Azar Nafisi

Literary Birthday – 1 December – Azar Nafisi

Happy Birthday, Azar Nafisi, born 1 December 1955.

Azar Nafisi Quotes

  1. Every great work of art… is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors, and infidelities of life.
  2. You don’t read Gatsby 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.
  3. You need imagination in order to imagine a future that doesn’t exist.
  4. You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, 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.
  5. I see people who talk about America, and then undermine it by not paying attention to its soul, to its poetry. I see polarisation, reductionism and superficiality.
  6. A novel is not an allegory…. 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 empathise, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing.
  7. Every fairy tale offers the potential to surpass present limits, so in a sense the fairy tale offers you freedoms that reality denies.
  8. Most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home. The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed immutable.
  9. Only curiosity about the fate of others, the ability to put ourselves in their shoes, and the will to enter their world through the magic of imagination, creates this shock of recognition. Without this empathy there can be no genuine dialogue, and we as individuals and nations will remain isolated and alien, segregated and fragmented.
  10. That, of course, is what great works of imagination do for us: They make us a little restless, destabilise us, question our preconceived notions and formulas.
  11. Poor reading, like poor writing, is imposing what you already know on texts. You should go into reading to discover, not to reaffirm what you know.
  12. The dearer a book was to my heart, the more battered and bruised it became.

Azar Nafisi is an Iranian writer and professor of English literature. Her books include Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.

Source for Image

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 1st December 2014