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The Study of Orhan Pamuk

Author ZhangHu
Tutor WangZhiGeng
School Nankai University
Course Comparative Literature and World Literature
Keywords Pamuk secularism reform Turkish woman Sufism h(u ")z(u ")n
Type PhD thesis
Year 2013
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Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish writer and the winner of Nobel Prize for literature in2006. On the basis of summing up the previous studies, this dissertation is trying to reform Pamuk criticism radically, fill up its omissions, and then make a comprehensive study of Pamuk, which interpretation will be carried out in a academic debate way.Firstly, since the social-historical criticism of "Pamuk and Turkey" is absence from current studies. This dissertation will discuss it from four aspects, namely Mustafa Kemal and secularism reforms, Islamism, Turkish woman and minorities. These four aspects basically cover the main problems in the development history of modern Turkey. Its main contents include Pamuk’s contradictory attitude towards the history of Turkey in the last hundred years, his sympathetic recognition of Islam extremism, his close attention to the living conditions of Turkish woman, and his criticism on the policies of minorities in Turkey. Then, I will talk about the debate between cultural hybrid school and cultural clash school in today’s Pamuk studies and the misunderstanding of Pamuk’s "unnecessary" protagonists and "Kitsch" love narratives. For me, they are the core part of Pamuk’s cultural view. Last, by discussing Istanbul, the "native" city of Pamuk, the "new symbols of clash and interlacing" will be revealed in this dissertation, i.e., put aside politics and pursue love.Secondly, this dissertation is on a quest for the cultural origins of Pamuk’s writing. Pamuk’s works has two cultural origins, namely the Sufi mysticism and the postmodernism. The problem is that there are also two schools in the studies of such origins. And what’s more, there are too many debates and puzzles between them. This dissertation is trying to stitch these two schools, eliminate the excessive interpretations, and unfold the most outstanding Sufism feature and postmodernism feature—"the protagonists of sufi" and "uncertainty", because they are one thing for Pamuk. The former means that all of Pamuk’s protagonists are derived from one character prototype. His name is Sufi. From The White Castle to Snow, the protagonists’ manner and speech clearly embodies the external features of the Sufi believers, i.e., unworldliness, silence, spoony, self-recognition, pursuit and love of Allah, etc. The latter means that a kind of uncertainty always existed in Pamuk’s plots, characters and themes. Its root is the uncertain culture and identity of Turkey. It’s an uneasy task that stitching the sufism school and postmodernism school. This dissertation will begin such work with an analysis of the Galip in The Black Book and a comparison of Pamuk and Borges. I hope this section can show a new Pamuk who across the Eastern and Western culture on the level of artistic forms.Moreover, as a matter of fact, the study of Pamuk has already walked into a bottlenecking stage. Many problems were been talked about again and again without any new ideas both at home and abroad, such as cultural hybrid, Sufism, and huzun. But the writing of Pamuk was constantly changing during the past30years, which shows that each of his books has its own relative independent thought and artistic values. What are they? This is a problem that present criticism couldn’t answer. This dissertation is going to read and interpret Pamuk’s seven novels, e.g., The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name Is Red, from different aspects as plots, characters, and structures, by using the theories of Freud, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, Don Cupitt, Lefebvre, etc. In the view of these new theories and perspectives, some omission can be filled up as the interpretation of The New Life and the syllogism of mysterious way, some widely accepted opinions can be challenged as the rereading of "Olive" in My Name Is Red, some controversial issues may acquire a new answer as the discussion of the style of The Black Book, some unknown bright spots and values can be rediscovered as the space power criticism of Istanbul:Memories and the City and the analysis of the "object" in The Museum of Innocence. This is a kaleidoscope of Pamuk’s works, which may opens up new worlds for modern Pamuk criticism.Last, I’m going to discuss several more important issues about the writing of Pamuk, which mainly include the autobiographical writing, the literary and artistic theories, the comparative study of Pamuk and Dostoevsky, and the artistic style or "huzun". These problems are not only repeated throughout the lifetime of Pamuk and all his books, but connected to every part of this dissertation. Some of them are new, some are old. However, no one has been analyzed clearly and intensely up to now. Freud had said that writings are the decorated daydreams of the writers. In a sense, every novel is a kind of autobiographical writing. Pamuk is no exception. He has planted his own experiences, ideas, characters in the protagonists, and take his parents, grandparents and other real life into the novels. But very few scholars pay attention to it. The situation of the comparative studies of Pamuk and Dostoevsky is the same. In order to open up this new academic horizon, I’m trying to compare The White Castle and Double in this section. Furthermore, Pamuk has delivered his Norton Lecture at Harvard University in2009. Then, his literary and artistic theories became a new issue. Since no one has studied it till now, I’m going to explore it firstly. The last issue have to talk about is the writing style of Pamuk. Althrough this issue has been discussed many times by many critics, if we asked ourselves what’s the uniqueness of huzun in Pamuk’s texts, we couldn’t give it a clear answer. This dissertation will analyzed it from plenty of levels as Pamuk’s own temperament, the poetics features, the cultural origins, the connotation of history, etc., and then to answer the difficult question:how does huzun become a kind of huzun?In a word, the goal of my writing this dissertation is to construct a more comprehensive, objective, and real study system of Pamuk. It is not only a critical summary of the previous studies, but also a systematic and detailed basis for the future criticism.

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