How is Nafisi's persona not irredeemably aloof in Reading Lolita in Tehran?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Azi's persona can be seen as not irredeemably aloof in a couple of ways.  She is actually not aloof at all in the way she seeks to create a sense of "praxis" in what she does.  Azi seeks to bridge the gap between literature and reality, clearly suggesting that she is not aloof.  In constructing the reading group of women and literature, she shows her willingness to embrace reality with intellectual currents.  Azi is not aloof because she seeks to make connections between the two realms.  She understands that literature can have meaning and that meaning is relevant to the lives of her students, women who are experiencing their own silencing of voice. In seeking to give voice to these women and to make literature its conduit, Nafisi shows that she is not irredeemably aloof.  Rather, she is willing to engage theory and practice in a realm that hears the cries of others' suffering and actually seeks to do something about it.

In her teaching and belief system, Nafisi proves to be quite the opposite of irredeemably aloof.  When one of her students questions the moral teachings and basis of The Great Gatsby, she organizes a classroom trial of Fitzgerald's work.  In a setting that is constructed whereby it is the "Islamic Republic of Iran against The Great Gatsby," Nafisi shows that she is not aloof.  She understands the realistic and vibrant condition in which literature operates in the world, her world.  She seeks to do something about this condition of being in the world.  Consider Azi's own philosophy about literature in this regard, demonstrating a willingness to engage ideas and reality into a realm of theory that is practical to the lives of millions:

A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic—not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so.

This is not aloof, or irredeemably aloof.  Rather, it shows Azi to be extremely willing to be an active participant in the world of ideas and the world of suffering around her.

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Reading Lolita in Tehran

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