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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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4 Identity and Memory Wars, and Glimpses of Hybridity in the Third Space of My Name is Red


If you ask me, My Name Is Red at its deepest level is about the fear of being forgotten, the fear of art being lost.

(Pamuk, 2007, p. 269)

The last chapter of Part II analyzes Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red. It is a murder story, which is set in Istanbul in the late sixteenth century. When a miniaturist called Elegant is found at the bottom of a well, his skull crushed, the major suspects are the other three artists nicknamed Butterfly, Olive and Stork, who are working with him on the decoration of a secret book for the Sultan. It is rumored that the art of the book is blasphemous. The miniaturists, especially Elegant, warn that the book incorporates un-Islamic methods: it is three dimensional and has an individualistic vision. Apparently, the world of the miniaturists is split between those who cleave to the age-old methods of miniature painting derived from Persian masters, and those who are attracted to the new Western techniques of painting.

Notably, although this novel, similar to The White Castle, is set in another century, the political and ethical implications are concerned with contemporary Turkey, which still tries to come to terms with its internal as well as Western others. From the very beginning of the book, the reader gets immensely acquainted with all these representations of uncertainty, ambiguity and contending people, which can be attributed to Istanbul’s liminal position and, thus, its inhabitants’ being threshold...

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