UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXIII: May 17, 2010, 7:00 p.m.

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (New York: Pantheon, June 2004) and Persepolis II (New York: Pantheon, August 2005). Translated by Mattias Ripa (first part) and Blake Ferris (second part). Hardcover edition in English originally published in 2003. Original French edition in four volumes published in Paris in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 by L'Association; onevolume edition without page numbers published 2007.
[Thesis. In the original, this graphic autobiography is better organized than in the translation: Part 1 ended with the author's loss of faith, Part 2 with her loss of her country when she is sent to school in Austria, Part 3 with her loss of love (a breakup with a boyfriend) and her health, and Part 4 with her definitive departure for France. In substance, the work is a thoroughgoing denunciation of the repressiveness of the Islamic Republic of Iran.] PERSEPOLIS Introduction. A two-page summary of Iranian/Persian history [but the book never mentions that Persepolis was the capital of the Persian Empire in 550-330 B.C.E.] ([v]-[vi]). [Original edition: Persepolis 1] The Veil. Nine years old at the time of the Iranian Revolution, Marji's French non-religious school is closed; she is veiled. But she had long before conceived the ambition to become a prophet (3-9) The Bicycle. When the Revolution occurred, she was reading leftist comic books and embraced the uprising (10-17). The Water Cell. Her father explains Iranian history to her; she learns that the emperor that Reza Shah overthrew (with British support) was her greatgrandfather, and that her grandfather was a Europeaneducated man who had been prime minister who became a communist and was often imprisoned (1825). Persepolis. Marji's grandmother explains that Reza Shah's son is "ten times worse," wasting resources celebrating Persian grandeur at Persepolis [mentioned only in the title of this section, not in the text]; her father illegally takes pictures of demonstrations (2632). The Letter. The romance of a family's maid, Mehri, with a neighbor who thinks Mehri is one of the family, teaches her about social classes; she attends a political demonstration without permission (33-39). The Party. The fall of the shah; the political complexities of the aftermath (40-46). The Heroes. She hears firsthand from friends of the family how they were tortured by SAVAK (47-53). Moscow. Her desire for heroes in the family is satisfied when she meets Anoosh, an uncle who is a The Jewels. Family friends from Abadan take refugee with Marji's family (87-93). The Key. As the war goes on, Marji's fervor cools and her family adopts a philosophy of resignation. They learn that poor children are being sent to the war with promises of paradise if they die (94-102). The Wine. Tehran is bombed; the fundamental crackdown extends to parties (103-10). The Cigarette. Marji cuts class and rebels against her mother's authority; when Iraq sues for peace, Iran refuses; "the survival of the regime depended on the war"; beginning to smoke marks the end of her childhood (116, 111-17). The Passport. Unable to get a passport (real or fake) in time to have heart surgery, an uncle dies (118-25). Kim Wilde. Her parents smuggle into Iran posters of Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden; buying cassettes, the Guardians of the Revolution almost arrest Marji (12634). The Shabbat. The next door neighbors (including Marji's 14-year-old Jewish friend Neda) are killed in a Scud missile attack on Tehran (135-42). The Dowry. When Marjane rebels as school, her parents decide to send her to school in Austria, where her mother's best friend lives; she is 14 (143-53). PERSEPOLIS 2 [Original edition: Persepolis 3] The Soup. In Vienna, she doesn't fit in with her mother's friends' family and is sent to a Catholic lifelong militant, has lived in the USSR, and who spent nine years in prison (54-61). The Sheep. But as religious zealots crack down, leftist friends are persecuted; Anoosh is arrested and executed; Marjane feels "lost, without any bearings" (71; 62-71). [Original edition: Persepolis 2] The Trip. As new fundamentalist rules are imposed, the family takes a trip to Italy and Spain, then returns to an Iran at war with Iraq (72-79). The F-14s. Marji is swept up in wartime patriotic fervor; her classmate's father, a pilot, is released from prison and dies in a raid on Baghdad (80-86).

boarding school where her roommate speaks German (1-9). Tyrol. Marjane takes up with an older crowd, the friends of Julie, an 18-year-old French girl, then spends Christmas vacation with her roommate's family in the Tyrol (10-18). Pasta. She reads Bakunin, Sartre, and Beauvoir and studies the history of the Paris Commune, then is expelled from school for insolence and goes to live with Julie's family (19-25). The Pill. Julie is promiscuous and her mother, Armelle, an enthusiast of Lacan, is very permissive; Marjane attends her first wild party when Armelle goes on a six-day trip (26-34). The Vegetable. Growing quickly, she imitates others, then reaffirms her Iranian identity (35-43). The Horse. When Julie's family leaves Vienna, Marjane lives in a communal apartment with eight gay men; her mother comes for a visit of several weeks (44-52). Hide and Seek. She falls in with anarchists, likes a boy at the Lycée Français de Vienne (Lycée Razi [122]) but he has no interest in her, then falls in love with Markus, but neither Markus's mother nor her landlady approve; she starts selling drugs to other students (5368). The Croissant. She passes her French baccalaureate exam, stops dealing drugs when the director of the school gives her a warning but continues to take them herself, and breaks up with her unfaithful boyfriend (69-78). The Veil. Dumped, she insults her landlady, becomes homeless, and after three months is hospitalized for acute bronchitis; attempting to collect a debt from her mother's friend, she speaks with her parents and decides to return to Iran (79-91). [Original edition: Persepolis 4] The Return. Back in Tehran, she finds the city oppressive and "sordid," but when her father recounts the horrors of the war, she decides her own problems are "anecdotes of little importance" that she will never tell her parents (98; 103; 92-103). The Joke. She can't bear the company of family and friends, but finds solace in visiting Kia, an old neighborhood friend who has lost an arm and a leg in the war: "That day I learned something essential: we can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes are still supportable... once this limit is crossed, the only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it" (112; 104-12). Skiing. Depressed by her inability to fit in, she tries to kill herself, but fails; deciding to get a grip, she spruces up and becomes an aerobics instructor (113-21). The Exam. She meets her future husband, Reza, a painter; they study for and pass the national exam

(including the ideological exam, where she tells the truth and, to her surprise, is passed) (122-30). The Makeup. She accuses an innocent man of saying something indecent to her to escape the notice of the Guardians of the Revolution; her fiancé approves, but her grandmother does not (131-37). The Convocation. A student again, she challenges the dress code and is tasked with proposing a redesign; she feels "happy with myself" again (138-44). The Socks. Tacit resistance and a "schizophrenic" private/public split characterizes life in Iran for those who disagree with the regime (145-57). The Wedding. Marjane marries Reza, but within months there is discord (158-65). The Satellite. She passes through phases of indifference and obsession with newly available Western media through satellite TV, then begins to take an interest in political ideas again (166-73). The End. After working with her husband on an Iranian theme park that is never built, Marji decides to divorce and move to Europe; she is accepted in a school in Strasbourg and moves definitively to France in September 1994 (174-87). Acknowledgments. Editors, associates, researchers, and sources. About the Author. Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran, and now lives in Paris. She has written several children's books and works as an illustrator. [Additional information. Marjane Satrapi was born on Nov. 22, 1969, into a family with an aristocratic background and communist sympathies. Her parents sent her to Austria to escape the Iranian regime. In Strasbourg she studied at the École supérieure des arts décoratifs. She became part of a group of BD artists called the Atelier des Vosges. Her black-and-white style was influenced by that of David B. (pen name of Pierre-François Beauchard), who also produced a multi-volume graphic autobiography and who co-founded L'Association, her publisher. Art Spiegelman's Maus (1980-1991) also influenced her retelling of her life, which has met with both immense critical and popular success. She collaborated on Vincent Paronnaud's 2007 film adaptation of the books, which won two Césars at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. She is now working with Paronnaud on a film version of her book Poulet aux prunes (2004). Her other books: Sagesse et malices de la Perse (2001, with Lila Ibrahim-Ouali and Bahman Namwar-Motalg); Les monstres n'aiment pas la lune (2001); Ulysse au pays des fous (2001, with Jean-Pierre Duffour); Adjar (2001); Broderies (2003); Le soupir (2004). In the crisis following the June 2009 presidential elections, Marjane Satrapi supported Mir-Hossein Mousavi.] [Critique. A charming and often moving candid memoir of the author's coming of age, from ten to twenty-four. Persepolis is a denunciation of the Islamic Republic, but the memoir's presentation of history is scant: the significance of the title is left unstated, and no member of the Islamic regime is mentioned, even

the Ayatollah Khomenei. The author clearly has radical leftist political sympathies. She is a thoroughly secular feminist, but does allow that some in the regime are "true religious" (Persepolis 2, 130, 144). Her illustrations are often ingenious. Surprisingly in a memoir by an artist, there is quite a bit more in the

books about political and intellectual than about artistic influences. But none of these influences is explored in any depth; it is the development of the author's character that is her true subject. — The translators have done an excellent job.]

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