Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories and the City is an iridescent evocation of Istanbul’s fate, history, and cultural diversity recollected in the form of memories, allowing the readers to connect with Pamuk’s life experiences. The above is made possible through the use of both, past as well as present, which co-exist as a centerpiece in this memoir.
To begin with, memories add a flavour of perceived thought about what the past holds dear to us and are therefore synonymous to history, helping to retell the author’s story, who wishes to convert each and every reader into an artist and commentator of the history of Istanbul. History is something written by ordinary people based on the biases of available data and at times, it is this ideology which casts a magic, stimulating us to revisit the past through our memories. Pamuk showcases history using an individualistic approach, interpreting Istanbul by means of his own thoughts which are original, and correct the existing incongruences put forward by other writers during that period of time. In all, the narrator takes the readers as a ‘tourist guide’ through the by lanes and shadowy corridors of Istanbul, motivating them to conceive their thoughts about the place.
Memories can be defined as all of the precious moments which were lived by the author. He portrays a new instance every time, inviting the readers’ to indulge themselves in a ceaseless wave of emotions and experiences which have skillfully been exposed till the very end of this text. For example, Orhan’s memory about religious beliefs wherein he imagines God as a female stereotype wearing a white scarf, describing Her as a rare sight around human beings. Looking at the following lines, “Even so, whenever I am in a crowd, on a ship, and come face to face with an old woman in a white scarf, a shiver still passes through me,” illustrate how Orhan continuously slipped into an imaginary world of his own and it is indeed this transformation from reality to fiction which makes him ponder upon his memories. Thus, it is glaringly visible how imagination and memory are interlinked because, imagination being a creative thinking process, cannot possibly be constructed on its own. There has to be some sort of provocation in order to insight the particular feeling. Pamuk skillfully uses his imagination as a driving force to help evoke his paradise while residing in the city of Istanbul. He seeks to position himself by building an alter ego which takes him into his ‘second world’, allowing the readers to probe into the phenomenological world of the younger Orhan.
By introducing the idea of Another Orhan in the beginning of the novel itself, the author attempts to facilitate an understanding for the readers’ that Orhan’s life would probably be dedicated in search for his other self whose presence was felt since an early age.
“From a very young age, I suspected that there was more to my world than I could see: somewhere in the streets of Istanbul,...