Istanbul as Palimpsest: The Black Book as a Postmodernist Representation of Turkish History and Culture
Keywords:Turkey, Culture, Identity, Mannequins, Westernization, Film Ekphrasis.
Orhan Pamuk’s novel, The Black Book is a postmodern chronicle of Turkey in which the author uses the structure of a detective novel to delineate the themes of identity, culture and hybridity. The paper aims to depict how Pamuk foregrounds that identities are never determinate but are forever eluding by presenting a love triangle which disappears underneath a mystical quest for one’s true self. Galip’s assuming the persona of his alter-ego, Celal; Prince Osman’s pursuit of true knowledge through reading diverse books and ultimately rejecting them; and Bedii Usta’s disillusion with the State for disapproving the mannequins, all represent the interlacing of cultures and interdependence of identities in contemporary Turkey. Moreover, in the novel, the rich Ottoman tradition and Islamic literature are also revisited in a postmodern light so as to present the allegorical and political connotations inherent in them. The paper also examines how the novel portrays the forced westernization and erasure of history and memories through the use of film ekphrasis to highlight how the Turkish citizens were lured by the Western cinema and indoctrinated about the superiority of the West so as to generate in them a sense of anxiety about their identities.
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