What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books. - Thomas Carlyle

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" - Pooh's Little Instruction Book

Bookworm - Carl Spitzweg

Monday, June 27, 2005

New Words?

Val and I have been reading the book with interest. In particular, Val noticed that some of the larger and more difficult words she used (like solipsizers, adumbrate, etc.) are not really being used in a way that follows any of the definitions found in Webster's dictionary. We know that we may not have all the various connotations possible in our dictionary, but it does make it a little confusing. We were wondering if this was a result of English being her second language, or if the book was writtne in her native tongue first and poor translation is to blame? It could also be possible that an editor is the cause of these new connotations. It might even be conceievable that, like Nabokov's poshlust, she is creating whole new meanings for the words. Any thoughts?

Indians are 'world's biggest bookworms'

Read all about it, boy: Indians are 'world's biggest bookworms'!

Indians by average read 10.7 hours a week. In comparison, Americans read only 5.7 hours a week.

All of you had better start cracking on the books - so that you can take the national average higher. ;-)

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Mates, I have been greedily reading this book and I can't set it down.

Frankly, I have never read a book like this. It brings me to structures of so many ideas and philosophies that I have never thought about. After all, I have read only a handful of fictions.

On to Poshlust.

Does anyone really get the idea of Poshlust as described in the book? I seem to get pieces of it - about the disparity between reality and banality - but not all the links. Please explain what you understand it to be. (Reference: page 23. "...The two pictures remind us of the close relationship between banality and brutality. Nabokov had a special Russian term for it: poshlust."

The role of fiction, as she explains, in their lives seems quite strange to me (I mean, I read fiction flippantly - reading it in the morning and not remembering much the next day): " these great works of imagnation could help us in our present trapped situation as women. We were not looking for blue-prints, for an easy solution, but we did hope to find a link between the open spaces the novels provided and the closed spaces we were confined to." (page 19)

In the same vein it is interesting to note Nabokov's claim, also in page 19: "readers were born free and ought to remain free".

What do you think?

I am excited to be learning these things.

Upsilamba to you too!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Reading Preparation

Hey, all. I have found it helpful to learn a bit about the books that form the backbone of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Some of them I have never read and others have needed a refresher. Here are links to Spark notes on each of the books: Lolita , The Great Gatsby, Daisy Miller, and Pride and Prejudice.

It's helpful to look up a couple additional papers as well that give some context to the authors of those books. Doing this preparation only takes a little time and will add a lot to your appreciation of Nafisi.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lolita Lite?

The first couple chapters of Reading Lolita in Tehran have made an unexpected first impression. The "journey of self discovery" tale shows inklings of being every bit as maudlin as I would have expected, but Ms. Nafisi displays a facility with the English language that adumbrates a careful study of Nabokov. It will be interesting to see, as the lives unfold, if her craft extends to the knife edge comedic analysis of Humbert. There is sufficient light in any one of the four novels Nafisi has chosen as lodestars for her group's journey to shed many interesting shadows on our lives as Nafisi's readers.

I'm curious whether you all see her setting up her students as Lolitas or Humberts? The disadvantaged innocents in the grip of Iran's McFate or dastardly madmen who paint themselves to any color they please by understanding the slippery nature of defined morality?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Book II - Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

The voting is closed now.

And we have picked Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books - by Azar Nafisi for our next reading. This book received 69 points. Everyone who voted wants to read this book, except for two.

The next book of choice is Stories from Rwanda, with 51 points. The third choice is Frankenstein, with 47 points.

I will be placing an order for my copy of Reading Lolita in Tehran from on Thursday. Please let me know if you would like me to order you a copy as well. The price is $9.76 at and $13.50 at local Barnes & Noble.

We will take six weeks to read this book and we will meet on Sunday, July 24th to discuss it. Please mark this date on your calendars.

As usual, check the blog for discussions and other info.

Read Happy!