of certain situations, others suggested solutions, and she was always on the watch for these hint ...more
Alyazi
مازلت أتسائل عن قوة النهايات ، نهايات الكتب ، نهايات الأفلام ، نهايات الأشياء ، نهايات البشر ، تداعيتاها والقُدرة على جعلك حزيناً جداً وسعيداً جداً في آن معاً لكنني أؤمن بأن نهايات الكتب - خاصة - هي كتب بحدِ ذاتها ، لمَ تحمله من مشاعر وعواطف مكثفة و بالغة التأثير على القارئ تساوي في ذلك الجزء الكبير من الكتاب .

حين شرعت في قراءة ( أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران ) مع كل صفحة من صفحات الكتاب كنت أشعر بأنني أكثر إنغلاقاً على ذاتي و توحداً لفترة من الوقت ، كما لو أن آذر تبعث ب"جنياتها" إلى داخلي ، ليبقوني ح
...more
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Azar Nafisi, Ph.D. (Persian: آذر نفیسی) (born December 1955) is an Iranian professor and writer who currently resides in the United States.

Nafisi's bestselling book Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books has gained a great deal of public attention and been translated into 32 languages.

More about Azar Nafisi...

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“You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.” 865 likes
“Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” 236 likes
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