24 April 2006

Nyazi v. Gatsby in Tehran

"This book preaches illicit relations between a man and woman. First we have Tom and his mistress, the scene in her apartment—even the narrator, Nick, is implicated. He doesn't like their lies, but he has no objections to their fornicating and sitting on each other's laps, and, and, those parties at Gatsby's ... remember, ladies and gentlemen, this Gatsby is the hero of the book—and who is he? He is a charlatan, he is an adulterer, he is a liar ... this is a man Nick celebrates and feels sorry for, this man, this destroyer of homes!" Mr. Nyazi was clearly agitated as he conjured the fornicators, liars and adulterers roaming freely in Fitzgerald's luminous world, immune from his wrath and from prosecution. "The only sympathetic person here is the cuckolded husband, Mr. Wilson," Mr. Nyazi boomed. "When he kills Gatsby, it is the hand of God. He is the only victim. He is the genuine symbol of the oppressed, in the land of, of, of the Great Satan!" ...

"Gatsby is dishonest," he cried out, his voice now shrill. "He earns his money by illegal means and tries to buy the love of a married woman. This book is supposed to be about the American dream, but what sort of dream is this? Does the author mean to suggest that we should all be adulterers and bandits? Americans are decadent and in decline because this is their dream. They are going down! This is the last hiccup of a dead culture!" he concluded triumphantly.
SOURCE: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi (Random House, 2004), pp. 126-127

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