29+ quotes from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

Quotes from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Azar Nafisi ·  356 pages

Rating: (102.3K votes)


“You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Memories have ways of becoming independent of the reality they evoke. They can soften us against those we were deeply hurt by or they can make us resent those we once accepted and loved unconditionally.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“It takes courage to die for a cause, but also to live for one.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“None of us can avoid being contaminated by the world's evils; it's all a matter of what attitude you take towards them.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels--the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Reality has become so intolerable, she said, so bleak, that all I can paint now are the colors of my dreams.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Living in the Islamic Republic is like having sex with someone you loathe.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Imagine you are walking down a leafy path…The sun is receding, and you are walking alone, caressed by the breezy light of the late afternoon. Then suddenly, you feel a large drop on your right arm. Is it raining? You look up. The sky is still deceptively sunny…seconds later another drop. Then, with the sun still perched in the sky, you are drenched in a shower of rain. This is how memories invade me, abruptly and unexpectedly…”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Every fairy tale offers the potential to surpass present limits, so in a sense the fairy tale offers you freedoms that reality denies.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“I told them this novel was an American classic, in many ways the quintessential American novel. There were other contenders: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby-Dick, The Scarlet Letter. Some cite its subject matter, the American Dream, to justify this distinction. We in ancient countries have our past--we obsess over the past. They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“It is only through literature that one can put oneself in someone else’s shoes and understand the other’s different and contradictory sides and refrain from becoming too ruthless. Outside the sphere of literature only one aspect of individuals is revealed. But if you understand their different dimensions you cannot easily murder them. . .”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Art is as useful as bread.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“[A] novel is not moral in the usual sense of the word. It can be called moral when it shakes us out of our stupor and makes us confront the absolutes we believe in.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“The worst crime committed by totalitarian mind-sets is that they force their citizens, including their victims, to become complicit in their crimes. Dancing with your jailer, participating in your own execution, that is an act of utmost brutality.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic - not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so. Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels - the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“I am suddenly left alone again on the sunny path, with a memory of the rain.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“With fear come the lies and the justifications that, no matter how convincing, lower our self-esteem.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“The novels were an escape from reality in the sense that we could marvel at their beauty and perfection.

Curiously, the novels we escaped into led us finally to question and prod our own realities, about which we felt so helplessly speechless.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“Once evil is individualized, becoming part of everyday life, the way of resisting it also becomes individual. How does the soul survive? is the essential question. And the response is: through love and imagination.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“I eat my heart out alone.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“A novel is not an allegory, I said as the period was about to come to an end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“We in ancient countries have our past—we obsess over the past. They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“those who judge must take all aspects of an individual's personality into account.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“She resented the fact that her veil, which to her was a symbol of scared relationship to god, had now become an instrument of power, turning the women who wore them into political signs and symbols.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“In all great works of fiction, regardless of the grim reality they present, there is an affirmation of life against the transience of that life, an essential defiance. This affirmation lies in the way the author takes control of reality by retelling it in his own way, thus creating a new world. Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life. The perfection and beauty of form rebels against the ugliness and shabbiness of the subject matter.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


“If I turned towards books, it was because they were the only sanctuary I knew, one I needed in order to survive, to protect some aspect of myself that was now in constant retreat.”
― Azar Nafisi, quote from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


About the author

Azar Nafisi
Born place: in Tehran, Iran
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