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My Name is Red (1998)

by Orhan Pamuk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,9841461,177 (3.76)1 / 379
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.
Recently added byamacovei, RuiFlores, private library, paawcik, NinjaMuse, AMGIV, MariaElsa, sprotze, Eggpants
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English (120)  French (8)  Italian (7)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Indonesian (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Whilst I attempt to get my own thoughts in order, for those curious about this book, I strongly recommend reading both Nandakishore's review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/225675190?book_show_action=false&from_... and Whitaker's here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/66808624?book_show_action=false&from_r...

The fact that the reviews are so very different in content, attitude, the lot surely has something to do with the book.

More later.

And, ahem...almost three years later:

But I simply couldn’t think of anything good to say. I’ve discovered, however, that I have company, I’m not the only person in the world who has an aversion for this book. Discovering that has given me the strength to move on without feeling like it must be my fault or that I should be feeling guilty. As much as I loved Museum of Innocence I dislike this.

There, I’ve said it. And do go to the reviews referenced above to read erudite discussions of this book. But for me, I've taken off a star and I do still wonder if that is kind. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Whilst I attempt to get my own thoughts in order, for those curious about this book, I strongly recommend reading both Nandakishore's review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/225675190?book_show_action=false&from_... and Whitaker's here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/66808624?book_show_action=false&from_r...

The fact that the reviews are so very different in content, attitude, the lot surely has something to do with the book.

More later.

And, ahem...almost three years later:

But I simply couldn’t think of anything good to say. I’ve discovered, however, that I have company, I’m not the only person in the world who has an aversion for this book. Discovering that has given me the strength to move on without feeling like it must be my fault or that I should be feeling guilty. As much as I loved Museum of Innocence I dislike this.

There, I’ve said it. And do go to the reviews referenced above to read erudite discussions of this book. But for me, I've taken off a star and I do still wonder if that is kind. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
The basic plot synopsis is this: we are in Istanbul in the 16th century when the Sultan employs multiple artists to spend their lives toiling on beautiful and intricate illustrations in books, some until they literally go blind. One of the senior illustrators is murdered near the start, and we must spend the whole novel trying to find out who it was. The suspense is compounded by the shift to a different narrator in every chapter, and I can't imagine how challenging it was to write this way. I don't remember reading anything quite this creative before or since. ( )
  jonerthon | Jun 5, 2020 |
I've had this novel on my shelves for some time, acquired more because I wanted to read something by this Nobel laureate than knowing the story itself.

The basic premise is that a man named Black returns to Istanbul from self-imposed exile. He had left the home of his uncle, Enishte, when his uncle refused to permit Black to marry his daughter, Shekure. Upon return Black learns that his Enishte has been commissioned by the Sultan to create an illustrated book glorifying the empire. The work is highly controversial, because the Sultan wishes the book to be illustrated in the European style. Enishte has hired other local miniaturists to help, but keeps each one's work secret from the others. Now one of them has been murdered, and Enishte wishes Black to discover who the murderer is.

Aside from the murder mystery, the book is about the conflict in the sixteenth-century between Eastern and Western art. As depicted in the book, an Eastern artist's prestige is based on how well he can mimic a historical style. Individual style is discouraged and signing a work is practically sacrilegious. New works are created by putting different elements together, each element a replica of the ideal form first iconized generations ago. Thus a horse in one painting will look identical to a horse in another painting. Even people are drawn as ideals, not as reflections of reality. In the West, however, and particularly Italy, painting is highly individualized, and portraits are very popular. In addition, Western art uses perspective, whereas Eastern art is still using a horizontal line. Other differences, such as the placement of a person in the center of the canvas, is seen not just as a stylistic choice, but as a religious one. Enishte, who visited Italy as an envoy, is eager to fulfill the Sultan's desire for a Western-style chronicle, whereas the local leader of the miniaturists sees such a commission as dangerous and possibly an affront to Islam.

Another interesting aspect of the novel is that each chapter is told from the first-person point of view of a different character, including the subjects of paintings, such as a tree or a dog, and Death itself. The first chapter, for instance, is entitled, "I am a Corpse." This technique heightens the tension of the search for the murderer, who narrates his own chapters. It also allows for the author to play with who has a voice and contrast their internal dialogue with their outward actions.

Although not a mystery reader, I found this one to be highly literary, historically interesting, and clever. In addition it was fun, and I read it quite quickly. Recommended for those who like art history or The Name of the Rose. ( )
  labfs39 | Oct 28, 2019 |
More than you probably ever wanted to know about Ottoman miniaturists, their lives, loves, rivalries, angst. Being a maker of images in a culture that forbids images is a matter of arrogance and anguish and from the conflict arise the murder of the master gilder Elegant, whose shade narrates the first chapters. Subsequent chapters rotate through other characters and drawings, including the murderer who also has entries as one of the group of miniaturists working on a secret book for the Sultan.
Very much individuals the men, women, children, and figures who narrate have concerns to which we can relate and values that are alien. ( )
  quondame | Oct 4, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (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 (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orhan Pamukprimary authorall editionscalculated
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
Самуилова, РозияTranslatorsecondary 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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