April 09, 2010
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books is a memoir by Johns Hopkins literature professor Azar Nafisi, who returned to her native Iran after a long education abroad and remained there for 18 years before leaving 1997 for the United States. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret. They began to use the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule but always returning to the books as the primary focus. Woven through her story are the books she has taught along the way, among them works by Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James, and Austen.