Taking his title and inspiration from Schiller's On Naive and Sentimental Poetry
, Nobel Prize–winning Turkish novelist Pamuk dissects what happens when we read a novel. Making a distinction between naïve novelists, "unaware" of the novel's artificiality, and "sentimental" novelists (and readers) at the opposite end, who are "reflective," Pamuk is most interested in the "secret center" of literary novels, which is the wisdom they impart. Pamuk brings to the table firsthand knowledge regarding the centrality of character in the novel and how the novelist actually becomes the hero in the very act of writing. Readers, in their own symbiotic act of imagination, also inhabit the hero's character. And through that sense of identification with the hero's decisions and choices, Pamuk says, we learn that we can influence events...[The book] is a passionate amalgam of wonder and analysis. (Publishers Weekly
Pamuk offers a striking interpretation of what goes on in the novelist's mind...In Pamuk's theory, the writing and reading of novels is one of humanity's great acts of optimism. This is what is meant by novelists and readers identifying with characters. To an extent that few other novelists can match, Pamuk is both a naive and sentimental novelist--and he desires readers who are the same way.
--Anis Shivani (Austin American-Statesman
Anyone who has read Pamuk's exquisite fiction will be interested in these essays on reading and the art of the novel.
--William Kist (Cleveland Plain Dealer
The power of Pamuk's short book lies less in his theorizing about the novel than in his professions of faith in it...Pamuk still believes that creating worlds is the novelist's real task and exploring them the best reason for reading fiction...To read in this way--almost desperately, in search of the wisdom and aid we need to navigate our own lives--often seems like a dying discipline. Pamuk's book is a reminder that, without this almost metaphysical faith, great fiction can't be truly appreciated or written.
--Adam Kirsch (Bookforum
A slender, strikingly handsome volume...Pamuk's nonfiction voice matches the narrating voice of his novels--grave, thoughtful, wry...His painstaking love for literature prevails.
--Joan Frank (San Francisco Chronicle
Pamuk's lectures are perhaps best read as a string of brilliant aperçus rather than a systematic text on the art of writing (or reading) the novel. Though respectful of past masters, Pamuk takes exception with many of their conclusions, particularly Aspects of the Novel
in which E.M. Forster posits the centrality of character. Instead, argues Pamuk, it is the world in which the protagonist moves that propels the novel: this interaction draws in the reader, who finds the novel emotively true even while knowing it is fiction. Pamuk draws on his own experience as a non-Western reader of Western novels and as a writer. Pamuk does not disappoint.
--David Keymer (Library Journal
Supple and brilliant...One of the more formidable attempts by a practitioner to articulate a theory of the novel since E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel
...This is an eccentric, sometimes almost solipsistic book about the novel, but it has such a dynamic sense of the life of fiction, and the way the novel makes us see the world, that it will be treasured by readers and writers.
--Peter Craven (Australian Literary Review
Engaging, brilliant...Pamuk's The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist
is charming, self-regarding, [and] dreamy.
--Janet Todd (The Guardian
Pamuk goes to the heart of what a novel is, how he and others write them, and how readers read them. Anyone interested in the humanities should read this book.
--W. L. Hanaway (Choice
[This] recent collection of essays are the work of a writer at the height of his career.
--Thomas Patrick Wisniewski (World Literature Today