• You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil

    Azar Nafisi
  • A novel is not an allegory, I said as the period was about to come to an end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing

    Azar Nafisi
  • Other people's sorrows and joys have a way of reminding us of our own; we partly empathize with them because we ask ourselves: What about me? What does that say about my life, my pains, my anguish?

    Azar Nafisi
  • All violence is based on blindness, on a lack of reflection and empathy

    Azar Nafisi
  • Imagination in these works is equated with empathy; we can't experience all that others have gone through, but we can understand even the most monstrous individuals in works of fiction. A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic—not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so. Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels—the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence

    Azar Nafisi
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