In this season when we focus on all the blessings we have received, we can never forget or take for granted the freedoms that we enjoy. Reading Lolita in Tehran certainly serves as a stark reminder of what happens when those freedoms no longer exist.
Azar Nafisi studied literature as a graduate student in the United States. At school she enjoyed sitting with other Iranian students and engaging in heated conversation about the politics of Iran. They opposed the U.S. support of the Shah and were thrilled when he was deposed. They envisioned positive reforms in their government, and did not see the danger in what was ahead.
After completing her degree, Azar returned to Tehran and began her career as a teacher of literature at a university in Tehran. She taught a popular course in Western literature, but it wasn’t to last long. When she refused to wear “the veil” while teaching, she was forced to leave the job that she loved.
Eventually, of course, the veil and robe became mandatory for all women in Iran. The freedoms of women were greatly curtailed, and the women became anonymous, silent fi