Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran Summary

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books is the memoir of Iranian author and professor Azar Nafisi. The novel jumps around in time, spanning Nafisi's life as a professor at University of Tehran and at Allameh Tabataba'i University throughout the 1970s and 1980s to her resignation in 1995 and subsequent teaching of a secret class on Western Literature, touching at times on her life in the United States after leaving the country in 1997. The memoir is split into four sections - Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen - and in each section Nafisi recalls discussions she and her students had about the works of literature, linking their themes to memories of life in Iran before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution. In Part I, "Lolita," Nafisi introduces her private students and largely focuses on their discussions of the restrictions put on the lives of women, especially at schools and universities. In Part II, "Gatsby," Nafisi remembers her days teaching at University of Tehran, including the classroom exercise of putting The Great Gatsby on trial. In Part III, "James, "Nafisi focuses on her time during the Iraq-Iran War and teaching at Allameh Tabatabai University. Finally, in Part IV, "Austen," Nafisi returns to memories from the early 1990s: her private class, her "magician," and her decision to leave Iran for America.