Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Museum of Innocence, A Love Story by Orhan Pamuk

Brukner Apartmanı, 1999 - 2003 Fotoğraf: Cemal Emden

In 1999, writer Orhan Pamuk bought a three story building in Istanbul to interact as a museum with his new novel, "Museum of Innocence," a first of its kind of this application.
He hired an architect, Ihsan Bilgin, before he started the novel to transform the building into a museum where the novel and the museum criss cross each other in a love story between Kemal and Fusun, the main characters. In an autobiographical story, Kemal obsessively collects every object Fusun touches, in remembrance of their complex history into the Museum he builts... After nine years, both Book (Turkish and German print at this time) and the Museum are available.

via; Arkitera.com

"Pamuk describes the relation between the novel and the museum as “The museum is not an illustration of the novel and the novel is not an explanation of the museum. They are two representations of one single story perhaps.”

In a Spiegel interview, Mr. Pamuk answers the question;

And now you are bringing a wonderful new story to the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair which is called "The Museum of Innocence." It's a novel about love, a wonderful love story about Istanbul of course, and also about museums. And it's the first novel in the history of literature, I think, which has its own museum.

Yes, "The Museum of Innocence" chronicles the love story of Kemal, an upper-class person, a person who is occasionally described as high-society. He is 30 years old in 1975 and chronicles his infatuation with a distant relative, a twice removed cousin, Fusun, an 18 year-old shop girl, but very beautiful. As sort of a compensation for his failure to get her hand, he collects everything he can get that Fusun touches, and in the end he makes a museum of the objects that their story is associated with.

My "Museum of Innocence" is a real museum too, which tries to pin down all these objects. I've been collecting things for this museum almost for six years. I bought a house which is actually where this part of the story has been taking place since about ten years ago. I converted it into a museum so the "Museum of Innocence" is both a museum and a novel.

The enjoyment of the novel and the enjoyment of the would-be museum are two entirely different things. The museum is not an illustration of the novel and the novel is not an explanation of the museum. They are two representations of one single story perhaps.

There is a great interview with the architect as well, yet to be translated to English. However, here is a link to that interview by Burcu Karabaş @ arkitera.com for the Turkish reading visitors.

Other Links to this fascinating construction by the Nobel Laureate:

Deutsche Welle Interview
Masumiyet Muzesi (official web site of the book (Turkish)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow!This is the most interesting building I have ever seeeeeeen!!!