Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A second fragment on The Museum of Innocence

[First one HERE].

I was thoroughly charmed by the concluding portions of The Museum of Innocence: Pamuk’s introduction of himself as the character who has been recounting Kamal’s story all along – in the first-person, no less -- was handled with the lightness and understated humor worthy of a tongue-in-cheek take on Proust’s insight that the “I” who writes is different from, and perhaps irreducible to, the biographical I, the I who inhabits society. But I was also thoroughly moved, by the novel’s concluding demonstration of that other Proustian truth: that we appear wholly other to others than we do to ourselves, a gulf that proceeds not so much from imperfect information as from our inability to avoid refracting ourselves even when we see others. Or, in terms of Pamuk’s novel, Kamal’s life, which by book’s end is seen by the world around him as tragic or even pathetic, but at any rate a complete failure, is, from Kamal’s perspective, a life well-lived. I found myself wondering whether Kamal’s lover Fusun would have said the same, but that didn’t detract from the truth of Kamal’s claim: and in the face of the latter, Istanbul’s objective judgment to the contrary seemed both presumptuous and trivial.

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