Orhan Pamuk’s Museum(s) of Innocence and Realms of Memory

Auteur / Author: 
Ece AYKOL (Virginia Commonwealth University, États-Unis)
Jeudi 25 Août 2011 - 17:00
14-2. Literary Monuments
In 1999, the Turkish Nobel laureate for literature, Orhan Pamuk, purchased a decrepit building in Çukurcuma, a historic neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2009, this building was registered as the center of Pamuk’s foundation, The Museum of Innocence, “for the exploration of the new, unchartered, and innocent areas in the arts and thought and to bring to the fore the innocence and childish naïveté of artistic creativity.” 
The roots of this foundation dedicated to “the childish naïveté” of creative endeavors lies in the author’s novel, The Museum of Innocence (2008). An obsessive tale of unrequited love set in modern Turkey, the novel captures the “impossible union” between an affluent Turk, Kemal and a young working class girl, Füsun. Kemal remembers Füsun, the true object of his desire, through his extensive collection of random articles. The apartment where they have their short-lived affair quickly transforms into a private museum where the former stores his Füsun-related objects. After the project for the real Museum of Innocence was announced, Pamuk declared that the entrance to the museum would be possible with the ticket embedded in his novel. 
Pamuk’s soon to be real and already existing “Museum(s) of Innocence” can be read through the lens of Pierre Nora’s conception of modern memory, which is “reliant upon an external prop or a tangible reminder,” and hence the emergence of lieux de mémoire in lieu of milieux de mémoire. In extending a “ticket” out to his assumed readers from his imaginary milieux de mémoire, Pamuk bridges the gap between his fiction and the actual museum, that is, his lieux de mémoire — a space where (Turkish) art and culture will be celebrated. Thus, I propose to view Pamuk’s “Museum(s) of Innocence” as potentially balancing the dynamics between private memories and history in the twenty-first century.