Memoir On Istanbul-Orhan Pamuk`S Meloncholy
Fifteen hundred teachers of literature recently protested about the choice of a set book for Terminale L du bac‘We are teachers of literature,’ they said; ‘is it our business to discuss a work of history?’ As mentioned in De Gaulle’s Mémoires. Life writing is not a literary or historical form but relevant across arts or science field. Life writing has become increasingly popular in academics ranging from the relation of biography to scientific discovery. Life writing encompasses writing about day-to-day events to fictional, it includes lives of people, places, objects, subjects, families, institutions and the list goes on. Life writing includes biography, autobiography, memoir, diaries, journals, anthropological data, oral testimony, eye-witness account to today`s digital blog, email. It has become an integral part of studies like Holocaust, genocide, testimony and confession, apartheid, gender etc.
Research in life writing has been found to facilitate expression of feelings, development of self-control, self-confidence specially in people with low self-esteem. Life writing can also be used in genealogical study in recording one`s life events, also been claimed that autobiographical writing helps in understanding the individual and allows the other person to analyze, interpret in a new and different way. The theme life writing has helped me to understand the writer Orhan Pamuk, Turkish Nobel Laureate in English whom I have chosen to do research for my PhD degree; in a new and unusual way. For this article I have chosen Pamuk`s non-fiction Istanbul: Memories and the city, a memoir which is autobiographical; wherein the writer talks about the cultural changes that transformed Turkey. Pamuk writes in Turkish language, this non-fiction is translated into English by Maureen Freely. Pamuk wrote this book in 2003 when he was falling into depression; in one of the interviews he says “My life, because of so many things, was in a crisis; I don’t want to go into those details: divorce, father dying, professional problems, problems with this, problems with that, everything was bad. I thought if I were to be weak I would have a depression. But every day I would wake up and have a cold shower and sit down and remember and write, always paying attention to the beauty of the book. “This book records Pamuk`s personal life which is hard to see in his writings. I mean in Pamuk`s writings even though in few of his fictions there is an element of autobiographical sketch but in this book we see Pamuk as an individual, than as a writer. The unique characteristic of reading literature from life writing perspective is that one gets to see the other side of a writer. In this memoir Istanbul city becomes a central theme for many of his writings, Pamuk has a typical Pamukian style; where characters are mere props and the plot is the real hero.
The setting in most of his writings is Istanbul not only as a mere city but becomes an integral part and intertwines with the story. He begins writing Istanbul as a memoir, by talking about a particular period in his life incorporating his life events with his favourite city Istanbul; by explaining what was going on in his life at a particular point of time and parallel to how Istanbul has had an impact on his life so as to show that how the city has influenced and becomes an important aspect of his life. He gives an account of his family members specially his mother who changed his life direction. Pamuk began his career as a painter then his mother predicted his future as a painter will lead him either to the bottle or to the asylum. In a parting shot to his mother and to the readers he says “I don’t want to be an artist. . . . I’m going to be a writer. ” This decision literally changed the life of Pamuk forever. For many Turks, `imitation` doesn`t mean anything but for Pamuk it is as an exception everything looked as an European identity `mimicry`. He recalls in his parents` house, the piano which was untouched, is kept for show; the art Nouveau screen; but Pamuk looks for authenticity that’s why along with the photographer Ara Guler, whose images illustrate Istanbul. Istanbul, memoir stops when Pamuk is still young as Turkey moves closer to European union membership. Pamuk`s love for Istanbul is extraordinary and he is exuberant in depicting it in his writings. As a professional painter too, Pamuk`s idea and concept of Istanbul is different as he writes, “there is no Ottoman painting that can easily accommodate our visual tastes,” it is because “we” have been schooled to see things in a different, Western way. He is drawn to the 18th-century painter Antoine-Ignace Melling because Melling “saw the city like an Istanbullu but painted it like a clear eyed Westerner. ” Here the element of dissidence sets in the mind of young Pamuk which in future became an important aspect in his writings. As a researcher I am focusing on the aspect of political dissidence in his selected fictions; in My Name is Red the depiction of the quarrels between young Orhan and Sevkit in the fiction is the portrayal of the actual life of Pamuk and his brother. Also testify the fact that Pamuk`s self-education in the Persian and Islamic origin of Ottoman culture. In another novel The White Castle the plot is that of west and east which come to resemble each other finally changing places, as he has explained in Istanbul book recalling on reading about Flaubert who imaginedwriting on easterner and westerner who come to resemble each other finally changing places. In Snow, his novel the protagonist Ka a secular Turkish who has distaste for religion but suffers from an aching spiritual emptiness, the same way Pamuk feels.
Istanbul`s transformation blends with Pamuk`s intimate recollections of reminiscent past; reflections of his observations on the city as well as his personal life. This book portrays the personal life of Pamuk, his favourate city Istanbul, his society, past and present. The theme melancholy is a common factor that affects both Pamuk and Istanbul in a similar way. In this book he also mentions other writer who spent time in Istanbul and wrote about Istanbul, he was influenced by their depiction of Istanbul and writing style.
Pamuk has chosen to give his life accounts in a spontaneous, free flowing, moves back and forth in memory ranging from childhood to adulthood with ups and downs within the thirty seven chapters of memoir.
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Fifteen hundred teachers of literature recently protested about the choice of a set book for Terminale L du bac‘We are teachers of literature,’ they said; ‘is it our business to […]