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Reading Lolita in Tehran ~A Memoir in Books

Reading Lolita in Tehran ~A Memoir in Books

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Reading Lolita in Tehran ~A Memoir in Books

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  1. Reading Lolita in Tehran~A Memoir in Books Cathy, Carlos, Hegel, Jay, Jenny, Silvia

  2. Background Information

  3. General Introduction 1. The Book is the memoir of author. 2. Intellectual and influential family 3. Was sent to England & Switzerland & U.S. and received a PHD in English &American literature 4. Teaching in Tehran University 5. Emigrate to U.S. in 1997

  4. Divided into four parts 1. Lolita – 2. Gatsby- 3. James- 4. Austen-

  5. Historical Background A. Shah regime and Pahlavi’s Westernized policy B. People’s dissatisfaction C. Fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini’s attempt to overthrow Shah Regime D. 1979 Shah regime overthrown, Islamic Republic take office

  6. Nafisi’s Experience A. Back to Tehran from the States in 1978 B. Taught Literature in Tehran University in 1979, when Islamic Revolution broke out C. Islamic Republic implemented strict rule on people D. Life wasn’t better than before

  7. The Great Gatsby: Introduction • Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald • Publish Time: April 10, 1925 • Reflect Fitzgerald’s perceptions of the era which he lives in through the eyes of Nick in The Great Gatsby - a seductive, exciting lifestyle in a unrestrained materialist America • On of the greatest literary documents of 1920s which he dubbed “the Jazz Age”

  8. The Great Gatsby: Main Characters & Summary • Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby: Nick moves to New York and builds a close relationship between Gatsby • Gatsby and Daisy: Gatsby knew Daisy in the past and still in love with her although she’s already married to Tom • Tom, Jasty and Daisy: Discovering the romantic relationship between Daisy and Gatsby, Tom claims Gatsby a criminal. • Myrtle and Geroge: On their way home, the car accidently hits and kills Myrtle. Though knowing that it’s Daisy who drives the car, Tom tells Geroge that Gatsby is the killer. Angrily Geroge goes to Gatsby’s house and shoots him dead at the pool.

  9. The Great Gatsby • Main Theme: The American Dream and its Disillusion. • Jay Gatsby: poor young man  wealthy charlatan • Death of Gatsby • Reason for being the title of the 2nd section: • Dreams • Obsession with the past • Indifference

  10. The American Dream • Basis: “All men are created equal” – “Declaration of Independence” • 1st appeared in James Truslow Adams’ “The Epic of America” • “The American Dream” is the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. • Criticism: • It has become the pursuit of materialism. • Unattainable for the working class.

  11. Dreams • Jay Gatsby  Daisy Buchanan • Iranians  Revolution • Ideals vs. Reality • “Dreams, Mr. Nyazi, are perfect ideals, complete in themselves. How can you impose them on a constantly changing , imperfect, incomplete reality?” (144) • Gatsby: Death of Gatsby and Betrayal of Daisy • Iran: Execution, Prohibition, reimposition of the veil

  12. Obsession with the Past • Gatsby: Daisy “He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something……His life as been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it slowly, he could find out what that thing was…” (142) • Iran: the Islamic Regime “We in ancient countries have our past – we obsess over our the past.” (109)

  13. Carelessness (Indifference) • Betrayal of Daisy, absence at Gatsby’s funeral “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – that smashed up things and creatures then retreat back into their money or their vast carelessness” (131) • Ignorance of human rights “After a while even the revolution found its rhythm: the violence, the execution, public confessions to crimes that had never been committed, judges who coolly talked about amputating a thief’s hand or legs and killing political prisoners because there was not enough room for them now in jail.” (100)

  14. Nafisi and her teaching career

  15. Intro. • started her teaching career in the English Department at the University of Tehran • taught the comparative study of the literature of the twenties & thirties, the proletarians and the non-proletarians

  16. Teaching Materials • Writers: • revolutionary writers • Fitzgerald: ”the best person of the twenties” • Mark Twain: “the father of American literature” • Mike Gold: “dean of U.S. Proletarian Literature ” • Maxim Gorky: founder of the socialist realism literary method / a political activist • Hemingway: “classic of American literature” subversive

  17. Works: • Gatsby(Fitzgerald, 1925) • A Farewell of Arms(Hemingway, 1929) 3.TheAdventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain, 1884)

  18. Opinion toward Literature • Theodor Adorno:“The highest form of morality is not to feel at home at one’s own home.” (p.94, line12) the most great works of imagination makes people feel like a stranger in your own home people feel unsettled, uneasy questions the traditions & expectation which we took for granted consider the world with different views

  19. “Don’t go chasing after the grand theme, the ideas behind the story must come to you through the experience of the novel and not as something tacked on to it. ” (p.109)

  20. “A novel is not an allegory.” • “If you don’t enter the world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won’t be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. ” (p.111)

  21. Nafisi and her students

  22. Intro. • At that time, students were differentiated by their political affiliations. the Muslims the leftists’ women the monarchists (non-political students)

  23. “Arguing with my leftist students, I had a funny feeling that I was talking to a younger version of myself, and the gleam I saw in that familiar strangers’ face frightened me.” (p.113)

  24. Students A. Mr. Bahri: Muslim/ the mixture of arrogance & shyness/ later became the head of the Muslim Students Association B. Mr. Nyazi: didn’t want to miss anything in class, thought there was no difference between the fiction and the facts of his life C. Mahtab: one of the most radical students (“Mathab’s face slowly faded and is transformed into the image of another girl, also young, in Norman, Oklahoma.” p.113) D. Zarrin & Vida: very different from all the students, didn’t belong to any group

  25. discussing Gatsby & Fitzgerald with Zarrin & Vida: like children sharing coveted stolen cherries never became more intimate (p.96) • having heated conversation with Mr. Bahri: Nafisi wanted to shake his hands for goodwill & friendship Mr. Bahri withdrew both of his hands back because of the “Muslim rules” *”no Muslim man would or should touch a namahram woman– a woman other than his wife, mother, or sister” (p.98)

  26. Nafisi V.S Mr. Bahri • Mr. Bahri as a revolutionary: • asking Nafisi to have more revolutionary materials and writers (p.98) • tried to persuade Nafisi in a patient, dogged way • baffled Hemingway, felt ambivalent about Fitzgerald, but love Mark Twain “I loved and admired Twain but thought all writers were national writers and that there was no such things as National Writers.” by Nafisi (p. 104)

  27. Bahri tried to explain to Nafisi about the political Islam →Nafisi rebuffed him and questioned him about his loyalties(p.103) • Bahri thought it made sense for three faculty members to be expelled →Nafisi questioned him of the reason why students were demanding new death sentences everyday →Bahri: “They were on trial for their past deeds. This was no game, it was revolution.”(p.119)

  28. Nafisi: “Be careful with your dreams; one day they may just come true. (…) I could have told you to learn from Gatsby, from the lonely, isolated Gatsby. (…) You seem to be in need of knowing, Gatsby is killed.” (p.115) • Nafisi: “I would like to know where Mr. Bahri is right now... and ask him: how did it all turn out?…Is this you dream of revolution?..... What shall we do with these corpses on our hands?” (p.153)

  29. The Trial

  30. Cause: Mr. Nyazi came to inform Nafisi he against The Great Gatsby 1. Immoral & poisonous 2. Public prosecution in these days B.Posts of the trial: No one volunteered to any of the posts 1. Prosecutor – Mr. Nyazi 2. The judge – Mr. Farzan 3. Defense – Zarrin 4. The book – Nafisi 5. Jury – the rest of the classmates

  31. 1. Prosecutor’s points: “ As a Muslim, I cannot accept Gatsby.” a. A rape of Iranian culture b. Violation of morality c. No virtuous woman in the whole novel d. Corruption of American society (adultery, cheating, lies, dishonesty)

  32. 2. Judge’s points: • Fitzgerald wrote for money & approves of the rich • Reject Western materialisms 3. Defense’s points: a. Fiction vs. reality (moral or immoral) b. Characters are judged in terms of honesty (by the judge – Nick) c. Carelessness (the rich in the novel) – A reminder of other careless people

  33. 4. The book: a. Imagination = empathy b. Learn about how complicated those issues are 5. Jury’s points: • Leftist activists: Know immorality of American culture & understand the enemy (similar with Nyazi’s condemnation) • Radical students: It distracted them from their duties as revolutionaries • Many were silent: Lack of self-confidence to voice their points; Could not say why they like the book

  34. C. Students’ reaction: • Still arguing even after the trial • Waylaid Nafisi to talk about Gatsby, and present their views • Handed in papers on the subject voluntarily >> Students got in on the discussion