Sunday, August 25, 2013

Three of Iran's supreme leader's favorite novels

Ali Khamenei is Iran’s Supreme Leader.

The Iranian journalist and writer Akbar Ganji has an essay in the current Foreign Affairs (Sept/Oct 2013),  "Who Is Ali Khamenei?".

"As a young man, Khamenei loved novels," Ganji writes. "He read such Iranian writers as Muhammad Ali Jamalzadah, Sadeq Chubak, and Sadeq Hedayat but came to feel that they paled before classic Western writers from France, Russia, and the United Kingdom."

One of Khamenei's favorite Western novels according to Ganji:
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables

"In my opinion, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is the best novel that has been written in history. I have not read all the novels written throughout history, no doubt, but I have read many that relate to the events of various centuries.... [But] Les Misérables is a miracle in the world of novel writing.... I have said over and over again, go read Les Misérables once. This Les Misérables is a book of sociology, a book of history, a book of criticism, a divine book, a book of love and feeling."
--Khamenei, to some officials of Iran’s state-run television network in 2004
Learn about two more of Khamenei's favorite Western novels.

Read Akbar Ganji's essay, "Who Is Ali Khamenei?" at Foreign Affairs and view Fareed Zakaria's commentary on the subject at CNN's Global Public Square website. Zakaria notes:
The books Khamenei likes are all critiques of Western society, for the way it has treated the poor or African Americans or native Americans. He does not, incidentally, seem to recognize the strength of a culture that criticizes itself – all these critiques of the West are by Westerners, who often gain great fame for these efforts.
--Marshal Zeringue