“Melancholy Ties: Intergenerational Loss and Exile in Persepolis” analyzes the way in which collective loss is represented in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis books. Unlike the spectacular, violent, media images of the Middle East, which detach the Western spectator from the stories and humanity of Near Eastern peoples, Satrapi's graphic novel views a young girl's developing sense of self through intergenerational stories. Moreover, Satrapi's second Persepolis work recognizes the alienation and loss that occurs because the protagonist experiences the cultural violence of being labeled with stereotypes while she is living in Europe. Specifically, this essay examines how these two texts depict the psychological paradox that traumatic experiences-individual, familial, and social-inflect a partial destruction and particular reconstruction of one's self. In the books' historical settings, the deposition of the shah and the Islamic revolution in Iran in the first and the Iran-Iraq war and the exile of the protagonist in Europe in the second, the losses are portrayed through intergenerational stories, cultural exile, and the difficulties of return, as well as the direct experiences of violence. These intergenerational, cross-social, and cross-cultural losses are depicted by Satrapi as influencing the protagonist's sense of self. The melancholy ties-rooted in loss and East-West encounters-grow into cultural and intergenerational bonds by the end of Persepolis II. Replacing detached media violence, these Persepolis books offer a more intimate and globally interconnected portrait.
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Research Article| May 01 2008
Kimberly Wedeven Segall; Melancholy Ties: Intergenerational Loss and Exile in Persepolis. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2008; 28 (1): 38–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-2007-054
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