[lit-ideas] Reading Lolita in Tehran

  • From: "Veronica Caley" <vcaley@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 22:29:17 -0400

Ceri's comments re being able to see these young women as they really are in 
Nafisi's  living room hit a note of accuracy with me as well.  It made me so 
sorry that they have to live in these clothes that make them all look alike.  I 
don't object to this if they want to do it, but it seemed to me that some of 
them didn't but were forced to.  Which was also Nafisi's point.
I had a feeling of suffocation as  the book proceeds from Ms. Nafisi and the 
girls starting out at the University of Tehran which I assume is a relatively 
large place.  Then from there, they go to the girls college as they are forced 
out of the university.  Finally they are confined to this one room in Ms. 
Nafisi's home.  The constriction of  their world is disturbing to read about, 
catastrophic to experience.  Finally, she is at home most of the time, except 
for an occasional lunch with another female teacher and the rare visit with her 
friend, the one who has withdrawn from it all.

The recurring theme of looking out at the mountain she loves I think expresses 
her longing for air, freedom and the wish to be able to resume her former 
creative life.  I found it very disturbing when she meets some of these girls 
later and she learns of their imprisonment, test for virginity, etc. etc.

I also found it insulting that she and other women entering the school grounds 
had to go through their own gate.  It reminded me of the treatment of the 
untouchables in India, though far less extreme.  

Then there were these guardians running around checking on everyone's behavior. 
 I think these guys had gotten so far out of control that the Iranian 
government executed five of them lately.  I was wondering what Ms. Nafisi 
thought about when she read that.

I was also struck by the irony that while her career had virtually ended, her 
husband's was blossoming.  Being an architect, he was in high demand to rebuild 
the city after the destruction of many buildings in the city due to the 
Iraq/Iran war.

Actually, I am more interested in the life of the author and her students than 
in the literature she is teaching.  


Veronica Caley

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