Graphic memories: dialogues with self and other in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Persepolis 2
Born a decade prior to the Islamic Revolution, Marjane Satrapi grew up in the midst of turmoil. Her critically acclaimed graphic memoir Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, which spans the years immediately before and after the Revolution, and its sequel, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, have found an abundant readership around the world. As Satrapi indicates in her introduction to the first volume, in creating this narrative of her life, she hoped to provide non-Iranians, particularly those in the West, with a more accurate perspective on Iran. Implicit in this aim is a distinction between the Iranian Self and the Western Other, with the latter constituting Satrapi’s major implied audience. While the didactic aspects of the two Persepolis volumes cannot be denied, another, perhaps less appreciated, aspect of Satrapi’s work resides in its critical dialogue with Iranian culture. Satrapi’s assertion at the end of her introduction to Persepolis—“One can forgive but one should never forget”—applies as much to Iranians as to Western readers and reflects her attention to the Self as the other important implied audience for the text. Indeed, as Amy Malek notes, many Iranian readers have praised Satrapi’s work “for preserving the communal memory of a generation." In narrating her own memories, Satrapi critically intervenes in the culture and politics of censorship and compulsory veiling under the post-revolutionary Islamic regime and touches upon the important psychological consequences of such tactics of repression.
Abedinifard, Mostafa. "Graphic Memories: Dialogues with Self and Other in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Persepolis 2." Familiar and Foreign: Identity in Iranian Film and Literature, edited by Manijeh Mannani and Veronica Thompson, AU Press, 2015, pp. 83-109.
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