Saturday, December 12, 2009

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis

Persepolis was the capital of the Persian Empire. It is believed that Cyrus the Great (600 - 530 BC) chose the site but it was Darius (530 - 486 BC) who built the great palaces.

It is also the name of an autobiographical comic book written by Marjane Satrapi.

The story was told from the point of view of a child born into a family of professionals in Iran. She grew up in Tehran through the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution, and the War with Iraq.

She used to attend a French school where boys and girls play together. In 1979, the Shah was overthrown. In the following year, girls had to start to wear the veil in school.

Then Iraq invaded Iran, and the war started. Iraq bombed Tehran. Iran bombed Baghdad. Iraq bombed the Iranian refinery in Abadan, and all the border towns. Refugees fleed to Tehran. Both sides suffered terrible losses.

Satrapi was having trouble in school. So she was sent off to attend school in Austria. There she continued to grow up, all the time struggling with her own identify, as a conservative Iranian in an open, alien Western culture.

After four years, she returned to Iran, and had to adapt to the fundamentalist culture again. There she attended university, got married, and continued to try to maintain her independent spirit. A few years later she got divorced and moved to France.

Her story helps to paint a more human picture of life in Iran. Even though it is a viewpoint from the minority, Westernized elite.

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