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Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan…

Istanbul: Memories and the City (2003)

by Orhan Pamuk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (40)  German (5)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (2)  Swedish (2)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (54)
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Pamuk tells us about his memories of the Istanbul of his youth and of growing up in this city that formed him and that is now lost. He describes watching in the 50s and 60s with friends the fires of the ancient wooden houses burning down with a „pleasurable spiritual ache“ that had its root, he says, in the guilt and loss they felt at the destruction of the great Ottoman culture „we were unprepared to inherit in our frenzy to turn Istanbul into a pale, poor, second-class imitation of a Western city.“ He prefaces the book with a quote by Ahmet Rasim: ‘The beauty of a landscape resides in its melancholy’. This immediately reveals the ambiguity of this melancholy for which the Turkish word is hüzün and which is neither as Pamuk explains a solitary melancholy nor the same as tristesse but a shared melancholy a melancholy peculiar to the Istanbul of his youth (may one still encounter it today in neglected side-streets?), the hüzün „we absorb with pride and share as a community.“ Pamuk says - rightly I think - that the landscape painters of the Romantic in particular wanted to awake in the viewer the same feelings that the landscape evoked in the artist. So looking at Istanbul’s streets in the winter evening light, the little shops, the ferries belching their smoke, the ruins, the old falling-down mansions, … evokes „the hüzün in which we see ourselves reflected, the hüzün we absorb with pride and share as a community.“ But then again, as he says, describing the city’s essence says more about „our own states of mind: The city has no centre other than ourselves.“ Pamuk would not have become the writer he is had he grown up in any other place. (II-18) ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Feb 11, 2018 |
editorial sudamericana
  Enriquep.ab | Dec 16, 2017 |
...come è strano e difficile per me Pamuk. Mi piace e non mi piace. Anche questo libro - bellissimo - non mi ha del tutto soddisfatto. C'è un distacco nella passione, una freddezza nell'amore che faccio fatica a superare mentre lo leggo. Poi, quando chiudo il libro e le parole decantano, la bellezza malinconica e la verità delle vite (tutte) abbarbicate alle radici - casuali ma tenaci - scorrono libere
[audiolibro] ( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
This is an interesting read! When I studied Hagia Sophia in school, its beauty imprinted my heart! Turkey has always been a mystical land of the Great Eastern Culture and symbolized to me Constantinople's conquests and his architectural vision that made Istanbul one of the best cities during the Roman Empire.
The cover art is sheer beauty! The warm, fuzzy yellow catches the eye first and immediately touches the heart. This is my first Orhan Pamuk book and I am in total awe of this wonderful writer. His melancholic verses on his city and childhood, dreams and magic, walks through the city made me peep into my childhood memories and all those fascinating walks through the by-lanes of Mumbai. Every word of his resonated with my memories of Mumbai- the city I love so much. Perhaps, sometimes its difficult to understand how people fall in love with cultures or cities or Urban Spaces(such an architectural term I use here!), however, people with passion for art and history and especially, ones who dream endlessly easily move through stone-walls and crumbling facades to glass cubes of uncomfortable realities!
Every moment I read through the writer's Bosphorus walks, those historical references drove me into a parallel world of my own, making me travel that era! When he writes about the river's silent witness to centuries of change, it takes me back to Mumbai's history. How mesmerising it is that another city's history and culture ignited awe and pride in my heart!
Somewhere he writes- If the city speaks of defeat, destruction, deprivation, melancholy and poverty, the Bosphorus sings of life, pleasure and happiness. Istanbul draws its strength from the Bosphorus.
When I read his poetic verses on the Bosphorus, I couldn't help but imagine the Ganges or Yamuna and how those ancient cities that existed by these rivers now just cease to invoke those memories! In a way, these cities have failed the rivers and the great civilizations they carried within themselves!
Think of people walking by everyday, talking, celebrating life by the rivers where now the only remnants are the ruins, those crumbling walls, forgotten history, moss and overgrown grass! Rome still has the colosseum and even Istanbul has the Hagia Sophia, but what does my city preserve? Where is that city from my dreams? The more I read, the harder it is to search! ( )
  Sharayu_Gangurde | Jan 19, 2017 |
Mr. Pamuk is far more interested in Istanbul, and in his own life, than I am. Yet the excellent writing held me and kept me turning the pages. It's sentimental mood appeal to me. He tells the story of his childhood, mingled with the story of Istanbul, a city he clearly loves. He gives us a insider view of this most intriguing city, which I visited a few years ago. And the many photographs greatly enhance the book and bring a concreteness to the story. I wish there'd also been a map!

My main problem with this book can be summed up by the author's assertion on Page 295 that “What is important for a memoirist is not the factual accuracy of the account, but its symmetry.” Was he really so aware as a child as he paints himself to be?

The book is dated; the picture it paints of Turkey isn't the Turkey of today. But it's still worth the read for its portrayal of a city in transition, straddling east and west as (perhaps) only Istanbul can. ( )
  LynnB | Oct 4, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pamuk, Orhanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Demirel, SavasTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freely, MaureenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijden, Hanneke van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meier, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miró, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piqué, EmmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polat, AnnaTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The beauty of a landscape resides in its sadness.

Ahmet Rasim
To my father, Gündüz Pamuk (1925-2002)
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From a very young age, I suspected there was more to my world than I could see: Somewhere in the streets of Istanbul, in a house resembling ours, there lived another Orhan so much like me that he could pass for my twin, even my double.
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A portrait, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world's great cities, by its foremost man of letters. Blending reminiscence with history; family photographs with portraits of poets and pashas; art criticism, metaphysical musing, and, now and again, a fanciful tale, Pamuk invents an ingenious form to evoke his lifelong home, the city that forged his imagination. He begins with his childhood, his first intimations of the melancholy awareness of living in the seat of ruined imperial glories, in a country trying to become "modern" at the crossroads of East and West. Against a background of shattered monuments, neglected villas, ghostly backstreets, and, above all, the fabled waters of the Bosphorus, he charts the evolution of a rich imaginative life, which furnished a daydreaming boy refuge from family discord and inner turmoil, and which would continue to serve the famous writer he was to become. --From publisher description.… (more)

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