9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Closet Orientalist and Palace Mysteries
Pamuk has created an elaborate masterpiece. The book is a murder mystery on the surface. Like some of his books though it has many layers interwoven expertly. The setting, old Istanbul and Topkapi Palace grounds, among court artisans, allow him to dissect seemingly one of his favorite topics, philosophy and essence of East. What makes East, Orient? He constantly...
Published on Jun 6 2004 by Alaturka
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finally finished...
It took me over a year to read this book! I started it last spring and finally finished it the other day. When I first started it, I loved it - the idea behind it, the style, the structure and shifts in narrative perspective were all fascinating and wonderful. As the book went on, however, it started to drag, which caused me to set it aside for weeks or months at a time...
Published on Jun 4 2004
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Closet Orientalist and Palace Mysteries,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)Pamuk has created an elaborate masterpiece. The book is a murder mystery on the surface. Like some of his books though it has many layers interwoven expertly. The setting, old Istanbul and Topkapi Palace grounds, among court artisans, allow him to dissect seemingly one of his favorite topics, philosophy and essence of East. What makes East, Orient? He constantly falls back to the rich history of Ottomans to explore and contrast East vs. West. What separates the two cultures way beyond religion? Art, especially visual art, maybe the best and most direct expression of a world view and indicator of where people place themselves with respect to God and all other creations and the story revolves around this theme.
There are no introductions, no prologues, epilogues, first page takes you right in, and you are being murdered. His use of first person narrative is very effective and very unnerving. This book took Pamuk many years to finish apparently, three of which was spent on translation alone, and it shows. The effort he has put in making his work available to World readers has been well worth it, something that other contemporary Turkish writers should emulate I believe. Though some have complained about the flat prose, this cannot be all attributed to the translation. He uses a non-elaborate style to simulate realism, which I believe, works well. Some of the scenes are quite violent and sexual references are sometimes shockingly raw, but this is 16th century and anyone who has read Rumi should not be too surprised. He paints very rich scenes, and as in a Vermeer painting, one is inevitably looking for that hidden clue, a faint reflection on the mirror for the identity of the villain in the story.
Some years ago I had a chance to see the very manuscripts that inspired the artisans in this book and occupy such a prominent place, on display in NY Metropolitan Museum. Given the time period, these were very bold and very impressive expressions pointing to an era in Islamic culture when the dark curtain of conservatism had not yet descended. If Sunni Arabs represent the warriors of Islam, surely Shiite Persians represent the artists. Their wonderful paintings, poetry and miniatures have dominated the Islamic art and literature scene and have set the standard for much more to come.
Pamuk has done extensive research and period accuracy is impressive. Though the writing is smooth and not convoluted, still it is not an easy read, but given the topic, which is a lot more than just a murder mystery, it is a small price to pay for a great book.
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Orhan Pamuk's MY NAME IS RED,
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This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)This book dives deeply into the culture of Turkey, specifically Istanbul. It brings the reader on a journey on many different levels. The book can be read for pleasure but it is also helpful and insightful for those who are planning on learning about Istanbul or are planning on travelling there.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finally finished...,
By A Customer
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)It took me over a year to read this book! I started it last spring and finally finished it the other day. When I first started it, I loved it - the idea behind it, the style, the structure and shifts in narrative perspective were all fascinating and wonderful. As the book went on, however, it started to drag, which caused me to set it aside for weeks or months at a time. Then I would slog through a portion, set it aside again, and continue the cycle.
There are moments and aspects of incredible beauty in this book. The meditations on art and its function in society take on added dimension if you also think of them as meditations on the role of literature and the artist. I didn't even mind that the characters were flat - they were supposed to be, I think, much in the way that Islamic illustrating is described in the book. What I didn't like, however, is that the book starts to get repetitive. It goes off on side tangents, which are interesting at first, but start to wear on the reader after awhile. In one section of the book, one fable is related after another - after another, after another, after another... Pamuk could have easily cut at least 50 pages from this book, without affecting its integrity at all.
Overall, I'm glad I read it - but I don't know that I would do it again. You only have so much time in this life!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighted Or Bored? Depends...,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)MY NAME IS RED will delight some readers (who, like me, may be unable to put it down and look forward to a second reading) and bore others ("What's all this art/philosophy doing in a murder mystery?"). So the real question might be: Who would enjoy RED?
I haven't read THE NAME OF THE ROSE in years... decades... but RED reminds me of ROSE. The reader is invited into another time, another world. Entering the richness of that time and world must delight you as much as the characters or the plot.
The multiple points of view approach must also be a device you enjoy. RED plays with points of view ingeniously. In addition to people having their say, what the artist-characters depict have a say too. Even the color red speaks up. Imaginative. Marvelous. If you like that sort of thing.
I'm now on an Orhan Pamuk tear... SNOW is next...
3.0 out of 5 stars Structure, ideas fascinating; characters and language flat,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)This is a tough review to write. There's much to like about this book. There's much to dislike. Comparisons to Eco's "The Name of the Rose" are accurate; both books are period mysteries, both books explore the ideas of the time, both books aspire to larger stature than their genre. Neither book does, really. Literary fiction is all about character. Ultimately "My Name is Red" gives us intriguing and intricate philosophy and fascinating structure. But its characters are flat and its language tedious.
First, a quick note about the language. Does the translation stink? Or did Pamuk write convoluted, lifeless prose in the original? My guess the former. There are too many awkward sentences. The language is dull. I get the feeling the language is intended to represent a formal, fable-telling style. (More on this later.) But. It's too affected.
What really shines about "My Name is Red" is its fascinating story-within-a-story structure. The whole book is told as if by a coffee-house storyteller. Not only does the book unfold from multiple characters' points-of-view, but objects get voices, too - including a coin, Satan, and the color red.
Also the structure parallels the art form of book illustration that is at the heart of the novel. It's highly formal - all the narrators in the book speak with the same affected voice. It's traditional, in the spirit of "Arabian Nights," which uses parables and stories-within-stories. It owes much of its spirit to Islam, yet flirts with blasphemous rejection of religion. It's bending towards Western influences - in the case of the book, mystery novels. And so does illustration in the novel.
Yet for all the fascinating philosophical digressions and observations on Islam and art, what drives the modern novel is character. And it's there that "My Name is Red" is weakest. Perhaps because the language remains too formal throughout, we never get a chance to get intimate with the book's populace - their thoughts, the pattern of their speaking voices, the psychological impressions so vital to the 20th-century novel are missing here. There's also a weird obsession with sex running through the book - not in an interesting way, like in "Ulysses" - but in a middle-school, bodice-ripping way.
Still, the book is worth a read. It attempts to bring Middle East form and influence into a Western novel. The complexity of Pamuk's structure is awe-inspiring, certainly fascinating. Again, like "The Name of the Rose," it instructs as much as it entertains, even if it falls short of its artistic aspirations.
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and educational,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)In this thriller Orhan Pamuk uses an original approach where the victim or the suspect or even an animal narrates actions and points of view. Through a love story and miniaturists' intrigues in 16th century Istanbul, Pamuk offers an insight into Ottoman miniatures - with detailed descriptions, style and symbolism studies - compared to Persian ones and even to European realistic paintings. The inner idea of the story is the theme of "identity quest" as is common to many of the author's books. This book won him the 2003 IMPAC award. Well worth reading.
3.0 out of 5 stars Overly Artsy,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)An interesting read, very artsy and explores the former world of Turkey. A bit too wordy at times and often too dry for my taste, but an overall decent read. I started off lovign it, and ended barely able to finish it.
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERPIECE,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)Winter 1590: in Istanbul a violent murder has been perpetrated. It is the same victim, a miniaturist, who tells the story of his death, describing as well his deep sorrow for the loss of the pleasures of life and his puzzlement for his curious new state of unrest.
But this is not a police story.
In the following chapters a gold coin, a dog, two dervishes, a tree will tell new stories... new murders will happen ... until the violent end of the killer that "restore" the equilibrium.
If not a police story, what kind of novel is this?
Well, it has been likened to Eco's "Name of The Rose" and the writer has been likened to Borges for his visionary and metaphysical imagination, but I believe there's much more: a kind of melancholy for the passing of time and its irreparable loss, the fascination for books and painting, the clashing of two different worlds (not only the East and the west, but also inside the Islamic faith), and far above, below and inside, the sense of life, flowing of life, of passion, love and delicate all-pervasive compassion and humanity, painted with such a craftsmanship to leave you open-mouthed.
So, if I must liken this book to something, it his the famous painting "The Tempest" of Giorgione who first come to mind. Not the description in itself his important here, but the whole portrait, the "sense of life" that delicately comes out from the many layers of painting.
On a purely literary level, I was amazed at the ability of the writer in mastering story and style: there are parts in which the expert reader can identify a portrait in the style of Dostoevskij... but loo... only for few pages ... only a hint of colour, because the writer is now changing again and using irony, and he seems to softly challenge you.
This is one of those rare books (rare indeed) in which you deeply regret, the more you proceed in reading, that inevitably the novel will reach an end.
I'm a passionate reader. If you have suggestion for further readings, you don't agree with what I write, or just want to say hallo... feel free to write.
5.0 out of 5 stars Red As Sin,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)If for nothing else, this book deserves my highest rating
just for the wonderful and tormenting description
of death, spoken from the first perspective by one
of the victims.
Now back to the book.
Another great book by Orhan Pamuk!
At first, it is hard to grasp the angles, and to catch up
Characters in this book are larger then life in their envy,
Yes, there is a murder mistery, but I am not really sure that it is the point in any way, except to amplify redness of the passions involved. Murder here comes more as a driver that keeps all the characters tunneled.
Let me be honest with you - this is not
For the ones familiar with Orhan Pamuk's works - you will not
4.0 out of 5 stars Artistic concoction of ideas, musings, and pieces of minds,
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Paperback)My Name is Red is both a historical and literary fiction. Set in 16th century Turkey, the tale takes place in the Ottoman Empire and encompasses the mysterious murder of a miniaturist named Elegant Effendi though it is not a murder mystery. The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. The miniaturist has been working on the illumination of this book in an European style. The figurative art of the illumination clashes with the inveterate religious belief in Turkey for art could be an affront to the Islam.
Attempting such a dangerous task, the ruling elites ascertain the complete confidentiality of the project. Panic erupts throughtout the Ottoman Empire as Elegant Effendi disappears. He is murdered and thrown down the well. It is an extremely dense and arduous reading experience as author Orhan Pamuk deftly uses eccentric and non-living narrators, namely a corpse, a tree, a dog and other animals to unveil the truth of the murder, who indeed involves a clandestine manuscript which Effendi worked on.
The book affords a cast of numerous characters and all of whom are etched and carefully portrayed. What makes the book not a mystery is the fact that murderer of the miniaturist narrates part of the story. Purged by his own conscience he fears of being caught. At the intersection of narratives from different characters and non-living objects one finds a very convoluted plot of the truth. Maybe such is the beauty of a tale of which the author does not spell out the answer to all of the questions in mind but leave the truth of my imagination.
My Name is Red is an artistic concoction of ideas, pieces of mind, apercu, and emotion. While the cast of characters and narrators unveil their perspectives of the murder, woven throughout the novel are relevant subplots that hint at and distantly contribute to the resolving of the murder. Dialogues, monologues and musings on the philosophy of God, death, purge, love, and punishment fill the prose that is comparable to Kant and Joyce. My Name is Red is an obscure reading experience, filled with more philosophical meditation than the actual events and happenings that precede the murder. It is meant to be savored and its pages not meant to be turned quickly.
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My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk (Paperback - Aug 27 2002)
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