Is Orhan Pamuk still alive

The new life

"One day," the novel begins, "I read a book and my whole life changed. On the first few pages I already felt the power of this book, that I believed my body had left the table and chair, where I sat, loosened and taken off. " The man who talks so fiercely about his reading revelation is called Osman, is twenty-two years old and an engineering student in Istanbul. From now on he will devote his life to the search for the path that the book shows him. Osman leaves his city, gives up studies and family ties in order to uncover deadly evidence in nightmarish bus trips through Anatolia, step by step and city by city. And as it cannot be otherwise with a narrator trained in Borges and Calvino, the most intimate interrelationships exist between the book Osman read and the one whose hero he is.

Orhan Pamuk's novel, which was an unprecedented popular success in Turkey, claims to deliver a complex parable of Turkey today, its cultural traditions and constructions, its political tensions and contradictions and, above all, a specifically Turkish variety of paranoia: "Turkish paranoia is a generally accepted cultural reflex, "says Orhan Pamuk. "It is the political language that government and schools use. It paints a crude positivist picture of the world; it is a political fairytale variant of French positivism that appeals to the whole population and is propagated by the state and television. The message reads: everyone is our enemy, everyone has conspired against our fatherland. There are institutions, persons, groups that conspire against us, the holy Turkish nation. You can find this point of view everywhere in everyday life. Turkish paranoia means a chain of conspiracies, that we think we are involved in. "

Osman, the hero of the novel, gets caught in such a conspiracy scenario. With the discovery of the book and the awakened prospect of a "new life" there are strange occurrences. Not only does Osman fall in love the next day with the student in whose hand he first saw the book. Not only that soon afterwards the girl's friend, also one of the readers' circles, is shot by a stranger. It soon turns out that all readers of the book are in mortal danger. Dr. Narin is the name of the man who, with his agents, directs the counterattack against the "Great Conspiracy", which includes the book and the West in general with its goods and ideas. With Pamuk, of course, fundamentalism also has poetic-comic traits. Dr. Narin loves simple things. He believes in the "memory of objects", in the "existence of a mysterious, necessary and poetic time that passes over to us from a simple spoon, a pair of scissors, from the things that we hold, stroke or use." Dr. Keep Narin from disappearing. An honorable undertaking that can of course only be realized if cola drinkers and other extremists are eradicated. So are each other in Dr. Narin and Osman are basically opposed to two fundamentalists: one believes in the message of things, the other in the revelation of his book. For Pamuk, both embody a specifically Turkish way of dealing with texts and symbols: "I come from a culture in which reading books is not very widespread," explains Pamuk. "When people read books, it is in a strange way that I sometimes call the" Third World Way of Reading. "They immerse themselves in a book with the expectation that the whole world is about to change. So you don't read to relax, like you might go to the movies. Reading is a radical thing that is tied to an anonymous messianic vision. This is how in my youth students read Marxist books, and so some fundamentalists read religious pamphlets. You expose yourself to the world of a book and with that everything has to change. So what matters is not the book itself, but a tendency to discover something in every text that will completely transcend our view of life. "

Pamuk's characters pay with a certain lifelessness because they are designed as representatives of their culture. Whether the student Osman or his fellow student and travel companion Canan, whom he desires in vain, or the mysterious Dr. Narin - Pamuk's figures are more allegorical carriers than individuals. His novels are "cosmologies", says Pamuk himself. "The New Life" is about the struggle of the forces of light and darkness, about conspiracies and counter-conspiracies, about the good things and the fury of disappearing, in short: it is less about characters than of positions. Namely of positions between which no mediation takes place. That is why every encounter with him amounts to a head-on collision. The collision, the "clash" or "crash" not only of cultures, but also of coaches is a dominant motif of the novel. Pamuk, of course, is too ironic, too playful to take a literary stand in the war of positions: "My attitude towards literature is not that I am 'on one side'. That would not be essential for me. On the one hand, I am a cynic. On the other hand, my heart also takes sides, for example for the value of traditional simple things. But I also know the consequences of such an attitude, so I look at things with a cruel cynicism. That's why I make the old man who does the little ones Things adored, cynically a little fascist. The pleasure of writing for me is being cruel and cynical. But I make up for that with poetry that comes from the heart. So I have both at the same moment: the beauty and the Cruelty of life. "

In Pamuk, beauty and cruelty are reconciled in a spirit of romantic irony. The irony with which his novel, like some fairy tales by Hauff, Tieck or E.T.A. Hoffmann, "reminds the reader of nothing and everything." The polyphony of the genres that Pamuk deals with in his novel also appears romantic and ironic. As in the "Black Book", his penultimate novel, the author mixes motifs from Islamic mysticism with postmodern narrative strategies and weaves lyrical and ornamental forms of expression into the pattern of a socially critical contemporary novel. Last but not least, Pamuk is inspired by the German genre of the educational novel. A Novalis word as the motto of his novel proves Pamuk's very conscious handling of influences from German Romanticism: "I came from Poe via Coleridge to German Romanticism. My concern is that there is a real life somewhere, that maybe only our life a shadow of that life is that we are exiled, far from what is essential and real. That is what I owe to the romantics. That dreams, opium and poetry are attempts to get closer to what is essential. And that we still know that we are not in the real place. "

It in no way contradicts Pamuk's romantic impulse that he - as an author and activist - seeks political confrontation. Irony is the stylistic device with which he keeps the parties to the Turkish conflict at bay, irony is also the means with which he attacks these parties. Pamuk's surreal photographs of "shabby rooms, speeding buses, tired people, faded letters, forgotten places, failed existences and ghosts" are poetic findings of a crisis-ridden cultural and social situation and are related to the similarly provocative and dazzling dream images of Luis Bunuel. "My jokes get on the nerves of all parties in Turkey," said Pamuk. "I joke about the fundamentalists, their traditionalism and their obsessive religiosity, and then I joke about the so-called Kemalists and their humorless narrow-mindedness. Of course, they feel provoked and angry. Both parties attack me and want to take over me at the same time I am also interested in writing because I want to provoke. The country is divided between the secularists and the fundamentalists and I want to show my readers that together they make up the establishment in this country. "