02 August, 2021

The Light From The Centre

Pamuk’s poetics of the novel is informed by his craft and a ‘non-western’ specificity

Reuters (From Outlook, February 28, 2011)
The Light From The Centre

Though there were stars aplenty at the Jaipur Literary Festival, the power couple of the event certainly were Orhan Pamuk and his Bookered lady love. But now that the celebrity gossip has abated—and also the accompanying acrimony that was always beside the point, whatever the point is, or was—it is time to attend to the substantial reflection on the art and craft of the novel that Pamuk’s publishers shrewdly decided to release after the Jaipur mela: The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist. Pamuk is a thoughtful and insightful guide to the mysteries of narrative. And as a practising novelist of distinction, he speaks with a becoming mixture of authority and modesty—unlike, may one say, the eunuchs in the harem, who can’t actually do it, but know all about how it’s done, and can be done better.

As befits a work by a master of narrative, even this discursive exercise— Pamuk’s Charles Eliot Norton lectures, delivered at Harvard in 2009—is structured around a mystery. From the very...

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