I didn't liked 'The White Castle' by Pamuk so was bit apprehensive while picking this up. Perhaps I would have never read any of his book again but then he won the Nobel and I thought well, I should try reading one more of his and I am glad that I did.
This one is a treat, a brilliant account of lives in medieval Turkey, a brilliant insight into the world that seems so distant now. Pamuk is brilliant when he brings about the clash between east and West, between various styles of painting and between various faiths. Intertwining an equally interesting tale, Pamuk gives us a masterful account of Ottoman history along with the awesome description of the art of miniaturing. The style in which the novel is written is also superb and adds to the brilliance of the novel.
This novel has given me enough inspiration to take up Pamuk's other works including 'Black Book' and 'Snow' and yes it has one of my favorite lines; "Poetry is consolation to life's miseries".
A must for everyone who love reading great literature. Following are some of the lines I liked in the novel.
My Name Is Red – Orhan Pamuk
Before my birth there was infinite time, and after my death, inexhaustible time.
In this way, by the twelfth year, when I returned to my city at the age of thirty six, I was painfully aware that my beloved’s face had long since escaped me.
After I took care of that pathetic man, wandering the streets of
Over time, jealousy becomes an element as indispensable as paint in the life of the master artist.
Where there is true art and genuine virtuosity the artist can paint an incomparable masterpiece without leaving even a trace of his identity.
Now that I’ve reached this age, I know that true respect arises not from the heart, but from the discrete rules and deference.
To avoid disappointment in art, one mustn’t treat it as a career.
For if a lover’s face survives emblazoned on your heart, the world is still your home.
A letter doesn’t communicate by words alone. A letter just like a book can be read by smelling it, touching it and fondling it. Thereby, intelligent folk will say, “Go on then, read what the letter tell you!” whereas the dull-witted will say, “Go on then, read what he’s written”.
You know how in such situations reasonable people immediately sense that love without hope is simply hopeless, and understanding the limits of the illogical realm of the heart, make a quick end of it by politely declaring, “They didn’t find us suitably matched. That’s just the way it is.”
Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.
I thereupon thought how easy it was to end a life. My dear God, you’ve given each of us this unbelievable power, but you’ve also made us afraid to exercise it.
The larger and more colorful a city is, the more places there are to hide one’s guilt and sin; the more crowded it is, the more people there are to hide behind. A city’s intellect ought to be measured not by its scholars, libraries, miniaturists, calligraphers and schools, but by the number of crimes insidiously committed on its dark streets over thousands of years.
Poetry is consolation to life’s miseries.
If presented with the opportunity, we would choose to do in the name of a greater goal whatever awful thing we have already prepared to do for the sake of our own miserable gains, for the lust that burns within us or for the love that breaks our hearts.
In situations such as this, as soon as our merciless intellects draw the bitter conclusion that our hearts refuse, the entire body rebels against the mind.
A great painter does not content himself by affecting us with his masterpieces; ultimately, he succeeds in changing the landscape of our minds. Once a miniaturist’s artistry enters our soul this way, it becomes the criterion for the beauty of our world.
I was encouraged when I saw he could no longer look me directly in the eye. Magnanimous men, who think themselves better and morally superior to others, cannot look you in the eye when they are embarrassed on your behalf, perhaps because they are contemplating reporting you and abandoning you to a fate of torture and execution.
“The first step is marriage,” I said. “Let’s see to that first. Love comes after marriage. Don’t forget: Marriage douses love’s flame, leaving nothing but a barren and melancholy blackness. Of course, after marriage, love itself will banish anyway; but happiness fills the void. Still, there are those hasty fools who fall in love before marrying and, burning with emotion, exhaust all their feeling, believing love to be the highest goal in life.”
“The truth is contentment. Love and marriage are but a means to obtaining it: a husband, a house, children, a book.”
Maybe you’ve understood by now that for men like myself, that is, melancholy men for whom love, agony, happiness and misery are just excuses for maintaining eternal loneliness, life offers neither great joy nor great sadness.
Painting brings to life what the mind sees, as a feast for the eyes.
What the eyes sees in the world enters the painting to the degree that it serves the mind.
Consequently, beauty is the eye discovering in our world what the mind already knows.
The memory of the blind exposes the merciless simplicity of life but also deadens its vigor.
Books, which we mistake for consolation, only add depth to our sorrows.
There are moments in all our lives when we realize, even as we experience them, that we are living through events we will never forget, even long afterward.
There were two types of people in the world: those who were cowed and crushed by their childhood beatings, forever downtrodden because the beating had the desired effect of killing the inner devils; and those fortunate ones for whom the beatings frightened and tamed the devil within without killing him off.
Time doesn’t flow if you don’t dream.
If you stare long enough your mind enters the time of the painting.
It seemed to me that the entire world was like a palace with countless rooms whose doors opened into one another. We were able to pass from one room to the next only by exercising our memories and imaginations, but most of us, in our laziness, rarely exercised these capacities, and forever remained in the same room.