The Museum of Innocence...!!!

To be frank, this one was supposed to be due more than 3 weeks back.. Somehow things did not work out as I had planned and hence the plans got delayed. I had mentioned about this book way back in December, here. :) :D

Ah.. !!! Orhan Pamuk proves it yet again.. !!!
He is one crafty story teller and he does tell his stories in style... The previous book by Pamuk that I have read is his My Name is Red. You may read the review written by me, way back in 2007.. :)

The Museum of Innocence is at once, mindblowing and heart wrenching. I do not know how to say it.. Its a deja-vu` for me, as I am in the same position as I was in, when I was writing the review for Shantaram. I am a loss of words... I may sound superfluous, but please humour me. This is one hell of a read.

I've never read a book (containing within it, so much of an intensity) with so much intensity. I am usually good with words. I am faltering. A clear indication the influence the book has had on me..

Here is the story line...

Kemal Bey is looking forward to getting engaged to Sibel. One day, as he wanted to purchase a gift for Sibel, he enters a shop, only to find it being 'manned' by a young lady, whom he knows as a distant relative of his - Fusun. He finds her attractive, and seductively charming, though Fusun has made no attempts to seduce Kemal Bey. Kemal realises that Fusun requires some tutoring. He gets the keys of an old flat, that belonged to his mother, and decides to spend some time there, tutoring Fusun. Slowly, there is a clear realisation of the attraction and lust that both have for one another and they make love, many times in the apartments. Kemal Bey is totally floored by Fusun. He begins to adore her. He has this thought, that he must start collecting Fusun's belongings, so that he can continue remembering her, even after she's gone from his flat. Things go well with them. They continue their rendezvous, till the date of Kemal's engagement with Sibel. Sibel is totally unawares of the developments at Kemal's end, and continues to believe that her fiance is probably having a tough time with business and that is the reason for his sudden detachment from all sorts of worldly pleasures and enjoyment.

Fusun makes it to the engagement party, but both Fusun and Kemal make sure that they do not acknowledge the fact that they know each other. Kemal is engaged, but realises that Fusun is totally hurt by this fact and she stops coming to the Mehermet Flats. She also changes her residence, and does not tell anybody of their whereabouts. Kemal Bey realises that he was more deeply in love with this girl than he had previously thought, and spends days together, after his engagement to Sibel, at the flats, longing for Fusun. He keeps touching and inhaling and remembering the intimate moments that they both shared in the confines of the room. Slowly things go out of hand, and Sibel comes to realise the truth. After some confrontation with Kemal, he acknowledges his relationship with Fusun. Sibel and Kemal try to get along as much as possible, but finally Sibel realises that if she continued to stay in his life, she would only be playing the second fiddle. She gets out of his life.

Kemal's search for Fusun begins. He starts 'hunting' down things that Fusun used, right from her lip gloss and mirror to the glass with which she drank water and the cigarrete butts that had her lipstick on it. Finally Kemal finds her, only to find her married to another man. Kemal is heartbroken. But realises that he still has some hope left in his life. He lives his life, just to see Fusun every day.

What happened in Kemal's life after that ? Does Fusun really love Kemal, or her husband ? How Kemal chronicles his 8.5 years with the family, playing along just to get the attention of Fusun.. and how Fusun gets separated from her husband. Finally does Kemal Bey get his share of love from Fusun? and do they live happily ever after is the crux of the story, told albeight in a lengthy manner, but in the manner, befitting a Nobel Prize Winner.

To tell the truth, I would love to play a spoilsport and tell the story here, but then it would do no justice to this great work. Only If you read it, will you be able to enjoy it the most.

I was already impressed with Pamuk's description of Istanbul in My Name is Red. This one goes a step further. I have never seen a writer describe so much in a street, which I would pass on as non-descript. Pamuk truly rocks !!!! His descriptions of the streets, his room, the Mehermet apartments, the Hotel Rooms leave you wondering, if it was the screen play which detailed the props of a scene !! And of course, Pamuk's forte is the small talk !! Oh..!! I wonder how he is able to write it so naturally.. I guess that is a gift.. !! So much detail from a fiction writer is really admirable, but after a point of time, it kinda begins to get boring. He describes Social Life in Turkey, especially in the late 70's and 80's pretty well. The parties, the elite, the Cinemas, the Radio all are given appropriate importance at appropriate parts in the story, thus only heightening the effect.

The author tells us at the fag end, that this was infact Kemal Bey's story told from the first person point of view and that he was only a medium in the story. But quite contrary, I have the feeling that the choice of words and the description of the scenes and rooms cannot be so accurate/flowery unless and until this was a first hand experience. :) So... For all we know, this might be actually Pamuk's own life story, though I've not been able to justify that.. :P

Sometimes there is too much verbosity in the text. The fate of Fusun, the central theme of the book, makes us wonder, what made the author close the chapter on Fusun so abruptly. There could have been some detailing there. Also, too many love making scenes and their detailed description, could definitely have been avoided. The book was slightly long, and I did not expect it to be slightly unyielding towards the end.

Again, I must mention Maureen Freely her. Her translation's been brilliant and nothing short of genius. Writing a story in your mother tongue is different and then translating it into a language which may not be able to succinctly put it forward, with the same meaning is a totally different, difficult and daunting task and Maureen has done it in style.

As usual, I found so many good quotes in this book, I am quoting them below. Please do not be offended by the length of the post, but this was really very tempting.. :P.. I am quoting very very few.

Sometimes it would occur to me that ours was a companionship of knowing shared defeat: This made me even happier than love did.

It was a great joy to study the myriad social refinements of which anthropologists seem to have so little understanding, and most especially these rituals that allowed families to act “as if” they were respecting tradition, even as they broke with it.

I had only to see them once and I could remember the past Füsun and I had shared, the evenings we had spent together at the dinner table. I had associated each and every object—~~ —with a particular moment, and as the years passed, it seemed as if these remembered moments expanded and merged into perpetuity.

“What is love?”
“I don’t know.”
“Love is the name given to the bond Kemal feels with Füsun whenever they travel along highways or sidewalks; visit houses, gardens, or rooms; or whenever he watches her sitting in tea gardens and restaurants, and at dinner tables.”
“Hmmm … that’s a lovely answer,~ But isn’t love what you feel when you can’t see me?”
“Under those circumstances, it becomes a terrible obsession, an illness.”

When men can’t get what they want from a beautiful woman, they do evil things to her.

Seeing how forcefully she was exerting herself to do the right thing, I loved her more than ever, but I also feared the intensity of what was brewing inside her.

The whiplash of living at once what I had been awaiting for years, the sheer disbelief at finding happiness in this world, had reduced the pleasures to a series of luminous moments, discrete and without measure, like so many fireflies, beaming and vanishing in an instant. But the images entering my head beyond my control, as in a dream, molded into one general impression.

She looked at me and smiled. There was compassion in that smile, and, at least in my opinion, just as much mockery as my story, and my obsession, merited.

P.S:-மக்களே உங்களுக்கு love failure ஆகி இருந்தால் , கண்டிப்பாக இந்த புத்தகத்தை படிக்கவும் ... இத விட தத்ரூபமா ஒருத்தரால கதை எழுதவே முடியாது ... எழுதினவன் அனுபவிச்சு எழுதி இருக்கான்... சேரி.. போட்டு ஓடசிடுரேன் ... கதையோட கிளைமாக்ஸ் கொஞ்சம் சோகமா தான் இருக்கும் ..
ஆனா ஒன்னு மட்டும் சொல்லணும் ... நம்ம ஆளு பட்டய கெளப்பி இருக்கான் ..!!!!

P.P.S:- Too good a book... !!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010 by Hari
Categories: , , , , , , , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. I should hunt this down. Didn't read the whole post because of spoilers, but the portion in Tamil is enough to know that it is really good :)

  2. @Shiva :-
    It's available in all leading bookshops.. Let me know if you'd like a copy that I read.. :)
    Hope you got the point.. :P

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