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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; one-
volume edition without page numbers published 2007.
[Thesis. In the original, this graphic autobiography is lifelong militant, has lived in the USSR, and who spent
better organized than in the translation: Part 1 ended nine years in prison (54-61).
with the author's loss of faith, Part 2 with her loss of
her country when she is sent to school in Austria, Part The Sheep. But as religious zealots crack down,
3 with her loss of love (a breakup with a boyfriend) and leftist friends are persecuted; Anoosh is arrested and
her health, and Part 4 with her definitive departure for executed; Marjane feels "lost, without any bearings"
France. In substance, the work is a thoroughgoing (71; 62-71).
denunciation of the repressiveness of the Islamic
Republic of Iran.] [Original edition: Persepolis 2]

PERSEPOLIS The Trip. As new fundamentalist rules are imposed,


the family takes a trip to Italy and Spain, then returns
Introduction. A two-page summary of Iranian/Persian to an Iran at war with Iraq (72-79).
history [but the book never mentions that Persepolis
was the capital of the Persian Empire in 550-330 The F-14s. Marji is swept up in wartime patriotic
B.C.E.] ([v]-[vi]). fervor; her classmate's father, a pilot, is released from
prison and dies in a raid on Baghdad (80-86).
[Original edition: Persepolis 1]
The Jewels. Family friends from Abadan take refugee
The Veil. Nine years old at the time of the Iranian with Marji's family (87-93).
Revolution, Marji's French non-religious school is
closed; she is veiled. But she had long before The Key. As the war goes on, Marji's fervor cools and
conceived the ambition to become a prophet (3-9) her family adopts a philosophy of resignation. They
learn that poor children are being sent to the war with
The Bicycle. When the Revolution occurred, she was promises of paradise if they die (94-102).
reading leftist comic books and embraced the uprising
(10-17). The Wine. Tehran is bombed; the fundamental
crackdown extends to parties (103-10).
The Water Cell. Her father explains Iranian history to
her; she learns that the emperor that Reza Shah The Cigarette. Marji cuts class and rebels against her
overthrew (with British support) was her great- mother's authority; when Iraq sues for peace, Iran
grandfather, and that her grandfather was a European- refuses; "the survival of the regime depended on the
educated man who had been prime minister who war"; beginning to smoke marks the end of her
became a communist and was often imprisoned (18- childhood (116, 111-17).
25).
The Passport. Unable to get a passport (real or fake)
Persepolis. Marji's grandmother explains that Reza in time to have heart surgery, an uncle dies (118-25).
Shah's son is "ten times worse," wasting resources
celebrating Persian grandeur at Persepolis [mentioned Kim Wilde. Her parents smuggle into Iran posters of
only in the title of this section, not in the text]; her Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden; buying cassettes, the
father illegally takes pictures of demonstrations (26- Guardians of the Revolution almost arrest Marji (126-
32). 34).

The Letter. The romance of a family's maid, Mehri, The Shabbat. The next door neighbors (including
with a neighbor who thinks Mehri is one of the family, Marji's 14-year-old Jewish friend Neda) are killed in a
teaches her about social classes; she attends a political Scud missile attack on Tehran (135-42).
demonstration without permission (33-39).
The Dowry. When Marjane rebels as school, her
The Party. The fall of the shah; the political parents decide to send her to school in Austria, where
complexities of the aftermath (40-46). her mother's best friend lives; she is 14 (143-53).

The Heroes. She hears firsthand from friends of the PERSEPOLIS 2


family how they were tortured by SAVAK (47-53).
[Original edition: Persepolis 3]
Moscow. Her desire for heroes in the family is
satisfied when she meets Anoosh, an uncle who is a The Soup. In Vienna, she doesn't fit in with her
mother's friends' family and is sent to a Catholic
boarding school where her roommate speaks German (including the ideological exam, where she tells the
(1-9). truth and, to her surprise, is passed) (122-30).

Tyrol. Marjane takes up with an older crowd, the The Makeup. She accuses an innocent man of saying
friends of Julie, an 18-year-old French girl, then spends something indecent to her to escape the notice of the
Christmas vacation with her roommate's family in the Guardians of the Revolution; her fiancé approves, but
Tyrol (10-18). her grandmother does not (131-37).

Pasta. She reads Bakunin, Sartre, and Beauvoir and The Convocation. A student again, she challenges
studies the history of the Paris Commune, then is the dress code and is tasked with proposing a
expelled from school for insolence and goes to live with redesign; she feels "happy with myself" again (138-44).
Julie's family (19-25).
The Socks. Tacit resistance and a "schizophrenic"
The Pill. Julie is promiscuous and her mother, private/public split characterizes life in Iran for those
Armelle, an enthusiast of Lacan, is very permissive; who disagree with the regime (145-57).
Marjane attends her first wild party when Armelle goes
on a six-day trip (26-34). The Wedding. Marjane marries Reza, but within
months there is discord (158-65).
The Vegetable. Growing quickly, she imitates others,
then reaffirms her Iranian identity (35-43). The Satellite. She passes through phases of
indifference and obsession with newly available
The Horse. When Julie's family leaves Vienna, Western media through satellite TV, then begins to
Marjane lives in a communal apartment with eight gay take an interest in political ideas again (166-73).
men; her mother comes for a visit of several weeks
(44-52). The End. After working with her husband on an
Iranian theme park that is never built, Marji decides to
Hide and Seek. She falls in with anarchists, likes a divorce and move to Europe; she is accepted in a
boy at the Lycée Français de Vienne (Lycée Razi [122]) school in Strasbourg and moves definitively to France
but he has no interest in her, then falls in love with in September 1994 (174-87).
Markus, but neither Markus's mother nor her landlady
Acknowledgments. Editors, associates, researchers,
approve; she starts selling drugs to other students (53-
and sources.
68).
About the Author. Marjane Satrapi was born in
The Croissant. She passes her French baccalaureate 1969 in Rasht, Iran, and now lives in Paris. She has
exam, stops dealing drugs when the director of the written several children's books and works as an
school gives her a warning but continues to take them illustrator.
herself, and breaks up with her unfaithful boyfriend [Additional information. Marjane Satrapi was
(69-78). born on Nov. 22, 1969, into a family with an
aristocratic background and communist sympathies.
The Veil. Dumped, she insults her landlady, becomes Her parents sent her to Austria to escape the Iranian
homeless, and after three months is hospitalized for regime. In Strasbourg she studied at the École
acute bronchitis; attempting to collect a debt from her supérieure des arts décoratifs. She became part of a
mother's friend, she speaks with her parents and group of BD artists called the Atelier des Vosges. Her
decides to return to Iran (79-91). black-and-white style was influenced by that of David
B. (pen name of Pierre-François Beauchard), who also
[Original edition: Persepolis 4] produced a multi-volume graphic autobiography and
who co-founded L'Association, her publisher. Art
The Return. Back in Tehran, she finds the city Spiegelman's Maus (1980-1991) also influenced her
oppressive and "sordid," but when her father recounts retelling of her life, which has met with both immense
the horrors of the war, she decides her own problems critical and popular success. She collaborated on
are "anecdotes of little importance" that she will never Vincent Paronnaud's 2007 film adaptation of the books,
tell her parents (98; 103; 92-103). which won two Césars at the 2007 Cannes Film
Festival. She is now working with Paronnaud on a film
The Joke. She can't bear the company of family and version of her book Poulet aux prunes (2004). Her
friends, but finds solace in visiting Kia, an old other books: Sagesse et malices de la Perse (2001,
neighborhood friend who has lost an arm and a leg in with Lila Ibrahim-Ouali and Bahman Namwar-Motalg);
the war: "That day I learned something essential: we Les monstres n'aiment pas la lune (2001); Ulysse au
can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes pays des fous (2001, with Jean-Pierre Duffour); Adjar
are still supportable... once this limit is crossed, the (2001); Broderies (2003); Le soupir (2004). In the crisis
only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it" (112; following the June 2009 presidential elections, Marjane
104-12). Satrapi supported Mir-Hossein Mousavi.]
Skiing. Depressed by her inability to fit in, she tries to [Critique. A charming and often moving candid
kill herself, but fails; deciding to get a grip, she spruces memoir of the author's coming of age, from ten to
up and becomes an aerobics instructor (113-21). twenty-four. Persepolis is a denunciation of the Islamic
Republic, but the memoir's presentation of history is
The Exam. She meets her future husband, Reza, a scant: the significance of the title is left unstated, and
painter; they study for and pass the national exam no member of the Islamic regime is mentioned, even
the Ayatollah Khomenei. The author clearly has radical books about political and intellectual than about
leftist political sympathies. She is a thoroughly secular artistic influences. But none of these influences is
feminist, but does allow that some in the regime are explored in any depth; it is the development of the
"true religious" (Persepolis 2, 130, 144). Her author's character that is her true subject. — The
illustrations are often ingenious. Surprisingly in a translators have done an excellent job.]
memoir by an artist, there is quite a bit more in the