Study Guide Perse

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Persepolis
Marjane Satrapi

A Study guide

Persepolis was originally published in France where it won several awards and wide acclaim. In 2003, the novel was published by Random House in the United States. Persepolis is a graphic novel which tells the story of its author and her childhood in Tehran, Iran. The novel details the author's family life in the context of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the overthrow of the Shah, and the resulting Iran-Iraq War. The book is drawn in a stark black and white style and is told from the perspective of Satrapi's childhood self. The book's themes deal with the moral ambiguities of the Iranian Revolution, the dissonance between politics and class, the history of Middle Eastern relations, and the process of growing up during political turmoil and war. The novel's release was particularly poignant in the United States. It came in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, the beginnings of the Iraq War, and the increasing strain on American-Iranian relations. It shed light on the tumultuous history behind Middle Eastern politics and it gave a personal dimension to stereotypical Western views of Middle Eastern culture and religion. The novel explicitly deals with issues of class disparities and Satrapi frames these debates as contradictory and conflicted. Satrapi's family was, for instance, Marxist and communist, yet they kept a maid and maintained a more privileged lifestyle than lower classes. These contradictions within her own family are meant to reflect the contradictions in Iranian society both then and now. As a work of political and cultural art, the novel has been criticized by some for its one-sided portrayal of Islamic culture. Her portrayal of the Islamic regime that took over control of the country after the Revolution is largely one sided. Her interpretation is grounded in Middle Eastern culture and infused with Western cultural sensibilities. Critics have claimed that Satrapi fails to take seriously the millions of Muslims that adhere to a conservative dogmatic faith. Satrapi's graphic novel has undeniably become an important work of modern literature. It has joined Art Spiegelman's Maus as one of the most popular and well received graphic memoirs, and it has become one of the most widely popular works that specifically deal with the cultural and political issues of the modern Middle East.

Table of contents

The author
Cultural background
Major themes
Summary & Analysis: Introduction, The Veil, The Bicycle
Summary & Analysis: The Water Cell, Persepolis, The Letter
Summary & Analysis: The Party, The Heroes, Moscow
Summary & Analysis: The Sheep, The Trip, The F-14's
Summary & Analysis: The Jewels, The Key, The Wine
Summary & Analysis: The Cigarette, The Passport, Kim Wilde
Summary & Analysis: The Shabbat, The Dowry
Summary & Analysis: The Soup, Tyrol, Pasta
Summary & Analysis: The Pill, The Vegetable, The Horse
Summary & Analysis: Hide and Seek, The Croissant, The Veil
Summary & Analysis: The Return, The Joke, Skiing
Summary & Analysis: The Exam, Makeup, The Convocation
Summary & Analysis: The Socks, The Wedding, The Satellite
Source

The author

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian born French author, graphic novelist, director, and illustrator. As a child, she attended the Lycée Français in Tehran where her family was involved with communist and leftist political groups partly responsible for the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Her graphic novel, Persepolis, is a memoir of her childhood growing up during the Revolution, the subsequent Islamic regime that took control of Iran after the Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980's. In 1983, Satrapi was sent to Austria by her parents where she attended the Lycée Français de Vienne. She returned to Iran after graduating high school where she attended university. She received her diploma and then received a Masters degree in Visual Communication. At 21, Satrapi married an Iranian man, but the marriage lasted...
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