Reading Lolita in Tehran- Azar Nafisi takes you through a journey of books with the history of Iran carefully folded into it.
The Colors under the Veil
I liked this paragraph for even the taste in colours was affected by the Islamic Republic where Manna wanted to wear more outrageous colours like shocking pink or tomato red. It is here that her professor takes her through a story of how when she was young she was obsessed with colours. She asked her father about the colour of paradise and found it in a small oil painting with two birds, two deep red apples, a golden pear and a touch of blue. She discovered that her paradise was swimming pool blue.
Upsilamba what does it mean to you?
When one day tea was brought in for the students Yassi throws a word at her Upsilamba. I liked how the Professor decided to play a game to invent new meanings of the word of their own. To some it was the name of a dance, the image of small silver fish leaping in and out of a moonlit lake, a melody, girls jumping rope.
The Professor through her creativity created a repository of coded words and expressions, a secret language of their own.
The author describes how censorship was shaped by the colourless lenses of the blind censor. Even fiction went through rearranging and reshaping reality in Iran. National television condemned the showing of Billy Budd because it claimed the story promoted homosexuality. The cartoon version of Around the World in Eighty Days came under the scanner because the main character a lion was British and the film ended in London.
Why do we find joy in reading about evil characters in novels?
The discussion that led to the analysis of why we find so much joy in Lolita or Madame Bovary. Was there someone thing wrong with these novels or us. I liked here the comparison of every great novel like a fairytale and that just like fairytales have witches and wicked stepmothers, it is really the magic and the power of good that come through in fiction too.
Books are Refuge
During an explosion Azar Nafisi took refuge with a book and the way her mind traveled with the book despite the tense situation reveals the power of reading. She even drew courage from the line you needn’t be afraid.
This passage is wonderful how Professors can show different angles and points of view. She places a chair around the room in different positions and says now what do you see. It is a chair. But when you come to describe it you can see there are different perspectives. The same way you can not pass absolute judgement on any individual. As a teacher this passage inspires me where creativity is all there is needed to teach your students a concept.
In the heart of the passage I found Azar Nafisi a passionate Professor connecting great works of fiction to the Islamic Republic of Iran and taking her students on an enlightened and well informed journey. Yes! I haven’t read Lolita yet so to understand Reading Lolita in Tehran- Azar Nafisi better I must pick up a copy of Lolita that sparked so many discussions in the reading club at the Professor’s house. This year I have been reading books that lead from one book for me to discover another. Reading keeps us alive!