The Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence

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The Museum of Innocence 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1975 in Istanbul, affluent thirty year old Kemal stops at a shop to buy a purse for his fiancée Sibel; also of a wealthy family. He is instantly attracted to the shop girl eighteen year old Fusun, who he knows is forbidden fruits as his family will object to her for being from the poor side of town and besides his match is made; they are also related though quite distantly. Kemal does not break off his engagement, but maintains everything as memorabilia (in his mind) that involves his non-relationship with Fusun, as he keeps everything and looks at each item as the most precious whether it be earrings, etc in his personal museum. He feels no contentment in spite of his wife's caring tenderness at a time when discontent rules the country. Only with his "priceless" artifact collection reminding him of what he never had enables him to fantasize about his Fusun does he feel some contentment. This is a deep look at unrequited love using the backdrop of turmoil late 1970s Turkey to enhance the impact of the intense story line. Profound, Kemal makes the tale as he knows he obsesses over Fusun as depicted by his prizes he maintains in The Museum of Innocence. Sibel and Fusun, though differing personalities, are fully developed people who add to Kemal's confusion by being themselves. Although the plot feels overwhelming at times with so much going on in Istanbul, readers will appreciate Orhan Pamuk's powerful tale of a man fixated on a "Goddess" he can never obtain as truly his outside his imagination. Harriet Klausner
PBRaju More than 1 year ago
Orhan Pamuk is my favorite writer, his inimitable aromatic prose provides the insights into the existential conundrums of the affluent on the brink of westernization, and yet pulled eastward by the Islamic social mores at a personal level. His books, unequivocally, have provided me with a proxy catharsis. I simply revel in his ethereal command of the human longings. He lives it and experiences it like we all do, but it is his prose that expresses his experience like no other alive today. The recent prose masterpiece "The Museum of Innocence" is a plate full of longings, laced with melancholy, within a societal east-west tug-of-war of the affluent set in Istanbul. Kemal, the protagonist, presents his life in the first person in a baleful and melancholic tone throughout this story of wait and hope. A wait for his love to return to his fold through reticence, betrayals, denials and conscience and class struggles. Many times, I could not help but feel that Pamuk was indeed telling us his own experience, that this was his story and Kemal was just his proxy. Kemal is in a relationship with a beautiful society lady called Sibel, with all the trappings of the affluent set. The impending engagement, the gifts, the parties and get togethers, the secret sex before nuptuals, the picnics and theater with a close collection of friends. Then he discovers Fusun, a distant cousin, and her devastating beauty at a store, where he goes to buy his soon to be fiance, a handbag. The story and the plot are not unusual or anything out of the ordinary, in fact it is downright predictable, but this is not about the plot or the story, it is entirely about the process, it is a story of a suffering and waiting for love, the process that provides us with furtive trips into a suffering man's consciousness about betraying one lady and desperately waiting for the other, no less than ten years. It is a masterful display in the obfuscation of the story and the plot by the process, the process of suffering that makes a man irrational, unreasonable and irrelevant to the present, as he lives in the past and the future simultaneously, looking forward to that reunion with his true love, Fusun. This process of suffering and wait took shape in many ways, the imaginary and the real wanderings looking for her on the streets of various neighborhoods, the purfunctory attempts to reconcile with Sibel, the sittings at the tea shops hoping to catch a glimpse of her. The most heartwrenching aspect of this suffering and waiting process was his collection of "artefacts" that Fusun had touched or was around that sustained his psyche in the present. The chapter on "The Collectors" at the end the book is a real work of art, on people who live by their symbols of life and love in melancholy and permanent wait. This book provides us with a blueprint of how to stretch the genre of fiction by innovative composition and perhaps even break some rules. I highly recommend this prose "museum" by Orhan Pamuk! Raju Peddada
timh More than 1 year ago
Orhan Pamuk is one of my favorite authors, a master craftsman of modern fiction. This story of obsession (of a young modern Turk with a distant cousin for whom he breaks a culturally ideal engagement and with whom he fashions a strained, uncoupled relationship for years) has the power of Nabokov without so much of the creepy, seemy underside. In a couple of chapters it is Joycean in streams of consciousness that rivet attention to the most mundane details of ordinary daily life. It is long, over 500 pages, but if the obsession becomes redundant and boring (all are by definition), stay with the book to the end: Pamuk is at his masterful best in his construction of the circumstances of the telling and publication of the story.
Blitzismydog More than 1 year ago
This multi-layered story is dream-like, upsetting, repetitive, humorous, enchanting, depressing... just like romantic love and obsession can be all these things. Events and characters are clearly, luminously drawn, but the novel's brilliance is its structure, its use of repetition, its dogged loyalty to themes of obsession and its ultimate acquiescence, like the leading character Kemal, to memories and the torture of what might have been. The setting of 1970s Turkey also reveals how the culture is undergoing a steady 'Westernization,' and its younger-generation characters are living quite differently from their parents' experiences. The societal view of virginity, marriage, movies and TV all are changing; major and minor characters illustrate societal change as well as the importance to many of tradition. It gives Pamuk the perfect canvas on which to paint his meditation about love and convention. Kemal is thrust by convention into a happy engagement, but by chance becomes involved with a lower-'caste' girl/woman with whom he eventually becomes obsessed. Obsession rules his life, ruins the engagement, dissolves his branch of the family business and sets him on a quest for re-living "the happiest moment" of his life. He cannot possess former shopgirl Fusun, so he collects and possesses her things, including anything she might have touched. He slowly sinks into an obsessive funk that possesses him. Here is wonderful writing, wonderful exploration of emotions, and much tension between traditional/modern, between generations, between men and women, between happiness and the irrational. I found this to be a brilliant book although the repetition got to me several times. Kemal's reverie/misery illuminates the book but traps any sense of progression. While I'm sure this was 'on purpose,' it tried my patience. All in all, a great literature experience, not merely a book. Probably best suited for more patient, academic readers rather than those who enjoy a page-turner best.
Mortoliphe More than 1 year ago
The book is a window into a foreign city and way of life, in a very interesting and fun way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved it
Shahji More than 1 year ago
This is the second time I have to write this review. I tried to upload it first time but I don't know what happened and I lost whatever I had written. So I will try to rewrite whatever I remember from the first review. I first came to know about this book from a youtube video in which I heard one news anchor mentioning it. I forgot the reason why he was mentioning it but anyhow I bought it online from Barnes and Noble. When I started reading it, I didn't like it in the beginning and this feeling remained till the end though to much lesser extent. I will explain in detail what I liked and didn’t like about this book but first I would like to comment on what is unique about this book. And that is, the writer “Orhan Pamuk” (who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature), went on to create a museum, a real museum (in Turkey) based on the characters and objects mentioned in the novel. I believe that whoever is reading this book and at the same time visiting the museum will have a deeper impact and have deeper understanding of how some object in our lives have an emotional memory attached to them. I mean a cup present on the shelf is just a cup until you know why it is there, what story is attached to it and how it is connected to the person who is seeing it as a museum piece. They must have felt the presence of Kemal, Fusun, Sibel and everyone else mentioned in the book among the objects placed in the museum. As the story is fictional and everything mentioned in the novel is a fictional account, but when you visit the museum and have the feeling of seeing and experiencing the fictional characters and account as real, that is uniqueness I am talking about. I am not sure it the first novel in that category but at least this idea was new to me. And I believe that is whole idea of literature i.e. to entertain and stimulate at the same time and I think this book serves this purpose very well. Now I will explain what I didn’t like in the book: first as I started reading the book I thought of it as one of those novels in which a rich spoiled guy falls in love with a poor nice girl (or vice versa) and everyone else get together to conspire against them so that they can’t be together only because they are rich or poor. I mean these kinds of stories are so common in the part of world to which I belong that whenever I read a book or watch a movie or television show about it I get very nauseated. But I would give credit to the author that he somehow kept on to attract my attention so that I was able to finish it. Second, there is not much going on in the book. This is story of two persons and two or three people surrounding them. And therefore reading more than five hundred pages become kind of difficult because everything start to seem as repetitious. Third reason is that (and I understand it is my own shortcoming) I would have liked to read this book in its original language. It is not that the translation is poor but it is my belief that you can’t enjoy the taste of sentence or a word until you understand what depth of meaning it conveys and to understand that depth we have to know the original language in which that word or sentence was said or written. Now the things that I liked about the book: first thing is the idea of establishing a real museum and its role in stimulating the reader. Second I came to know a lot about Turkish culture and very little about Turkish history. I am not going to delve into the discussion of politics and culture, suffice is to say that it is not very much different from the rest of Muslim world, at least to the extent described in the book. Third I read many people describing this novel as one of their reasons to travel Turkey. My reason for traveling to Turkey wouldn’t be this book but I will definitely go to the “Museum of Innocence” in order to see what impact it leaves on me. And then perhaps I will update my review. (I am not sure if I could use my book as a ticket for admittance into the museum, though the novel claims that I can).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a book like Shades of Gray then dont read this book. Pamuks novel is about capturing time in objects and creating a story with them. This is a literature lovers novel, not a beach lovers. After reading the novel, travel to Istanbul and visit the actual museum. The ticket is included in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply stated: I loved this book. Pamuk describes and examines the depths of love through his protagonist who experiences love as finely nuanced within a spectrum that includes pure love, splendorous love, spiritual love, physical love, greedy love, angry love, jealous love, murderous love--all of which must be contained and controlled (or not) by the protagonist. The protagonist's experience of love emerges, innocently, and becomes deep and soulful, as well as profoundly moving, until, like an exhibit in a museum, the abundant facets of human love are fully displayed for the reader. Pamuk's prose are fabulous--which means the translator did a great job, too! It reads effortlessly and colorfully. I became totally immersed in the book and looked forward to each time I could pick it up again.
lolita12 More than 1 year ago
sometimes, indignant, he would try to stay away from her. but almost every night he came for dinner with her, her parents and her husband. he'd steal little mementos - from cigarette butts to ceramic dogs and silverware - anything she might have held, treasured to keep in the museum. a life spent on obsessions, repressions, possessions, somewhat happiness and guilt for this one love, the same destruction we always choose. "if we can learn to stop thinking of our lives corresponding to aristotle's time, treasuring our time instead for its deepest moments, then waiting eight years assumes the reality of 1,953 happy nights. today, i remember each and every evening - even the most difficult, the most hopeless, most humiliating evenings - as happiness."
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Writing about Vladimir Nabokov's novel Ada, Orhan Pamuk said that "Nabokov reminds us that our memories allow us to carry our childhood with us, and with it the golden age we thought we had left behind." This is not that dissimilar from the memories of the narrator of Orhan Pamuk's scintillating novel The Museum of Innocence. It is with a memory of love, obsessive and passionate, inflamed by Eros that Kemal, the narrator of the story, begins his tale.It is a tale that reminded me of Socrates discussion of the myth of the chariot in The Phaedrus. The charioteer is filled with warmth and desire as he gazes into the eyes of the one he loves. Ultimately he is torn by a sort of divine madness. In the novel Kemal tells how "I first began to feel fissures opening in my soul, wounds of the sort that plunge men into a deep dark, lifelong loneliness for which there is no cure." (pp 52-3)Fairly soon into the story Kemal throws over the perfection of his fiance, Sibel, whose "perfect placement of every pearl" cannot compete with the hold that Eros has over him in his overwhelming passion of the young girl Fusun.Now if this is all there was to this story the novel would be short, semi-sweet, and in spite of the beautiful prose of the author not worthy of much further comment. But, as you may suspect there is more to this novel than this simple, albeit passionate, tale of a Turkish love triangle. No, the Museum of Innocence plumbs the depths of illusion. There is the illusion of love, the illusion of time, and ultimately the illusion of life.The malleability of time is evidence of what the narrator calls "the illusion that is time." (p 282) It is compared to the difference between the personal life we each live within and the "official" time that we share with others. Kemal's obsessive love controlled his personal time even as the clock on the wall in Fusun's home ticked off the "time". The reader experiences a similar sensation when the regularity of short chapters of the novel is suddenly broken by chapter 24, "The Engagement Party", which is almost five times longer than the average length of those preceding. You must discover for yourself what intimacies of plot detail warrant a slowing of the flow of the story. Kemal's obsessive love is also illusory and leads him through memories of a life that is just as much illusion as he is blinded to the reality of the individuals who people his world.Ultimately the narrative succeeds in communicating the complexity of what Kemal calls "the strange and mysterious spirit" of his days spent pursuing the illusion of life through obsessive love. The suspense keeps building as the novel progresses to the point where you begin to feel like those actors on the stage who wait for the next direction. The novel becomes a collection of episodes in the life of a collector - someone whose passions make for exceptional reading.
BenTreat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did not enjoy this book a great deal. I did read the whole thing, and I am unsure why. For long stretches, I simply detested the narrator and wondered why the same pattern of obsessive, stupid behavior justified my continued attention.In the end, I believe I continued reading because I felt certain (and judicious foreshadowing implied) that the narrator would suffer in the end, and I admit that I really wanted him to suffer, and I wanted to see it. This made me feel dirty inside.The narrator is a conceited, self-absorbed, foolish individual. He never grows out of adolescence. To be in his presence is misery, and in fact, most of his friends leave him behind.The narrator never sees his "beloved" as a person. He never recognizes that his passion for Fusun is mere narcissism, that he loves "himself loving her," not her for herself. In the end, everyone and everything is a means to an end (self-flattery) and his "beloved" Fusun is simply the most important means at his disposal.Pamuk executed an amazing character study of a most miserable character. But as with any art form, the experience of consuming a very "technical" performance -- is not always a pleasant experience.This book would best suit a reader who wants to read the complete works of Pamuk, or else a literature students who want to use this work for the purposes of writing a literary critical piece. For an introduction to Pamuk's writing, try almost anything else.
MeditationesMartini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you read this, read it right to the end. And then visit the Museum of Innocence.
ztutz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book does a wonderful job of dissecting the male ego and accompanying, gender-specific, obsessive tendencies. As you might expect, many of the books characters are women, all of whom are lovingly wrought and all of whom are in some way repressed or destroyed by Turkish societal norms. For this reason, it can be difficult to read, although the beautiful prose and the clever structure mitigate the harshness of the storyline. I put it right up with Lolita, which is a book that I love.
nbarman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, I'm going to tell it as it is. Nobel-winning writer aside, this book is insufferable. I frankly don't understand the hype, the glowing reviews, attention from the New Yorker - this book is bad. Really bad.The story revolves around a privileged man in Istanbul who has a short affair with a shopgirl and proceeds to become completely obsessed with her. So obsessed is he that after the girl marries someone else, he ends up sitting at their dinner table for the next 8 years.When Kemal is not hopping around the latest upper-class Istanbul hotspots, he's becoming an expert kleptomaniac, pocketing everything around Füsun's house. He reports back about his activities with glee - "After having taken all those matchboxes, and Fusun's cigarette butts, and the saltshakers, the coffee cups, the hairpins, and the barrettes - things not difficult to pick up, because people rarely notice them missing - I began to set my sights on things like ashtrays, cups, and slippers¿" Several pages later, we find out that "during my eight years of going to the Keskins' for supper, I was able to squirrel away 4,213 of Fusun's cigarette buts. Each one of these had touched her rosy lips and entered her mouth, some even touching her tongue and becoming moist [shock of all shocks!] as I would discover when I put my finger on the filter soon after she had stubbed the cigarette out; the stubs, reddened by her lovely lipstick, bore the unique impress of her lips at some moment whose memory was laden with anguish or bliss¿"There are plenty of signs that Kemal's obsession is not well received. Going back to cigarette stubbing, we find out that "sometimes she would stub it out with evident anger, sometimes with impatience. I had seen her stub out a cigarette in anger many times, and this caused me disquiet."This might be an interesting storyline if it wasn't the same old hogwash repeating itself for 560 pages. There are entire chapters of this. Allow me to list out some chapter names for you: "The Melancholy of Autumn" is followed by "Cold and Lonely November Days". A few chapters later, there is a chapter titled "An Indignant and Broken Heart Is of No Use to Anyone." Other reviewers have tried to find beauty in this book by its descriptions of Istanbul in the 1970's. Some have claimed that Pamuk's "museum" is a commemoration of a time and a place in Istanbul and that the book tries to showcase a lost culture. I disagree. Sure there are a few pages scattered here and there about Istanbul, and sure, the writing does shine in a few small segments. But the vast majority of the book is about Fusun's lips, tears, anger, family, dinners, cigarette butts, marriage, saltshakers, eyes, expressions and words. These discourses have only the most tangential relation to anything enlightening about 1970's Istanbul.There is a disconcerting conceit about the author, when he introduces himself as a character - "This is how I came to seek out the esteemed Orhan Pamuk, who has narrated the story in my name and with my approval¿ I had also heard that he was a man lovingly devoted to his work and who took storytelling seriously." There is a lot more self-advertising in this book, but I won't delve into it. Suffice it to say that I really suffered through this book and would have abandoned it were it not so bad that I spent most of my time thinking about how I would justify such a critical review of such a well-hyped book.
Rosareads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story of obsessional love was obsessively written. In spite of the wonderfully drawn characters (none of them likable) and an interesting and challenging story, I can't give the book more than two stars because so many pages of the book I felt like I was pushing my way past words, lots of words, too many words. The author's innovative final chapter was brief and to the point, wrapping up the loose ends of the story nicely.
EpicTale on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent and enjoyable book (despite 500+ pages) - though not a great stylist (as conyeyed in the English translation), I was held by the sense of lasting obsession that the narrator conveyed. If only I could experience and share the narrator's knowledge of "the one". The book's ending was neat, too. Thanks!
hemlokgang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will never walk through a museum so blithely dismissing some of the seemingly trivial collections again! Another Orhan Pamuk work of genius. In this novel the reader works through the "Museum of Innocence" created by the narrator and protagonist, Kemal Bey. Is he obsessive? Passionate? Ludicrous? Pathetic? Noble? That is for each reader to decide. The major themes of this story about love include: Passion, obsession, loss, family, social expectations in Istanbul in the 1970s, cultural change and its impact in Istanbul, women's issues in Istanbul, and about how one can savor one's life through the minutiae all around us at all times. What an amazing writer!
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Five hundred pages of long-face about a pair of star-crossed lovers.They're cousins. Only not really. And it's set in Istanbul in 1975, with excursions to the present.I know more about Istanbul in 1835 than 1975, though the latter is within my own lifespan. (Okay, okay, WELL within my own lifespan.) I like Turkish history because it's so improbable and so full of moments when they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory! I like alternate history so I love those moments where things could have gone either way...rich fodder for imaginings.I thought this book, about the life lived by a wealthy man who seduces his poor, estranged teenaged cousin in his mother's extra apartment would fill in a gap for me.Ew.The obsessiveness with which this poor schmoe turns his very real guilt over his cousin's blighted life into a passion for collecting the minutuae and ephemera of that life is, well, distasteful. It's just amazing to me to imagine that kind of passionate hold a person has over another, and for such a negative reason.The cousin dies, of course, because no bad girl can live, right? And the man withers and wastes away, insisting to the author (who appears as himself, called "Orhan Bey," in what I can only describe as a grandstandy little bit of Maguffinry) that he's led a happy life, tell the story of the happy life, as he's about to die at, what, sixty? Codswallop! He's led a miserable half-life, and quite appropriate too, and frankly the only thing that keeps this from being a 50s Ann Bannon lesbian romance is the gender of the protagonist and the Nobel Prize for Literature that Orhan Bey has won.Read at your own risk.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is about obsession and happiness, solitude and melancholy, and the plot is about two lovers and their melodramatic story full of twists and turns. Yet the plot didn¿t seem at the core of the book. The main story was Istanbul, really - its people and their values, interests and their approach to life, depicted and analyzed in minute detail and with great depth. The characters reflect their times (70s and 80s of the last century) and the milieu known to Pamuk ¿ he himself makes an appearance twice- once at the engagement party of the main character at the beginning of the book, and then by the end of it. The main characters: Kamal, a young successful industrialist, and two of his lovers: Sibel and Füsun are very well portrayed with equally minute detail. The problem was that even though I appreciated the masterful portrayal of Kamal, I didn¿t like him much. He reflected the times perfectly, and even though he thought of himself as of progressive modern man, above his peers and ahead of his times, he was neither particularly noble, nor in any other way outstanding. His actions were inspired by the societal norms, and for the most part, he failed to illicit my sympathy. Actually, it was quite painful to endure him for such a long time (the book is over 500 pages long), and listen to his little lies and self-deceptions. The two female characters, on the other hand, are also products of their time, but completely different from each other: Sibel, intelligent, progressive and modern, and Füsun, more approaching an ideal of an obedient and beautiful young girl, but deeply troubled by an inability to fulfill her life¿s aspirations, with her name probably not accidentally rhyming with the Turkish word for melancholy, hüzün.Even though the writing was very good, the whole didn¿t work so well for me. All in all, it felt somewhat artificial, like one of these Turkish movie melodramas Pamuk is writing about thrown against the panorama of the society and the city.
checkadawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story of obsessive love. I admire Pamuk's dedication to a concept (the concept of obsessive love), and Pamuk captures the concept very well with a lot of detail and repetition. However, the overwhelming nature of the obsession becomes tedious over time.
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