Ciudad Real, Friday VI.VII.MMVII

I reminded him that Gatsby was a work of fiction and not a how-to manual.
Nafisi, A. (MMIII). Reading Lolita in Tehran. A Memoir in Books. London: Harper Perennial.

Not too long ago, I heard someone in the news—the BBC news, I think—say something very similar to this. He was speaking about the Koran. He said it offered the faithful spiritual guidance, but should never be understood as a set of rules to be followed ad pedem litterae. From what I’ve gathered up to now from the abovementioned memoir, Persian author Azar Nafisi holds the same view.

This book I’m reading is as genuine as they come. It is filled with gems such as the one above and the one below, and far, far greater ones that I’m not quoting here. The following excerpt has to do with my so-called profession.

He said, Of course I take it seriously. You have put yourself in a vulnerable position in relation to your students. You have allowed them—no, not just that; you have forced them into questioning your judgment as a teacher.
Nafisi, A. (MMIII). Reading Lolita in Tehran. A Memoir in Books. London: Harper Perennial.

I know what it’s like; I know how it feels. I’ve been there myself. Not once, but several times. And it’s all because I can’t help seeing my students for what they are: namely, human beings. This is something most of the teachers I’ve met know how to avoid, either from nature or training. Sometimes I wish I were more like them, just wish, for I’ve never really tried to be like them. I guess it’s because I see myself more as a guide or an outstanding student than as a teacher. Which doesn’t mean I do not do my best to keep my distance. This is something that I’ve learned the hard way. Bad experiences invariably make us wary of others.

Unfortunately, this is not a book I would recommend the average EOI student. It requires rather more than just being acquainted with the works of Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and Austen. In order to follow her comments and fully understand the comparisons she makes, the reader ought to have previously read—extensively: a standard knowledge is not enough—the writers in hand.

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10.07.07. Diary.

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