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thehandsom 14 Feb 2009

Open for lovers who could not find a place to kiss

Orhan Pamuk´s latest book ´Masumiyet muzesi´ -Museum of innocence´

"It was the happiest moment of my life, I did not know"(that is how the book starts)

 

The novel is starting in 1975 in Nisantasi district of Istanbul. A love story between a rich 30 years of bourgeois man, Kemal and his  long distant relative 18 years old Fusun, whose family is not rich.

The theme is almost like an old Turkish movie: A love story between rich and poor..

 

The book makes a fast entry into this love, which is what the book is about - between Kemal and Fusun. You almost feel  Fusun´s love  for Kemal in a way that she submits herself without any hesitation, though she knows the harsh realities of  class differences (in their world) and the fact that Kemal is engaged to a rich girl, Sibel who was educated in Europe. 

 

I loved her, her determination and ´going till the end for love´ type attitude at the beginning of the novel I must say.. And Kemal, I felt a bit angry with the character because  he could not control the events around himself and went along with the planned engagement ceremony which is 50 pages long (and reminded me Adalet Agaoglu´s novel ´Bir Dugun Gecesi´) . And I did think he was a spoilt rich bourgeois, a person who deserves to be slapped and humiliated (My mind has made complete ´U´ turn about him when I finished the book  btw:) ) 

 

After the engagement (Kemal and Sibel), Fusun disappears..

 

Then everything colapses around Kemal, including his engagement to Sibel..

 

While she was still missing, his entire joy of life becomes going back to the apartment where they used to make love and looking at the objects remained from her.. (That is how the museum idea starts the develop). 

 

Finding consolation  with the objects  such as one of her earrings etc., in order to bear the pain of his lost love.

 

Looking at them, touching them, smelling them are the activities which make Kemal´s life endurable..

 

Then Fusun sends Kemal her new address and a surprise: She is married to a boy who had a crush on her for years (Kemal will learn later that their marriage was a kind of fixed marriage to save her honor - since she was not a virgin).

 

And after that, the readers will read the details of Kemal´s visits to their house (almost every second night) in next  400 pages.

 

Kemal explains it with "the only happiness is being close to who you love". 

 

From time to time, you may think that it is nothing to do with love but it is a ´pathetic obsession´..

 

And you may feel bored: Page after page, what they were eating, how he managed to have a few words in private with Fusun.. Although it is a bit boring to read this bulky section, but Orhan Pamuk makes the entire situation believable!..(a rich, healthy, upper class hero is going into an apartment year after year -total 8 years- for his love.. Just to have a glimpse of her..Just to be closer to his love!!) 

 

And also those 8 years are the years when he starts to collect the items for the museum (of course he DOES ´steal´ them but following day, he buys something for them as compensation :D )

 

When you just start to think ´oh god, some one please slap him´ or ´give him a razor so he can slash his wrists´, the book starts to rise the emotion level again with Fusun getting divorced and telling Kemal that she would get married to him..

 

She goes for everything.. She wants everything she could not have or she always envied or she always wanted.. Including an engagement, him introducing her publicly to his friends and family and a European trip with a car!

 

They start the journey and somewhere in Thrace (before leaving Turkey), they stay for a night in a hotel and make love (after all those years) and in the morning, she drives the car, and...

They have an accident..

Fusun dies!!

 

..

 

You feel the sorrow Kemal might be feeling.. After reading all his feelings,  his visits to the apartment year after year, you just think he should have deserved to live happily ever after with Fusun..

 

When you are really feeling sorry for him, it comes the final page (which made me get up from my bed in the 

middle of the night and made me drink a large glass of bacardi!!)..

 

He shows Fusun´s picture to the writer (Orhan Pamuk) and asks him ´is she not beautiful?´

Then he tells proudly his last words for the book:

 

´Everybody should know, I had a very happy life´ 

 

And it leaves you with the feeling ´as if you had many things to tell but you have saved them till that moment´

 

.............................................................

 

I am sure everybody will find a piece of themselves in the characters of this book..

 

It is a book which may force you to think about concepts such as virginity and its importance in some cultures, Turkish culture vs western culture, traditionalism vs modernism, marriage vs living together, lives of middle class families in Turkey etc. Or it may make you think about what to do or where you would put the ´real love´ (when you have one) when you fight with  everyday life with the principles such as ´be always alert, do  not trust people by default, always trying to protect your dignity, don´t embarrass yourself, put your personal interests above everything´ etc.

 

Anyway, my opinion is that ´masumiyet muzesi´ is a proof how great Orhan Pamuk is as a writer..

 

Orhan Pamuk writing his book

 




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