Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘wealth corrupts

“The Great Gatsby” book on trial: In Iran Islamic Republic?

In the early 1980’s, waves of makeshift trials were levied on all kinds of “criminal elements“, those employed in the Shah of Iran institutions and the “westernized” citizens…Many were sentenced for a few years of prison terms, only to be eventually executed in jail…

Nyazi was a student in the English literature class of Azar Nafisi, and he proclaimed that the book “The Great Gatsby” of Fitzgerald was a representative of the kinds of poisons that American novels disseminate in the Islamic Iranian society…

The English literature teacher at the university of Tehran, AzarNafisi, suggested that the book be put on trial in class.

Nyazi would be the prosecutor of the book, another student Farzad was appointed the judge, and the girl Zarrin was to be the public defense. Since no student agreed to be the defendant (representing or the witness of the book), Azar had no choice but to accept this role.

Maybe it was not proper for Azar to be cornered into the role of the defendant (the book), on the ground that she is opening the way for the students to question her judgment as a teacher, but Azar loved these kinds of drama and anxiety. In any case, Azar sincerely believed that this “subversive” book trial is a necessary step in the right direction to confronting the trend of a totalitarian and theocratic sentiment that highjacked the revolution…

Nyazi sat in the middle of the classroom reading from papers he had prepared, and began his “opening” statement:

“Imam Ayatollah Komeini, the leader of the revolution, relegated a great task to the poets and writers. Khomeini is the shepherd of the flock and the writers are the watchdogs to counter the western materialistic ideology and culture.

In the battle against the Great Satan (US imperialism, a reminder of President REAGAN proclaiming the Soviet Union as the Great Evil) that is disseminating its immoral poisons of cheating on wives, encouraging prostitution, adultary going unpunished, illicit relationship the norm, fornication… a culture meant to rape the islamic moral value system, thus the western fiction novels must be banned…”

After the long speech of Nyazi that never touched on the book and talking generalities of western fiction harms done to the revolution, Zarrin took her turn as defense lawyer, and said while walking around and turning around Nyazi:

“Our dear prosecutor committed the fallacy of getting too close to the amusement park. He can no longer distinguish fiction from reality. Nyazi leaves no space, no breathing room between the two world. He demonstrated this weakness of inability to read a novel on its own terms. His judgment is crude, a simplistic exaltation of right and wrong

Is it bad if characters in a novel stray from Nyazi’s moral values?

A fiction can be called moral when it shakes us out of our stupor, and encourages us to confront the absolutes we believe in. Gatsby has succeeded brilliantly in creating such a controversy…

Gatsby is on trial because the book disturbs us. Many controversial books were put on trial by societies, and they all won their cases…

It is true that Gatsby loves to get wealthy and he recognizes that money is one of Daisy’s attractions, but this novel is NOT about a poor young charlatan’s love of money. This fiction is NOT about “the rich are different from you and me”. It is about how wealth corrupts

The most corrupt characters in the novel are the rich and wealthy people, those careless people who smash up creatures and things and then retreat back into their money, and let other people clean up the mess they had made

The wealthy Jordan Baker admits she is careless and lightly responds that she counts on other people to be careful…

The dream that the wealthy classes embodies is an alloyed dream that destroys whoever tries to get close to it

This carelessness is a lack of empathy and it appears in all great novel works. Imagination in these great subversive works is equated with empathy. We can’t experience all that others have gone through, but we can understand even the most monstrous characters in great novels…

Gatsby novel shows the complexities of the characters, and each character is given the opportunity to respond, to express his opinion, to has a Voice. The biggest sin is to be blind to others’ problems and pains.

Not seeing the pains and frustrations in the characters means denying their existence. This behavior is significant of those who tend to see the world in black and white, drunk on the righteousness of their own fiction…”

At the end of the trial, Zarrin said softly: “Why students bother to claim to be literature major? If they fail to be wary of the consequences of the in unusualdreams they value? If they fail to look for integrity in unusual places…? I enjoyed reading the Great Gatsby. Can’t you see?”

After the class was dismissed, the students were arguing vehemently, and NOT over the US hostages (the personnel in the US embassy during president Carter), the recent demonstrations or Rajavi (leader of the Marxist Mujahideen Khalk) or Khomeini… The students were discussing the Great Gatsby…

Note 1: Inspired from “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi

Note 2: Do you think people have gone on strike or the citizens in the Dust Bowl headed west by reading Steinbeck?

Did people go whaling or stopped whaling after reading Melville?

Note 3: In modern times, many books faced trials such as Madame Bovary (Flaubert), Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lolita…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2021
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