Priyadarshini Sur's Reviews > The Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
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May 28, 12

Read in May, 2012

Orhan Pamuk’s novel ‘The Museum Of Innocence ‘Or ‘Masumiyet Muzesi’arouses the reader’s desire to visit the city of Istanbul as well as the museum ,Pamuk created inspired by the novel. The novel is not only the story of star-crossed lovers but also an ode to Pamuk’s love for Istanbul.
The novel chronicles the story of an upper class playboy Kemal who falls desperately in love with his distant cousin Fusun,a shop girl.Marriage is out of question as the social gap is too wide. And Fusun has been tainted in that she has surrendered her virginity to Kemal knowing fully well he will never marry her.In the book Pamuk talks about the attitude of people of Istanbul towards women in 1970’s & 80’s,which he describes as an unpalatable truth in Ch- 15 . “One thousand nine hundred and seventy-five solar years after the birth of Christ, in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the western and southern shores of the Mediterranean, as in Istanbul, the city that was the capital of this region, virginity was still regarded as a treasure that young girls should protect until the day they married. Following the drive to Westernize and modernize, and (even more significantly) the haste to urbanize, it became common practice for girls to defer marriage until they were older, and the practical value of this treasure began to decline in certain parts of Istanbul. Those in favor of Westernization hoped that as Turkey modernized (and in their view, became more civilized) the moral code attending virginity would be forgotten, along with the concept itself. But in those days, even in Istanbul ’s most affluent Westernized circles, a young girl who surrendered her chastity before marriage could still expect to be judged in certain ways”
The way Kemal and also Fusun’s husband manipulates he desire to become a movie star is also a reflection of society’s attitude to women.Their reaction to fusun is to get close to her and soon as that happens ,they wish o control her. Fusun says “You two were so jealous, so afraid I might find fame and leave you that you had to keep me at home .”the more Kemal loves Fusun,the more he wants to suppress her and to possess her.The earring which Fusun wore the first time they mado love was the same which she wore the last time they made love and both the times it was not noticed by Kemal.
“You didn’t even notice the earring, “she said.
“What earring?”
Dangling from her right ear was the lost earring. Had she been wearing it while we were making love?
Could I have missed such a thing?”

Orhan Pamuk describes how Kemal collects his lover’s belongings and sets them up in his museum.It ‘s a book about memory, lost desperate love, obsession. The novel and the museum go together.The book is laid out in 83 chapters and so is the museum.In chapter 5 “Fuaye, he exhibits an illustrated menu,an advertisement,a match book and a napkin from Fuaye ,one of the European style restaurants.In chapter 68 ,Pamuk writes that Kemal was able to squirrel away 4213 of Fusun’s cigarette butts during his eight years of going to the Keskins for supper. Kemal has visited 5,723 museums in the world before he sets up his own museum.Those who have read the book enjoy free admission to the museum .A ticket is placed in every copy. According to Pamuk museums are not be strolled around in but to be experienced and are made up of collections expressive of the soul of that experience.
The book gives a slice of life Istanbul of 1980’s and its society.
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Barbara Miehls I read this after I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the author (Orhan Pemuk)who had built the museum described in the book, The Museum of Innocence. There was a colored picture with the article. I wondered at the author echoing Kemal's obsession with the tangible , and taking the the extra step of bringing his litrary dream into a concreate reality.


Priyadarshini Sur The book inspired me to visit Istanbul.


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