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The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
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The Museum of Innocence (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Orhan Pamuk, Maureen Freely (Translator)

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Title:The Museum of Innocence
Authors:Orhan Pamuk
Other authors:Maureen Freely (Translator)
Info:Knopf (2009), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 535 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk (2008)

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English (30)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Although I have been a big fan of Pamuk's since I acquired The New Life in an English Department holiday book exchange back in 1997, I slogged through his latest novel. It is long (over 500 pages) and it feels excruciatingly, even tediously, long. However, even though I didn't much enjoy reading this novel, I know I will think about it more than a lot of books I've read. The Museum of Innocence is the very detailed account of a man named Kemal's (wealthy scion of the Istanbul haute-bourgeoisie) obsessive love for his much younger, distant cousin Fusun. That's the overt story. The novel brings to my mind, for very different reasons Nabokov's Lolita, Carsen Mcculler's Ballad of the Sad Cafe and the novels of Milan Kundera. Back when I read Nabokov's Lolita, I wasn't able to overcome my disgust and anger over HH's rape of Lolita the child, no matter how cognizant I was of the universally-proclaimed literary merit of the work and the fact that the novel is really about language and many things other than its ostensible story. In a similar, although less extreme, fashion, Pamuk's novel is about many things other than its "story" of one man's oppressive devotion to his love object. These other subjects include tradition & modernity with their uneasy commingling in contemporary Turkey; time, timelessness & nostalgia; historical event versus the fluidity of experience (emotional, psychological, sensual); & time as space (home, country, world, museum) & vice versa. Pamuk writes "Real museums are places where Time is transformed into Space." As in many of Pamuk's novels, current political, economic & social events run in the background & occasionally burst into the foreground of the "love" story: a news reel between programs on the TV, the curfews that interrupt Kemal's evenings with Fusun & her parents, the military coup that causes Kemal and his chauffeur to be stopped and questioned regarding a quince grater (potential weapon?) that Kemal has pilfered from Fusun's home to add to his collection of objects related to & touched by his beloved. More than anything, Pamuk, as in his memoir Istanbul, writes about a place and that place is Turkey and, even more specifically, Istanbul & its environs (the Bosphorus is central). The loved one is both the city and the woman; Kemal's obsession and anguish is that of a man who cherishes the old yalis, the popular neighborhoods and the trashy censored films churned out by the Turkish film industry while he remains tied to the the upper middle-class, Western-educated social & economic elite with their posh parties at the Hilton Hotel and all-night outings to fashionable bars, nightclubs & restaurants. Everyone (at least all the men) of every social class drinks glass after glass of the national liquor, raki, even though the rich switch to black market whiskey and champagne for their tony affairs. As several other reviewers have mentioned, the novel is most readable in its final 100 pages, when events speed up and reach their mostly inevitable conclusion. Star rating: somewhere between "OK" and "I liked it."
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  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
In places the Pamuk's writing is excellent; you get a real sense of the obsessive and emotional lead character, Kemal, and his frustrated love for Fusun. But, paradoxically, it is the efforts the author takes to convey that obsession that let this novel down. Details of Kemal's bizarre behaviour drag on for page after page, chapter after chapter; and though it is well observed, it is dull. Ultimately, the plot is simply not interesting enough for this novel to warrant the higher rating the writing deserves. ( )
  YossarianXeno | Mar 20, 2014 |
A book which speaks of the importance of objects in our lives. It is as if each object has its own life or that it drains the very life of people around them and becomes a part of them. This is why museums amaze us, for they bring to our days the immortality of their long gone owners.

Museum guide interventions during the story are quite sudden and strange but maintain an informative and entertaining aspect. ( )
  animyrch | Dec 8, 2013 |
Probabil cea mai lungă povestire a unui stalker din istoria literaturii. O obsesie (iubire?) din Istanbulul anilor 70-80. Mi-a plăcut mult să citesc un roman scris de Orhan Pamuk, laureatul Nobel pentru literatură în 2006. ( )
  mariusgm | Aug 25, 2013 |
since I am about to travel to Istanbul, I wanted to really like this book and learn about the culture, but I only found an obsessed man who is in love with his distant cousins and waits 8 years until he can be together with her (again). The start was still very interesting to me but when his waiting started, I caught myself flipping 50 pages ahead not missing the beat of the story, so I actually skipped now in 100 page rhythm and speed read through the rest. for sure I know I won't visit the museum in Istanbul. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Aug 19, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Orhan Pamuk favors short chapters that lead the reader from one entry to the next, turning back to correct or amend. He is directorial in “The Museum of Innocence,” his enchanting new novel of first love painfully sustained over a lifetime.
 
"The Museum of Innocence" deeply and compellingly explores the interplay between erotic obsession and sentimentality -- and never once slips into the sentimental. There is a master at work in this book.
 
"The Museum of Innocence" is a deeply human and humane story. Masterfully translated, spellbindingly told, it is resounding confirmation that Orhan Pamuk is one of the great novelists of his generation. With this book, he literally puts love into our hands.
 
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Epigraph
These were innocent people, so innocent that they thought poverty a crime that wealth would allow them to forget. - from the notebooks of Celâl Salik
If a man could pass thro' Paradise in a Dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his Soul had really been there, and found that flower in his hand when he awoke - Aye? and what then? - from the notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
First I surveyed the little trinkets on the table, her lotions and her perfumes. I picked them up and examined them one by one. I turned her little watch over in my hand. Then I looked at her wardrobe. All those dresses and accessories piled one on top of the other. These things that every woman used to complete herself - they induced in me a painful and desperate loneliness; I felt myself hers, I longed to be hers. - from the notebooks of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
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Va ser el moment més feliç de la meva vida, i jo ni tan sols ho sabia. Però si ho hagués sabut, hauria anat tot d'una altra manera i hauria conservat la meva felicitat? Sí, perquè si m'hagués adonat que mai més no tornaria a ser tan feliç, no hauria deixat marxar aquesta felicitat!
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It was the happiest moment of my life , though I didn’t know it. Had I known , had I cherished this gift , would everything have turned out differently ? Yes, if I had recognized this instant of perfect happiness, I would have held it fast and never let it slip away.
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It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal, scion of one of the city's wealthiest families, is about to become engaged to Sibel, daughter of another prominent family, when he encounters Fusun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation. Thus begins an obsessive but tragic love affair that will transform itself into a compulsive collection of objects--a museum of one man's broken heart--that chronicle Kemal's lovelorn progress and his afflicted heart's reactions.… (more)

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