The Complete Persepolis

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The Complete Persepolis (2007)

“Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.”

 by Marjane Satrapi

Get it  now here

Marjane Satrapi (Persian: مرجان ساتراپی) is an Iranian-born French contemporary graphic novellist, illustrator, animated film director, and children’s book author. Apart from her native tongue Persian, she speaks English, Swedish, German, French and Italian.

Satrapi grew up in Tehran in a family which was involved with communist and socialist movements in Iran prior to the Iranian Revolution. She attended the Lycée Français there and witnessed, as a child, the growing suppression of civil liberties and the everyday-life consequences of Iranian politics, including the fall of the Shah, the early regime of Ruhollah Khomeini, and the first years of the Iran-Iraq War. She currently lives in Paris, where she is at work on the sequel to Persepolis. She is also the author of several children’s books.


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Since then, this old and great civilization has been discussed mostly in connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism. As an Iranian who has lived more than half my life in Iran, I know that this image is far from the truth. That is why writing Persepolis was so important to me. I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists. I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom, who died in the war against Iraq, who suffered under various repressive regimes, or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten.
One can forgive but one should never forget.
— 

Marjane Satrapi

Paris, September 2002 

The Complete Persepolis 

Just started reading this for English but its looking pretty fantastic so far, after having perused through the first few chapters. 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

1. Kathryn Bishop

2. Persepolis is a graphic novel that is an autobiographical story about the author’s childhood growing up in Iran.  It is named Persepolis because this is an ancient Greek word for a city in Persia, which is modern day Iran. The main character is the author, Marjane. Other characters include her mother, father, grandmother, Uncle Anoosh, and many other people in her life. The novel is broken down into several sections or chapters, each telling a story of an important memory or event that stands out to the author.

Marjane Satrapi grew up in the 1970s and 80s during a very violent and unstable time in Iran’s history. Themes of her stories include religion, oppression in her country, first loves, transition into adulthood, and family. Satrapi wrote her novel in memory of those who died fighting for Iran and to help end judgment against all Iranians because of only a few extremists.

Persepolis 2 begins when Satrapi is 14 years old and going to school in Europe to avoid the violence in Iran. She tells of her new friends she meets in Austria, her first boyfriend, being kicked out and living on the streets, her first marriage and many other events in her life. Her pictures and stories help paint a picture of what it was like to live in Iran and what it was like for an Iranian woman living in Europe during the 1980s.

3. Persepolis’s drawings are very minimal. There is no use of bright colors because the entire novel is drawn in black and white.  This creates a lot of contrast in her drawings. Her drawings are very simplified drawings of mainly people and places. This makes the comics very abstract. I believe that Satrapi creates very simplified drawings of her characters so that it is easier for one to relate to them and to place themselves into the story. The drawings are very dark and heavy due to the fact that they are only black and white. This is appropriate because the mood of the comics is often dark and sometimes depressing, although there is also humor in the novel as well. The drawings are all very 2-dimensional and do not appear to have any mass.

According to Scott McCloud, Persepolis would be very iconic and simplified. The panel transitions are subject-to-subject but also scene-to-scene at times as well. The words and the pictures work interdependently, each providing their own information to the panel.   

4. The reason that Satrapi wrote this book was to share the story of the people of Iran through the eyes of an Iranian citizen. The news and the western world often view Iranians as purely terrorists and extremists. This novel helped show that they are just normal people under an extremist government.

Satrapi addresses many issues in her novel as well, and another one of her purposes may be to bring light to these issues that are still taking place in modern day Iran. One of these issues is the role of gender in Iran and the prejudice against women.  She often talks about how women in Iran have to wear veils and how they could not go anywhere with a man who was not a family member. Satrapi wants to expose this oppression of women.

5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Persepolis, it was very hard to put it down. One of the reasons for this is because the character of Marjane is such a relatable character, which is surprising since her background and mine are not similar in any way. This could because Satrapi uses very abstract drawings which help you to identify with the character.

Another reason that it was such an interesting book was because Marjane Satrapi provided insight into a world that not many people fully know or understand. The Iranian Revolution was not something that was taught in school, at least for me, and I learned many things that I didn’t even know happened.   It also brings a new perspective to events that someone from the United States would never be able to see unless someone from Iran wrote it.

I also enjoyed the fact that Satrapi included life events that every girl goes through. These include coming into adulthood and first loves. This makes Marjane a relatable character by providing the fact that she was at one point a normal, typical teenage girl.

6. Although I greatly enjoyed the book, the one thing that I think the author could improve on is how she explained the history of Iran. At the beginning of Persepolis, a lot of the story has to do with the current events going on in Iran. All of these things are happening because of events in history, which the author does explain, but in a very confusing way. I could not fully follow all of the political groups, who hated who, what side her family was on, etc. I eventually just gave up and read the rest of the story without fully grasping all of this information. Satrapi could have possibly explained it in a less confusing way, but it would still be confusing since many Americans are not aware of the political people and the issues that have affected Iran throughout history.

7. I would recommend this book to any teenager or young adult around the world. I would especially recommend it to young girls. This is because I think it is important for girls to see that in some parts of the world, women are still not treated as equals. It is also important that young girls in America read this book because there are many stereotypes about people from the middle-east and I have learned from this book that they are not that different from us. This book may not be good for a very traditional man in Iran to read, but I really can’t think of anyone else who would not find this book interesting.  It may not be suitable for young children, say in grade school. This is because there is a lot of dark imagery and things, such as violence, executions, and sexual references that may not be appropriate for young kids.

This is a book that I would recommend to all of my friends. Because of this book, I learned so much about Iranian culture and what it was like to live in Iran during the Revolution. I think that everyone should be aware of what is going on in the world. It is also important that we look at things from other people’s perspective, and I think that is why this book is so interesting.

8. Marjane Satrapi has written 4 other novels besides Persepolis and Persepolis 2. The first is called Embroideries.  In 2006, she wrote Chicken with Plums. The book narrates the last eight days of the life of Nasser Ali Khan, a relative of Satrapi’s, in November 1958 in Tehran. She has also written Monsters are Afraid of the Moon and The Sigh.

9. I would give Persepolis 5/5 stars. I couldn’t put it down! 

Marjane Satrapi, the prophet

External image

I know that a lot of people feel apprehensive towards deciphering the comics world, I myself did, and the truth is that they are missing a lot!
I have had the ultimate pleasure reading The Complete Persepolis over the past two weeks. It was nothing but witty, smart, incredibly funny, and informative (I.e. Iran’s history in general); an absolute page-turner. However what fascinated me the most was the honesty of Marjane Satrapi in telling the story of her past, getting rid of her demons, and staying true to herself with such sincerity and modesty. And that is something definitely worthy of respect and admiration.

For anyone who missed it the other day, all my reading list pages are back up and running!

These are some of my faves from the lists: 

Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by George Chauncey 

Storming Caesar’s Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty by Annelise Orleck

Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965 (Gender and American Culture) by Annelise Orleck 

Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (Studies in Jewish History) by Marion A. Kaplan

Shanghai: China’s Gateway to Modernity by Marie-Claire Bergère

Death in the New World: Cross-Cultural Encounters, 1492-1800 (Early American Studies) by Erik R. Seaman

The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000 by Chris Wickham 

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi