October meeting

October’s meeting: Wednesday, October 30th (Hallowe’en!)

Next reading material: Nafisi’s “Lolita in Tehran”, sections 1-5 inclusive. (See the September post for links to the English book, the Japanese translation, and the Kindle versions). At the next meeting, I will ask everyone if they want to continue reading this book, or change to another one.

In September’s meeting, we finished reading Kipling’s Jungle Book story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”. Many thanks to all who attended.

For our next book, I have chosen a longer and much more challenging book, “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi. Nafisi taught English literature in Iran during the days of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s rule. She is very well read and makes many references to various authors and works of literature. I have not read many of the books she refers to (including “Lolita”), and I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to have read the books she refers to – although obviously it will add to one’s enjoyment of the book.

While reading her book, I did find myself using Wikipedia a lot! For example, early in the story, when one of Nafisi’s students comes to her house wearing clothes decorated with a large butterfly, Nafisi says, “Did you wear that in honour of Nabokov?” I did not understand the connection, but Wikipedia told me that, as well as being a writer, “He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer.”

Some of you have already started reading the book, but whether you have or whether you have not, please take a few moments to write down your thoughts and impressions about the following topics. I am interested to know your knowledge and impressions BEFORE you read the story.

  1. What do you know of Iran, and what are your impressions of that country?
  2. What do you know of Iran in the time when this story takes place (1975-1997)?
  3. What do you know about the novel “Lolita”, and what are your impressions? Have you read it?
  4. What do you know about the author of “Lolita”?
  5. What do you know about Gatsby, James and Austen?

I like to know what people look like, what they sound like, and if you are interested, you can use the wonderful tool called the Internet and find audios and videos of Azir Nafisi and see what she looks and sounds like. You can also find videos of and about the author of “Lolita”, as well as clips from the movie “Lolita”. You can also find, of course, articles about “Lolita” (the book and the movie), and you will find criticism and controversy as well as praise.

Let me just give you one: the beginning of a short TV movie, a dramatization of “Nabokov’s lectures on Franz Kafka‘s The Metamorphosis. The part of Nabokov is played by Christopher Plummer.”

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boSFjzWJXcU’]

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