Although neither Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books nor Fatemeh Keshavarz's Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran completely lends itself to be discussed with the same tools usually adopted in analyzing Western modes of life writing—in this case, memoirs—both works still raise the valid and universal question in this field: how much of the true self is disguised by the subject, the “I” in each memoir? By drawing on the issues of truth, selectivity, memory, and subjectivity, I argue that “the true self” is disguised by the subject more in Keshavarz's memoir than by Nafisi in Reading Lolita in Tehran, although Keshavarz and a host of other critics, including Hamid Dabashi, hold a different opinion in their belligerent criticisms of Nafisi's book. In this essay, I also explore the concepts of homeland, exile, ultra-patriotism, and anti-patriotism within the context of contemporary Iranian politics and with multiple references to religious issues as they are brought up in both works. Moreover, my comparative essay also deals with the literary style and the literary content in each work from an original perspective.
Manijeh Mannani; Reading Beyond Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2009; 29 (2): 322–333. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2009-013
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