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Tehran and Opression

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Beginning in the early 1900’s, politically tension throughout the world began to increase. Most notably during this time, political tension began to dangerously rise in Iran. As a result of the struggle of political power in Iran, the social, economic, and political lives of many people were transformed considerably. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, is a book which Nafisi gives memoirs of her life in Iran, and also adds criticism on literature, and social accounts of the time. Nafisi begins the book Reading Lolita in Tehran, on a personal front, describing to the reader her resignation from her job at The University of Allahmeh Tabatabai. Nafisi states she quit her job partly in order to pursue her desire of an independent career and dream of teaching literature to a group of students that truly appreciated literature. Initially, Nafisi invites seven young women to join her weekly study group at her house, and at first, most of the girls were intimidated and quiet. It was through the novels and discussions that the girls started to enlighten their minds and soon, the secret ......

In Nafisi's work, she is quick to add details of food and clothing, and at certain times, details of houses and interiors. This quirk of writing, in a memoir filled with incomplete narratives of her own and other people's lives, serves, it is assumed, to bring the reader closer to the subject discussed, and to understand them better. For example, we are told many times the author's liking for coffee ice cream, with coffee poured on top of it, with walnuts (Nafisi 314). She even says this is her only way of dealing with problems. Add to this the detailed descriptions of her students' clothing when they first come to her house, and the care with which she dressed herself for that first day of class (12-18). With these details she attempts to humanize the girls, and make them real and recognizable to the reader, and not make them simply "Iranian female students".

Interestingly enough, however, Nafisi gives us very incomplete information on each young woman, and it is quite difficult to tell them apart. Because none of their stories are told from the beginning (and perhaps this reader's inexcusable unfamiliarity with Persian names), it is easy to get their details mixed up. Was this intentional? Did Nafisi mean to strip them of their identity and "replace them with a cipher of [our] own imagination"



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