Windows into orhan Pamuk's Hüzün

Aesthetic deferral

"Overtaxing yourself with powerful ideas is practically a Turkish passion. For the past 200 years this nation has rehearsed the transition from one civilization to another, and that is a tormenting experience, I can tell you. Snow is a book about the difficulty of living with these big, abstract ideas, of surviving them and finding happiness. You know, I've had it up to here with big ideas. I've been overexposed to them in my hyper-politicized country. Literature is my reaction to this, an attempt to turn the tables, to contribute a certain sense of humor, a certain detachment. I want to tell the reader: don't take these things so damn seriously. Isn't life wonderful? Pay attention to life's details! The important thing in life is happiness and the possibility of surviving in this intolerant society we've created. Now I've started preaching…(laughter)"
--Interview with Jörg Lau, 2005

Dopplegängers and other selves

"There's this other per­son who is always in a more genuine, more heartfelt, more hard-core place than you," Pamuk explains. "Even his failures are more authentic. You love him and you also want to kill him. These are my essential subjects: rivalry, jealousy, problems of domination and influence, revenge. Crucial but unworthy issues that corns from growing up in an exclusively competitive childhood with a brother only 18 months older than I, and also of living on the margins of Europe. Turning around this feeling of off-centeredness. Saying, no, I am at the center. My contribution to the doppelgänger problem was to give it an East-West tilt."
--Interview with Fernanda Eberstadt

Mirrors of shifting identity

"My subject, generally speaking, is the metaphysics of change, and human reactions to what we used to have as our identity, when the whole thing is changed. It 'doesn't' matter whether it's east or west, or traditional or modern; you have a tradition and, for this or that reason, it's changed. I care about that. I care about what is lost."
--Interview with Arminta Wallace, The Irish Times

"East" (Past) vs. "West" (Present)

"This meet of East and West and clash of civilizations, this is unfortunately one of the most dangerous and horrific ideas that have been produced in the last twenty years, and is now serving for... This fanciful idea is now unfortunately getting to be real, and this theory is serving the clash of civilizations and the deaths of so many people.. . .Culture is mix. Culture means a mix of things from other sources. And my town, Istanbul, was this kind of mix. Istanbul, in fact, and my work, is a testimony to the fact that East and West combine cultural gracefully, or sometimes in an anarchic way, came together, and that is what we should search for. This is getting to be a good interview by the way."
--Interview with Adam Smith, 12 October 2006

The Missing Text

"Of course it [The New Life] alludes to the Third World way of reading a book. The idea that you can read something and it will give you the secret of the universe."
--Interview with Joan Smith, The Financial Times

Discussion Question: Is Pamuk a post-modern writer?




romanticism/ symbolism surrealism/ dadaism
form/ function anti-form/ disjunction
purpose play
design chance
hierarchy anarchy
mastery/ logos exhaustion/ silence
art object/ finished process/ happening
creation deconstruction
presence absence
centering dispersal
root/depth surface/ rhizome
interpretation (mis)reading
grand narrative/universal local history only
erotic androgynous
origin and cause indeterminacy

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding