Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy is the first critical study of all of Pamuk’s novels, including the early untranslated work. In 2005 Orhan Pamuk was charged with “insulting Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. Eighteen months later he was awarded the Nobel Prize. After decades of criticism for wielding a depoliticized pen, Pamuk was cast as a dissident through his trial, an event that underscored his transformation from national literateur to global author. By contextualizing Pamuk’s fiction into the Turkish tradition and by defining the literary and political intersections of his work, Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy rereads Pamuk's dissidence as a factor of the form of his novels. This is not a traditional study of literature, but a book that turns to literature to ask larger questions about recent transformations in Turkish history, identity, modernity, and collective memory. As a corrective to common misreadings of Pamuk’s work in its international reception, Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy applies various analytical lenses to the politics of the Turkish novel, including gender studies, cultural translation, historiography, and Islam. The book argues that modern literature that confronts representations of the nation-state, or devlet, with those of Ottoman, Islamic, and Sufi contexts, or din, constitute “secular blasphemies” that redefine the politics of the Turkish novel. Concluding with a meditation on conditions of "untranslatability" in Turkish literature, this study provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of Pamuk’s novels to date.
The occupation of Istanbul is a little-known historical event outside of Turkey and the Middle East. European powers occupied Istanbul between 1918 and 1923 to enforce the partition of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. The partition took five years and led to the emergence of the new nation-states, mandates and kingdoms that would constitute the Modern Middle East. Yet the occupation of Istanbul is an event that has been marginalized in histories, and there is no account in English of the enduring impact of the occupation on the Turkish cultural imagination. In 2005 the EU officially opened membership talks with Turkey. The same year two novels on the occupation of Istanbul were published and immediately became bestsellers. The timing of these publications was not coincidental. European powers had played a formative role in the establishment of the Republic of Turkey after World War I. The possibility of Turkey’s reintegration into Europe raised new anxieties and phobias about the loss of national sovereignty. In light of these geopolitical changes, what did the figurative return to the Allied occupation of Istanbul represent? Close to 100 novels address the recurring trope of occupied Istanbul, making it a subgenre in Turkish literature. Internationally recognized writers from Halide Edib to Nâzım Hikmet and from Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar to Attila İlhan have all written novels set in occupied Istanbul. I argue that occupied Istanbul is not only a traumatic historical period, it is an unexamined trope in Turkish culture that is central to understanding modern Turkey in its moment of global integration.
Turkish novelists have often contested the authoritarian tendencies of the republican state. Orhan Pamuk was charged with insulting Turkishness in 2005, emphasizing a long-standing opposition between author and state as well as between literature and secularism. Though Pamuk's trial gave him the status of dissident, it simultaneously ignored the formal innovations and political transgressions of his novels. This essay traces confrontations between Turkish literary modernity and secular modern state power in Pamuk's work and the Turkish novel. Such an analysis reveals that narratives of the nation-state (devlet), bound to the secularization thesis, have often been contested by Ottoman, Islamic, and Sufi contexts (signifying din). I argue that the unresolved opposition between the secular, material narratives of devlet and the sacred, redemptive narratives of din is productive of the modern Turkish novel and defines its literary modernity. Thus, Pamuk's dissidence also resides in modes of writing that contest the nation form and revise the secularization thesis through new representations of Turkish historiography, Istanbul cosmopolitanism, the Ottoman archive, political parody, and secular Sufism. Such literature that confronts representations of devlet with those of din constitutes the “secular blasphemies” that define the politics of the Turkish novel.
Global Perspectives on Orhan Pamuk is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that explores Pamuk's multifaceted approach to ordinary Turkish life. The contributors of this volume come from an array of international perspectives that place the reading of Pamuk into dynamic arenas of new interpretation and reflection. The themes of existentialism and politics are examined in illuminating essays through connections to nationalism, religion/secularity, traditional/modern, exile/home, and comparative readings of writers as Mohsin Hamid, Naguib Mahfouz, Italo Svevo, and Amitav Ghosh. This is an indispensable collection for understanding Pamuk, global literature, and crucial issues in today's world.
This essay compares and contrasts Turkish author Halide Edib’s novel The Shirt of Flame (Duffield & Company, 1921) to the second volume of her memoirs, The Turkish Ordeal (The Century Company, 1928). Both texts have female protagonists and parallel plots and take place during the Allied occupation of Istanbul (1918-23). Both texts are manifestations of an emerging Turkish national master narrative. By highlighting the tensions between the first-person narratives of the novel, the memoir, and the emplotment of the national master narrative, this essay offers an analysis of tensions between cosmopolitan Islamic feminism and secular nationalism. This essay describes how memoir (whether an actual memoir, such as The Turkish Ordeal, or a fictional memoir, such as The Shirt of Flame) constructs the object of its knowledge (the feminist self), and furthermore, how the feminist self can be read either as constitutive of national allegory (as in The Shirt of Flame) or as an allegorical critique of patriarchal nationalism (as in the English-language The Turkish Ordeal). The essay concludes by showing how Edib’s perspective allows for a gendered reading of the national master narrative and the orientalist/nationalist binary upon which it is predicated.
Turkey's modern history has been shaped by its society and its institutions. In this fourth volume of The Cambridge History of Turkey a team of some of the most distinguished scholars of modern Turkey have come together to explore the interaction between these two aspects of Turkish modernization. The volume begins in the nineteenth century and traces the historical background through the reforms of the late Ottoman Empire, the period of the Young Turks, the War of Independence and the founding of the Ataturk's Republic. Thereafter, the volume focuses on the Republican period to consider a range of themes including political ideology, economic development, the military, migration, Kurdish nationalism, the rise of Islamism, and women's struggle for empowerment. The volume concludes with chapters on art and architecture, literature, and a brief history of Istanbul.
Through 100 texts and 30 images, _Mediterranean Passages_ advocates for a re-reading of the sea as a contact zone and a space of encounter and conversion that tempers the dominance of the nation-state. The volume argues for a transcultural and networked approach to the understanding of religious and secular communities that are often presented monolithically and as being mutually exclusive. The primary sources assembled here cover three millenia, and the conceptual framework employed by editors cooke, Göknar, and Parker is informed by the works of Braudel, Goitein, Abu Lafia, Horden & Purcell, Braudel, and others.
Epic in verse by Nazim Hikmet never before translated into English.
Revised reissue of Pamuk's historical novel. Published as part of the Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics series.
Editorial on Pamuk's Nobel Prize in Literature