The Pangs of Exile: Memoir Out of Iran

Gillian Whitlock

in Soft Weapons

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780226895253
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226895277 | DOI:
The Pangs of Exile: Memoir Out of Iran

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This chapter addresses a memoir of power and influence. Azar Nafisi's Reading “Lolita” in Tehran: A Memoir in Books is specifically considered. In Reading “Lolita”, Nafisi recalls that revolutionary Iran became obsessed with America in the 1980s. Reading “Lolita” has been carried on the wave of enthusiasm for reading as mass entertainment. It reflects the book group and the accomplished reader back to themselves in the most flattering terms imaginable. It is also a passionate and polemical narrative about the novel, the reader, and cultural politics. Nafisi's book renews a liberal humanism in American literary criticism and hearkens back to an earlier age to revive a literary canon and critical epistemology. The success of Nafisi and her memoir in the American market is a spectacular example of the appropriation of exilic writing to set a vogue and to neutralize Iranian and Islamic difference as style.

Keywords: memoir; power; Azar Nafisi; Reading Lolita; Iran; American literary; liberal humanism; cultural politics

Chapter.  10121 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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