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 with 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.
The quote above comes from Azar Nafisi’s unique memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
. It was, I thought, most intriguing way to construct a memoir, but it makes sense given Nafisi’s role as a literature professor. Her readings of Nabokov, Jane Austen, and others were fascinating to me, because she read them through the lense of her life in the Islamic Republic of Iran and thus her takes on those novels were different than the way I read them in my environment. Nafisi points out the main reason I love fiction (GOOD fiction, that is, not trash or pop stuff) – it adds dimension to the way we understand different cultures and eras and informs our own experience.
The book was not a quick read, I found it hard to read large chunks of it at a sitting, although I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’d recommend it, but you’ll get more out of it if you’ve previously read Nabokov, Austen, Henry James, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Psalms, Jeremiah, Matthew, Acts
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