The Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence

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Overview

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, John Lee

“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.” So begins the new novel, his first since winning the Nobel Prize, from the universally acclaimed author of Snow and My Name Is Red. It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal, scion of one of the city’s wealthiest families, is about to become engaged to Sibel, daughter of another prominent family, when he encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation. Once the long-lost cousins violate the code of virginity, a rift begins to open between Kemal and the world of the Westernized Istanbul bourgeosie—a world, as he lovingly describes it, with opulent parties and clubs, society gossip, restaurant rituals, picnics, and mansions on the Bosphorus, infused with the melancholy of decay—until finally he breaks off his engagement to Sibel. But his resolve comes too late. For eight years Kemal will find excuses to visit another Istanbul, that of the impoverished backstreets where Füsun, her heart now hardened, lives with her parents, and where Kemal discovers the consolations of middle-class life at a dinner table in front of the television. His obsessive love will also take him to the demimonde of Istanbul film circles (where he promises to make Füsun a star), a scene of seedy bars, run-down cheap hotels, and small men with big dreams doomed to bitter failure. In his feckless pursuit, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress and his afflicted heart’s reactions: anger and impatience, remorse and humiliation, deluded hopes of recovery, and daydreams that transform Istanbul into a cityscape of signs and specters of his beloved, from whom now he can extract only meaningful glances and stolen kisses in cars, movie houses, and shadowy corners of parks. A last change to realize his dream will come to an awful end before Kemal discovers that all he finally can possess, certainly and eternally, is the museum he has created of his collection, this map of a society’s manners and mores, and of one man’s broken heart.

A stirring exploration of the nature of romantic attachment and of the mysterious allure of collecting, The Museum of Innocence also plumbs the depths of an Istanbul half Western and half traditional—its emergent modernity, its vast cultural history. This is Orhan Pamuk’s greatest achievement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780739369265
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/20/2009
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. His novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages. He lives in Istanbul.

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The Museum of Innocence 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 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."
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MsKaos More than 1 year ago
I was pulled in from the first line, but then the story went on and on and on. I connected with his obsessive love for the love of his life, enjoyed the writing style, but this book could have been half as long and I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.
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