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Re-Imagining and Re-Placing New York and Istanbul

Exploring the Heterotopic and Third Spaces in Paul Auster's and Orhan Pamuk’s City Novels

Hatice Bay

The author re-examines the urban novels of Auster and Pamuk in the light of Foucault's heterotopia and Bhabha's the Third Space, respectively. Furthermore, for the discussions of the nature of the relationship between the self and the other, this present study deploys Emmanuel Levinas's ethics. This book argues that examining the urban spaces and characters of Auster and Pamuk through the prisms of Foucault, Bhabha and Levinas establishes a new critical framework that gives a constructive and ethical angle to the negative late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century discourses on the city and its inhabitants. The reader of this book will discover urban subjects who actively transform their respective cities into either heterotopic or Third Spaces and thereby become response-able for and attentive to their immediate surroundings, to their national or personal histories and, most importantly, to other people. At the same time, by bringing these two different cities, cultures and authors that are poles apart together, this book aims to problematize commonly held beliefs about Americanness and Turkishness and thus pave the way for looking at discourses such as «clash of civilizations», «margin» (Istanbul) and «center» (New York), the belated and the advanced from a critical point of view suggesting that there is a common discursive affinity with similar outlooks on life, personal, historical and physical spaces on both sides, rather than a «clash of civilizations». The arguments presented here will be of interest to students and scholars of city literature, comparative literature and history of ideas as well as to readers who have an interest in theory and close reading.

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1 Introduction


This study mainly examines Paul Auster’s New York and Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul novels in the way the urban protagonists experience their respective cities and re-construct their own identities around them. As far as the theoretical framework is concerned, Foucault’s concept of “heterotopia” and the idea of “The Third Space” theorized by Homi Bhabha are used for Auster’s and Pamuk’s novels, respectively. Furthermore, for Auster and Pamuk make the other person and the spaces of the other person central to reimagining subjectivity, Levinas’s ethics will also be employed as an interpretive strategy. While the present study will be breaking new ground in the application of the theories of Foucault to New York City, Bhabha to Istanbul and Levinas to both of them, it is at the same time the first study to bring Auster’s and Pamuk’s works together and establish a dialogue between these two very different textual universes and cultures that are poles apart. Moreover, Auster and Pamuk are chosen for this study in order to challenge the contemporary theories on the crises of the urban spaces and urban dwellers. Bringing Auster’s and Pamuk’s works together illuminates the need for a reevaluation of the contemporary negative outlook on the city and its inhabitants. That is, this study will expand the reader’s awareness and understanding of how spaces and their inhabitants can be viewed from a positive angle. Thus, it is the aim of this comparative approach to present the reader with more nuanced, complex and diversified sets of...

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