Tuesday, May 10, 2016
This week: science, the middle east, and a duel
Dear readers, I'm beginning to suspect books are a racket. Today I began reading one and within fifty pages, I'd already written down four more titles that I wanted to investigate. No wonder people read fiction -- it's far less addictive. Anyhoo, May is off to a promisingly interesting start, with more science and middle-eastern politics coming up. Speaking of --
A few weeks ago, I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, and apparently didn't mention it. It's a curious mixture of literary discussion and revolutionary memoir, as the author, Azar Nafisi, discusses great books of the western canon (and Lolita) with her classes in Iran as the country heaves with revolution. Ms. Nafisi was a leftist revolutionary in her youth, at least during her time in America: imagine her surprise when she returned to Iran and got one, just not the one she expected. While opposition to the Shah's regime drew from both the secular-Marxist left and the reactionary-Islamic right, it was the latter which prevailed. Feeling irrelevant by the new regime, and appalled by its puritanical culture, Nafesi would seek sanctuary first in her classroom, and then in a private class taught from her home, teaching to a select group of girls. Throughout their discussions they sought to apply the themes engaged by Nabokov, James, Fitzgerald, and Austen: for instance, as Humbert from Lolita turns a young girl into an object of his own interests, to be molded by his own proclivities, so the government of Iran has turned them into objects to be molded by its desires. While I haven't read most of the books discussed by Nafisi's class or her reading group, I found it very interesting as a memoir of the revolution. I'm particularly interested in following up with The Republic of the Imagination, as Nafisi -- having fled Iran -- seeks her true city via the literary world, engaging with minds across the ages.
I'll also be having a little fun with titles later. You may remember when I read Into Thin Air, followed shortly by Into Thick Air, or my reading two books entitled Kobayashi Maru back to back. Well, another dueling duo arrived in the mail today, and the only thing preventing me from diving right in is...all the other books I'm intent on reading. We'll have to see what I cram in where...