Istanbul: Memories and the City

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Istanbul: Memories and the City

It must be noted that intertextuality is one of the most evident and significant postmodernist tools that Pamuk implements in this work. He devotes whole chapters to Melling, Nerval, Gauthier, Tanpinar and Beyatli who have direct intertextual connections with each other. Nerval occupies a central position in this intertextual network in that both Gauthier and Tanpinar remember Nerval while walking through the streets of Istanbul. Similarly, Pamuk emphasizes that he feels the “closest connection” with Tanpinar, who was also inspired by Nerval. Not only does he emphasize the key element of the reader’s intertextuality, but Pamuk also positions himself within a pantheon of European and Turkish writers to highlight his position as resident, traveller, admirer and a literary peer.

There is no doubt that regardless of the classification of this text, numerous key postmodernist and innovative techniques make “Istanbul: Memories and the City” a unique work that combines and dissects multiple various literary and historical elements. The never-ending battle between the modern and the past of the Republic of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, merged with Pamuk’s lost shared family tradition is just one of the interesting parallels presented in the work. It is important to note that the narration, the relationship between the writer and the text, the theme of melancholy and identity, their definition and explanation, the historical background, the element of the Bildungsroman, the climate between Turkish writers and Western writers are the most significant points that Pamuk connects by using the city as the perfect appropriate subject and symbol. Through the narration, which reflects the life of the author from his birth to the process when he decides to become a writer in his youth, the focus is mainly on the development of the artistic and writer’s personality, as well as the factors that play an important role in this developmental process, with an emphasis on the city of Istanbul. His relationship with this city is a love-hate relationship, just as the one with the foreign writers who wrote about it as well. The character of the author as well as the character of the city arise from an apparently disordered mosaic of facts. That is, the author and the city in an interesting way, find themselves stuck at the crossroads of cultures, full of internal contradictions, which go through the memories of childhood, youth and the city enveloped in a strange but pleasant feeling of melancholy. In the emotional ups and downs of his youth, Pamuk expresses his feelings towards his hometown and re-examines his feelings towards it, as he sometimes hates and sometimes loves it, eventually seeing it from a mature and more aware point of view and valuing and evaluating it anew. Thus, the life story of the author, which consists of his memories and the image of the city intersect and merge as in the end they still coexist and represent a unique whole.


Pamuk, Orhan. Interview. Hans Ulrich Obrist. December 2006. Architecture and Design Magazine Domus.
Parla, Jale. Orhan Pamuk’ta Yazıyla Kefaret. İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2018.
Ricoeur, Paul. Memory, History, Forgetting. Paris: Seuil, 2000.
Taner Can, Berkan Ulu, Koray Melikoğlu. Orhan Pamuk: Critical Essays on a Novelist between Worlds. Stuttgart : ibidem Press, 2017.
Памук, Орхан. Истанбул: Сеќавањата и градот. Скопје: Арс Ламина, 2021.

AuthorSanberk Yusuf
2022-07-12T12:41:43+00:00 July 11th, 2022|Categories: Essays, Literature, Blesok no. 144|Comments Off on Istanbul: Memories and the City