Reading Lolita in Tehran

“There is nothing more reprehensible than remaining blind to the problems and pains of others.”

Memoirs belonging to the category of texts that must be read compulsorily. Up to the age of twenty it should be read in order to grow intellectually, after to be able to appreciate the hidden nuances and inconsistencies of the human being.

A title that came into our hands almost by accident, during one of our reading groups, which turned out to be a jewel of world literature. A living fire capable of igniting curiosity about the world and, indirectly, about a long list of books mentioned therein to go read (or re-read).

The narrated memoirs are those of the Iranian professor of foreign literature, Azar Nafasi, whose life was turned upside down by the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers, who transformed the country into a theocracy.

The text is divided into four sections “Lolita”, “Gatsby”, “James” and “Austen”. Books and authors starting points (or arrival?) of an everyday life that the revolutionaries tried to erase, to then remodel it according to them image.

A hymn of continuous love for literature, that of Azar Nafasi, which has no flags. The beauty of the unarmed army of words marching to conquer minds and hearts.

Our favorite story is perhaps the one that by extension will give the title to the whole book. Lolita represents the female world that suffers the violence of the revolution, finding herself overnight stripped of her rights and raped in her dignity. Obligations difficult to share and even to understand (and we are sorry if we are giving an opinion by writing this).

Defining the book “beautiful” would be an understatement. We have fallen in love with it with every single cell, and we have included it in the list of books that we give away in the event of anniversaries of any kind, certain that it will please those who receive it. A window in time and space to understand the historical/social/religious forces that guide interpersonal relationships. In Iran as in Europe, in the contemporary era as in the Middle Ages.


Azar Nafisi, Leggere Lolita a Teheran, Adelphi, Milano, 2004

Original edition: Reading Lolita in Tehran, Random House, New York, 2003

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