BOOK 159: THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE: ORHAN PAMUK
The Museum of Innocence (Turkish: Masumiyet Müzesi) is a novel by Orhan Pamuk, Nobel-laureate Turkish novelist published on August 29, 2008. The book, set in Istanbul between 1975 and 1984, is an account of the love story between the wealthy businessman Kemal and a poorer distant relative of his, Füsun.
THEMES: Pamuk's work often deals with clash of culture between East and West, which was cited as part of the reason for him being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. This novel continuously references the influence of the West (Europe and America) on Istanbul's culture, through both the idea of museums and the film industry, which becomes a large part of the novel.
Female Identity & Turkish Culture: One of the key themes throughout the novel is the role of the female in Turkish culture. The novel describes the ostracism of women who have lost their virginity before marriage, despite the fact that many claim to have a "more western" attitude toward this in 1970s Istanbul. Pamuk describes this as the taboo of virginity that is part of an old system in Turkey.
In an interview Pamuk blended all of these themes as he commented on how the role of the museum is also one of ownership, as Kemal looks to own Füsun as a trinket in his own museum, rather than allow her autonomy of her own life.
MUSEUM: Pamuk has established an actual "Museum of Innocence", based on the museum described in the book. It is housed in a building in the Çukurcuma neighbourhood of Istanbul, and displays a collection evocative of everyday life and culture of Istanbul during the period in which the novel is set. Originally, the museum was scheduled to be exhibited at Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle in October 2008, during the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, but the exhibition was cancelled. In 2010, Pamuk still hoped that the museum would be opened in 2011. After much delay, the museum was finally inaugurated in April 2012. Although created later, the museum and the novel were conceived of in tandem, displaying the obsessive romance between two Istanbul families, as well as eternalizing a perspective on upper-class Istanbul in the 1970s. The project was supported by Istanbul 2010 – European Capital of Culture. According to the book, the museum allows free entry to those who bring a copy of the book. A ticket placed in the 83rd chapter of the book will be stamped before ushering the reader in.
(Information found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Museum_of_Innocence#Museum)