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🦋 Persian epic

They chose for the girl the name of Beauty
The chosen son was named Love unhappy

As time went on, some called Beauty Leyla
Some called her Shirin, and others Azra

Then some gave the name of Majnun to Love
Some called him Vamik, and others Ferhad

--Love and Beauty (305-7)

Is the intended reading that all of these epics are retellings of the same story?

posted this evening: Respond
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🦋 Whose voice?

Mehmet, Pamuk, Jelal, Galip, me?

posted Monday morning: Respond
➳ More posts about The Black Book

Tuesday the 13th

🦋 Jelal's columns written by Galip

In part II of The Black Book, Galip writes three columns in the style of Jelal and delivers them to Milliyet. Which of the columns that are reprinted in the book are by Galip? Certainly chapter 31, "The Story Goes Through the Looking Glass," is; and I thought chapter 29, "I Turned Out to be the Hero" might be as well.

It was fun to read "The Story Goes Through the Looking Glass" this evening right after I had read Victoria Rowe Holbrook's introduction to Love and Beauty, and understand more of the references. I expect I will need to read the book yet another time...

posted evening of the 13th: Respond

Sunday the 4th

🦋 Nawfal

It seems clear that the story of Layla and Majnun is understood as an allegory for the believer's unquenchable thirst for God. But I'm having trouble getting this line of meaning out of the story itself... I'm about midway through, and Majnun's friend Nawfal has led his army against Layla's tribe, seeking to capture her and lay waste--

Like lion’s claws the spears tore breasts and limbs, the arrows drank the sap of life with wide open beaks like birds of prey; and proud heroes, heads severed from trunks, lay down for the sleep of eternity.
Majnun renounces the quest a few pages later but Nawfal is about to go on the attack again, mustering up reserves... and I'm thinking, how the hell does this fit into the allegory? The gore is nice and vivid in an epic-poetry sort of way.

"Love is Fire and I am Wood" makes no mention of Nawfal, it seems strange to me to ignore such a central character.

Update turns out my confusion was based on a confusion between Nizami's epic romance and the underlying story. (See comments.)

posted morning of the 4th: 2 responses

Saturday the third

🦋 A couple of Sufi links

While I am reading The Black Book I'm developing something of an interest in Rumi and by extension in Sufi. Here are a couple of links I've tracked down that seem like worthwhile further reading.

More as I find it.

Also -- I updated the Pamuk Bibliography with link to an essay by Saniye Çancı Çalışaneller, "Doppelgänger in Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book".

posted afternoon of the third: 2 responses

when it clicks: Orhan Pamuk is the author who taught me to identify with his narrator! (A lesson which has turned out to be really valuable in general as a way of reading.) This is exactly the story that he's telling about Galip's experience in The Black Book.

posted morning of the third: Respond
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Monday, January 29th

🦋 #tagyourself #itsme

...[A]ny Turk who passionately loves a masterpiece from the West which remains unread by his compatriots begins after a while to believe in all sincerity that not only does he love reading the book, but that he has written it himself.

--The Black Book

posted evening of January 29th: Respond

Sunday, January 28th

🦋 Galip / Jelal

I decided to make a second try at reading Pamuk's The Black Book. I'm reading Güneli Gün's translation this time. (Thanks for the recommendation go to Badger of the lamented Orbis Quintus and also to Michael McGaha.)

It's been a long enough time that I have forgotten the text and the story in all but the very broadest strokes, from time to time I am recognizing a passage. I ought to review my notes from last time. I remember finding it difficult to wade through, and am not having that experience now, which can probably be taken (broadly) as evidence in support of Gün's translation being a better one...

I've started trying to read the chapters which are written by Jelal* as if I were in Galip's head, in the course of the story -- I think that is the intent, when for example the narrator says,

Working in the taxi's top light, Galip marked Jelal's column all over with numbers, signs, and letters, but he still didn't get anywhere.
The idea is that the reader should carry this image and others like it into reading the next chapter, which will be a column of Jelal's (viz. "The Kiss"). Is this asking much of the reader? I don't think I noticed this pattern last time I read the book.

Don't quite understand Galip's thinking that Jelal's columns (which he knows are reprints of old columns) would contain a clue abut Rüya's present whereabouts. (If I'm understanding right that that's why he's poring over the column and marking it up.)

In the middle of reading the previous Jelal column ("The Eye", which I think is one of the columns Galip had borrowed out of his cousin's collection of clips), I had the thought that the older relative (forget now which) who in a previous chapter criticized Jelal's columns as too long had a real point, that that could have been edited pretty brutally without losing much of value.

* Prefer this spelling, which Gün is using, to Celâl; Freely's rendering while accurate made me double-take "selal/jelal" every time I ran across it.

posted morning of January 28th: 1 response

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

🦋 The Disconnected

Most exciting bit of literary news I've heard in a long time came across my desk the other day -- Oğuz Atay's Tutunamayanlar will be published in English translation this month! This novel was a huge influence on Pamuk at the beginning of his career, and has repeatedly been cited as one of the books most in need of a translation into English.

The translation is by Atay's friend (and the book's dedicatee) Sevin Seydi; an excerpt previously won the Dryden Translation Competition. Here is Olric Press's flyer:

Oğuz Atay: The Disconnected [Tutunamayanlar]

translated by Sevin Seydi

715- pages, hardback only, 1/200 copies, published 17 March 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-9955543-0-6

Olric Press is pleased to announce for its first publication a major work in the canon of world literature. The Disconnected was the first book of Oğuz Atay (1934-1977), and was before its time. First published in 1972, it was a cult book among younger writers (Orhan Pamuk, for example, has recorded that he read it twice in the year it came out), but Atay never saw a second printing before his premature death. Since it was reprinted in 1984 it has gone through more than 70 editions, and is widely reckoned to be the most important book in modern Turkish literature.

“My life was a game, but I wanted it to be taken seriously,” says Selim, the anti-hero of the novel. But the game has a terrible end with his suicide, and his friend Turgut’s quest to understand this is the story of the book. He meets friends whom Selim had kept separate from each other, he finds documents in a kaleidoscopic variety of styles, sometimes hugely funny, sometimes very moving, as Selim rails against the ugliness of his world whether in satire or in a howl of anguish, taking refuge in words and loneliness. Under layers of fantasy is the central concept of the Disconnected, Tutunamayanlar, literally ‘those who cannot hold on’, poor souls among whom he counts himself, whose sole virtue is that they do not fit into society as it is constituted. He will be their messiah, at whose second coming they will change places with the comfortable of the world. Confronted with this Turgut sees the faultline in his conventional middle class life, and that he too is one of the Disconnected: he takes a train into Anatolia and ‘vanishes’. What could have been a bleak vision of alienation is transformed by the power of language and the imagination.

In 2002 UNESCO put The Disconnected at the head of their list of Turkish books of which translation was essential, warning that it would be very difficult. A German translation in 2016 was well received (e.g., Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 26 June, found it astonishing that this masterpiece should wait 45 years to appear in German), and needed three printings in six months. But English was the language Atay knew and loved, and his confrontation with literature in English, notably Hamlet and the King James version of the gospels, is a feature of the book. An English translation is therefore called for, and by good chance one has long existed. Sevin Seydi (to whom the original was dedicated) made a rough translation page by page as Atay was actually writing the book, almost as a game with the author, and discussed it with him. After 40 years living, studying, working, marrying in England she has thoroughly revised it, and it should be the definitive version.

This limited edition, with paper and binding of archival quality, is available at £50 or $75 post paid.
Available only from the publisher. Please contact
Olric Press, 13 Shirlock Road, London NW3 2HR, UK
(44) 207 485 9801

posted morning of March 25th, 2017: 1 response
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Friday, July 26th, 2013

🦋 Pamuk y Death in the Andes

Aprecio la observación de Pamuk en "Mario Vargas Llosa y la litaratura del tercer mundo" (ensayo de su collección Otros Colores) de como Vargas Llosa hace uso de una yuxtaposición Faulkneriana de escenarios varios y saltas en tiempo. Me intriga mucho la manera en que esas escenas se van desenrollando.

Lo que Vargas Llosa en Santuario alaba — la yuxtaposición de escenarios y las saltas en tiempo — queda aún más en evidencia en las novelas de Vargas Llosa mismo. Hace con maestría uso de esa estrategia — cortando despiadosamente entre las voces, los cuentos, los diálogos — en Death in the Andes.

posted evening of July 26th, 2013: Respond
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