Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Unconventional Autobiographies: Arabesques and Persepolis

In the novels <i>Arabesques</i> by Anton Shammas and <i>Persepolis</i> by Marjane Satrapi, autobiographical narrative is created through the use of unconventional styles of writing. Shammas’s use of the novel as the platform in which his autobiography is told goes against all preconceptions of how an autobiography is normally written. As Rachel Brenner points out, Shammas’s “arabesque-like quest for his double, epitomized in the metaphor of multiple self-reflections, comments ironically on the human tendency to shape one’s worldview according to territorial, theological, and linguistic boundaries and zones” (Brenner 443). An interesting result of the use of this format is that several parallels develop within the plot, muddling the distinction between truth and farce for the reader. Conversely, Satrapi reveals her childhood in graphic novel form, a revolutionary means of autobiographical narration -- especially in the Middle East, where it had never been used before as such, and especially not by a woman. In this format, illustrations function alongside the text to convey the impact of the situation. Nima Naghibi and Andrew O’Malley affirm that “<i>Persepolis</i> manages to challenge the...

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