Thursday, 10 November 2016

the white castle [orhan pamuk]

Pamuk’s short novel is intricate and frustrating. Much of the time reading it feels like fiddling with a clock mechanism. It succeeds in suggesting that it’s a complex and ingenious text, although quite what this ingenuity is is hard to fathom.  A Venetian merchant is captured on the high seas by the Turkish fleet and his scientific knowledge is appropriated by the Pasha. There’s much Borgesian play with notion of doubles, as the narrator’s jailor/ colleague looks exactly like him and he ends up supplanting his life. However, there were times when I confess to getting lost in the mechanism and struggling to understand the significance of the narrative’s psychological playfulness. Unlike Pamuk’s brilliant, Snow, The White Castle seemed to lack any real sense of urgency, either in its telling or its premise. This is a meandering novel, whose twists and turns sometimes feel somewhat arbitrary, as though the writer is chasing the tail of his own story.

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