Friday 25 October 2013

Book Review: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

The Museum of Innocence is the first novel by Orhan Pamuk after winning the Noble prize. Like his previous works, Pamuk again presented the city of Istanbul as a central and important character of the story. Like many other great novelists, Pamuk stick around his home town in almost all of his works. The author of Ulysses, James Joyce, never came out of his home city, Dublin. Naguib Mahfouz never stepped out of, not only Cairo but some of its specific streets and boulevards. Charles Dickens always wrote about London and Victor Hugo about Paris. Leo Tolstoy’s favourite city was Moscow, while Fyodor Dostoyevsky always furnished his novels in St. Petersburg.
This novel is a proof that Orhan Pamuk is capable enough of writing great stories. He focused more on language and often repeated himself. The central idea is not hidden or dubious; it is just “true love”. It is not possible for everyone to write a love story with such close observations as if it is a personal memoir.
The story opens as the protagonist describes the happiest day of his life, which he even did not know at that moment. It is the spring of 1975, in Istanbul. Kemal, from an elite class business family is going to marry Sibel, also from a prominent family of the country. But then Kemal is fascinated by the beauty of Fusun, a shop girl and a distant relation. He is so much engrossed in the love for Fusun that they violate the code of virginity. This creates a gap between Kemal and the Westernized Istanbul bourgeoisie society. Kemal immersed in her love, being around her but even without touching her lived the next eight years with patience, collecting objects that are in any way related to his beloved. These chronicle objects included cigarette butts that had touched Fusun lips and were stubbed in different styles, earrings that were once on her ears, theatre tickets and restaurant menus, where she had accompanied him and thousands of such small and unimportant objects but life giving things for him. Thus visiting hundreds of museums around the world, he created his own through his collection “The Museum of Innocence”.
This story can only reach the hearts, who have truly fallen for others, who have given themselves to others and who have sacrificed everything for their beloved. I bet that when reading it, every lover will think at least for once, that he or she should have also collected such objects. He should have also created a museum for himself. Although the whole story is written in first person perspective but last chapter is very different and interesting when the main character introduces the reader with the author who is writing the book for him.
Pamuk was influenced by the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan, Italy and visited three times, while writing the book.
Another very astounding thing is that Pamuk has, in actual, established "Museum of Innocence", based on the museum described in the book. It is exactly located, where it is labelled in the novel that is Çukurcuma neighbourhood of Beyoğlu, Istanbul. It displays a collection, indicative of everyday life and culture of Istanbul during the period of 1975 to 1984, in which the novel is set.
Author Orhan Pamuk in his "The Museum of Innocence"

Good news for the readers is that the museum allows free entry to those who bring a copy of the book. A ticket placed in the 83rd chapter of the book will be stamped before escorting the reader in.

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