[lit-ideas] Re: Reading Lolita in Tehran

  • From: Scribe1865@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 00:35:20 EDT

Nafisi's book seems to pivot on contrasts between imagination and concrete 
situation, between bookish sympathy and social cruelty, between universals of 
art and specifics of people and place. Though Iran is not Lolita and the 
Ayatollah not Humbert, one can find densely contrasting paragraphs like this 
one on 
page 148 of the paperback:

     "I found myself walking with a group of chanting students who had 
appeared magically. Suddenly, we heard the sound of bullets, which seemed to be 
coming out of nowhere. The bullets were real. One moment we were standing in 
of the wide iron gate of the university and then I found myself running 
toward the bookstores, most of which had closed because of the unrest. I took 
under the awning of one that was still open. Nearby, a music vendor had left 
his tape deck running; some singer's mournful voice lamenting his love's 

Another contrast along these lines is between the writings of Mike Gold and 
F. Scott Fitzgerald, between the ideological and the aesthetic. Nafisi gives 
the ideologue little space except as a corruption of the aesthetic. And when 
writ large in politics, the ideologue's corruption is writ large, as on page 

"The Islamic Revolution, as it turned out, did more damage to Islam by using 
it as an instrument of oppression than any alien ever could have done."

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