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My Name Is Red (Everyman's Library…
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My Name Is Red (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) (original 1998; edition 2010)

by Orhan Pamuk, Orhan Pamuk (Introduction), Erdag M. Goknar (Translator)

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4,6561191,019 (3.77)1 / 289
Member:gossypia
Title:My Name Is Red (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics)
Authors:Orhan Pamuk
Other authors:Orhan Pamuk (Introduction), Erdag M. Goknar (Translator)
Info:Everyman's Library (2010), Edition: Reprint, Hardcover, 536 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Turklit

Work details

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (1998)

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English (98)  French (7)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Indonesian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/3525714/

I started out just tearing through this and really enjoying it but about one third of the way through, when Shekure and Black got married, I lost it. It became a major struggle to get through. The constant shifting of point of view was interesting but sometimes distracting. The ongoing discussion of art/painting/illustrating in Islam and the famous pictures and artists became very repetitive and master Osman in the Treasury should have been a highlight but I just kept turning the pages to get through. I found the sexual descriptions very out of character with the rest of the book as well. I know that Pamuk is under arrest for discussing the Armenian genocide and I respect his intellect but not so much this particular novel.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Fascinating look at a different culture--not just of Islam, but of absolute monarchy, and a view of the role of art that is completely at variance with modern western standards. Also a mystery of sorts.
  ritaer | Jun 28, 2014 |
I feel that Chapter I , Satan would be thee chapter which summarizes the entire book. Satan beautifully unfolds the layers of his perception towards the narcissistic human being. ( )
  inuk | Jun 15, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.

***

Will the real murdering miniaturist please stand up?

A surprise gift from my bookish little buddy last Christmas, My Name Is Red took me by surprise as much as it did when it landed on my hands. I had no idea then what it’s about (of course; you should know by now that I immediately buy and wish for books that have the Nobel badge on them), so it was a real thrill to read a beautifully rendered mesh of history, art, philosophy, romance, suspense, and mystery. Jam-packed, right?

To push it a little to the edge, each chapter is written in the perspective of the character or object dedicated to it. The first chapter, “I Am a Corpse”, is the voice of the recently disembodied spirit of a miniaturist talking about his manner of death. He slyly withholds the identity of his murderer, which will provide the reader with much guessing as the suspects Butterfly, Olive, and Stork speak their parts.

And who is in charge of solving this murder mystery? He is called Black, which at first I found funny because of the novel’s title. But yes, I hear you: who is Red?

I hear the question upon your lips: What is it to be a color?

Color is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness. Because I’ve listened to souls whispering–like the susurrus of the wind–from book to book and object to object for tens of thousands of years, allow me to say that my touch resembles the touch of angels. Part of me, the serious half, calls out to your vision while the mirthful half soars through the air with your glances.

I’m so fortunate to be red! I’m fiery. I’m strong. I know men take notice of me and that I cannot be resisted.


Red is that: a color. Other nonhuman narrators that speak here are dogs, trees, gold coins, and horses. Death and Satan are also given their own parts, so it’s not too hard to believe for the color red to speak. Besides, the novel is largely about art; artistic theories and techniques are discussed here and there, so why not let Red talk?

Elegant (the murdered), Butterfly, Olive, and Stork are a group of 16th century artists who are commissioned by the sultan to secretly work on Westernized paintings that are deemed blasphemous by the Islams. The time that they live in is that period when art was used merely to support any text that it accompanies. If the text says that two lovers meet by the lake, no dogs or any inconsequential details should be drawn. Art cannot be done for itself alone because it is seen by the fundamentalist as a glorification of objects, therefore a spit in the face of the Creator, therefore a form of blasphemy.

The murder of Elegant is a metaphor for the murdering of the old traditions to usher in the new Western customs that started to dominate Europe. The Turkish setting is perfect for this because it is at the point where East meets West, so the clash of two cultures is more obvious and imminent than somewhere else.

From the novel’s trunk branches ideas upon ideas that can fascinate the not too artsy person like me. The question of imprinting a signature, the persistence of paintings over time, the mastery that leads to blindness, and other topics that deal with art, life, death, love, and religion are presented in every chapter, and these can be either integrated in the novel as plot-builders or philosophical lectures.

Sometimes the reader might feel that he’s already reading nonfiction, but the shift is too subtle to be detected. The philosophical musings is one of the novel’s strengths, so one doesn’t really mind. Coupled with the murder mystery, the novel is made more riveting.

We are also given a treat with early Persian literature, and an offshoot would be the tragedy of Husrev and Shirin. I bet that every reader of this novel would be forced to run a Google search of their paintings to satisfy the curiosity roused from reading. The literary Husrev and Shirin parallels, albeit not directly, our main characters Black and his wife, Shekure.

So yes, as I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s a treat for any type of reader out there. And the truth is, I find it hard to come up with something solid and coherent about this. It’s a real blow in the head. You start this novel without a lot of expectations and then you find yourself with a blow in the head, spinning out of control and little dazed, perhaps.

I will no longer detain you with this crazy attempt to capture what I feel for the book. I have so many formless thoughts on it, and before I end up with an extended mashing of praises for the novel’s brilliant handling of a wide array of subjects, I’d like to announce that this wouldn’t be my last Pamuk read. ( )
1 vote angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
This is a whodunit of the first order. It's also complex with 12 different first-person narrators, each adding their voice to the story unfolding before us. There are many themes to be explored, other than the murder of two miniaturists working on a secret book for the Sultan.

My Name is Red begins with a chapter titled, "I am a Corpse," in which the first murder victim relates how he came to arrive at this story state of affairs.

Eventually, we meet Black, nephew to the miniaturist who is organizing this secret book, and who is also in love with the miniaturist's daughter, who has two children by a husband who went off to war in the Ottoman Empire four years previously. See? Complicated.

My Name is Red is set in Istanbul during the turmoil of the late 16th century in the Ottoman Empire, when Sultans and shiekhs and imams battled each other, and the infidels of Western Europe, for control of the Empire and the Muslim soul.

Caught in this turmoil is the idea of art in the Islamic world, where everything is drawn without perspective, because only Allah sees from above and sees how things truly are. For an artist to do otherwise is to invite idolatry and worship of figures into his world, which is against the Koran. But creeping slowly into the art world is the Venetian way, in which paintings have perspective and represent the world in a more realistic way. East vs. West embodies the conflict which leads to murder and cries of heresy.

Black must sort his way through all of this, knowing but not quite understanding that everyone, including his soon-to-be wife, has their own agenda and will obfuscate the truth for their own expediency.

My Name is Red is a book which demands time, and multiple readings. ( )
2 vote AuntieClio | May 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
The new one, ''My Name Is Red,'' is by far the grandest and most astonishing contest in Pamuk's internal East-West war. Translated with fluid grace by Erdag M. Goknor, the novel is set in the late 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Murat III, a patron of the miniaturists whose art had come over from Persia in the course of the previous hundred years. It was a time when the Ottomans' confidence in unstoppable empire had begun to be shaken by the power of the West -- their defeat at Lepanto had taken place only a few years earlier -- as well as by its cultural vitality and seductiveness.
 

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orhan Pamukprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bertolini, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campin, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorleijn, MargreetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Göknar, ErdağTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gezgin, ŞemsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijden, Hanneke van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iren, IngridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kojo, TuulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shen, ZhixingTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wondergem, MijkeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You slew a man then fell out with another concerning him. (Koran, "The Cow," 72)

The blind and the seeing are not equal. (Koran, "The Creator," 19)

To God belongs the East and the West. (Koran, "The Cow," 115)
Dedication
For Rüya
First words
I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well.
Quotations
Over long years, as we gaze at book after book and illustration after illustration, we come to learn the following: A great painter does not content himself by affecting us with his masterpieces; ultimately, he succeeds in changing the landscape of our minds. Once a miniaturist's artistry enters our souls this way, it becomes the criterion for the beauty of our world.
Books, which we mistake for consolation, only add depth to our sorrow.
Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.
Colour is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness.
An artist's skill depends on carefully attending to the beauty of the present moment, taking everything down to the minutest detail seriously while, at the same time, stepping back from the world, which takes itself too seriously, and as if looking into a mirror, allowing for the distance and eloquence of a jest.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375706852, Paperback)

At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.

Translated from the Turkish by Erda M Göknar

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:44 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A furor erupts in sixteenth-century Istanbul when the Sultan commissions the European-style illumination of a great book, and the situation worsens when one of the miniaturists vanishes mysteriously.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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