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Topic: Snow/Orhan Pamuk

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Subject: Snow/Orhan Pamuk
Date Posted: 2/17/2011 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,465
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As the Snow of '11 began, I found this book I got recently on PBS. One weird book, fo sho. Talk to me, fellow booklovers. What do you think of this book and this author. What is this book about?

Date Posted: 2/19/2011 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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John W.,  I share some of your confusion, too.   But, a couple of surmises about the book . . . . Turkey must be a strange kind of place, situated exactly between Europe and Asia, so to speak.   Using a language that is written in the Roman alphabet, not the Arabic, because of a decree by the Pasha  back in the 20s.  And influenced by Ataturk, who was kind of a 'modernizer'.  Anyhow, didn't you get the feeling that the main male character was rather a 'split personality', occupying some kind of psychological middle ground between Europe and Old Turkey who found himself unable to fit in easily in either place?  I got a feeling that he felt the pull of "the old ways" (Traditions) at the the same time that he admired some of the things about Europe, where he made his erstwhile home.   What an awkward position he had been placed in, to be some kind of "go-between" between the two very different cultures, and to feel himself unwilling to do or say anything critical of either one?

P.S.   Isn't the use of the novel form of literature a rather recent development with Middle Easter authors (except for Mahfouz)?   Did you read Pamuk's first novel, My Name Is Red?  It was a period piece, set in the century during which Persian painters were still supported by royal patrons, who employed them as illustrators of the lavish books (single, exclusive copies, of course) the princes had made for vanity's sake.   The contrast here was between those Persian highly stylized miniatures and the marvelous portraiture being done by Italian artists of the same era.  (Pamuk speculates about the use by the Italian artisits of the "pin-hole camera", as an aid in the creation of a life-like portrait.)  (Again, an instance of a static culture vs. a dynamic one.)



Last Edited on: 2/19/11 3:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/19/2011 5:24 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,465
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I am, at least so far, viewing the book through a prism of serious literature. My protgonist, as it were, is the man Ka, if man he is. I find nothing admirable or even slightly likeable about him. In fact, I find nothing likeable or admirable about a single one of the major characters. Aristotle thought that an author cannot construct a work of significance if a thoroughly despicable protagonist comes to a bad end. I think I am inclined to agree.