Writers + Revolution

With the news of political unrest in Iran, I've been thinking about Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and what a great graphic memoir that is to teach. It's about a girl growing up in the aftermath of the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. I taught portions of it last summer and asked students to write and illustrate their own coming-of-age stories thinking of historical events that were unfolding at the time.


Then I came across this. Azar Nafisi, an Iranian writer and author of the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, was interviewed by Al Jazeera about the recent elections in Iran. I found this part of the question and answer interesting:

You've talked about and write about the importance of literature and culture in the fight for human rights and liberty in Iran and around the world. But is art, culture, literature ever going to be more powerful than religion? Is it enough to start a revolution?

"If you look at it in the long term - yes it is. I never forget when Paul Ricoer, the philosopher, came to speak in Iran. He was an eighty-year-old but was treated like [the American rock star] Bon Jovi.

At one point the minister for Islamic Guidance said to him: "People like us [politicians] will vanish but you people will endure." That will always remain with me. We don't remember the king who ruled in the time of [14th century Persian poet] Hafiz, we remember Hafiz."


Nafisi also says that the most interesting aspect of the election is not its outcome but that the reform candidate, Mousavi, was once part of the Iranian regime. She says, "many within the ruling elite in Iran are realizing they cannot rule the society the way they claimed they could. A good example is Mr. Mousavi himself."

For more of the interview, go here.

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